IN a restaurant climate where closures and cutbacks are making the headlines expansion is a brave move. So good luck to Tattu, which is currently fitting out 5,000 sq ft of space for its third venue, in Birmingham, with a fourth on stream for Edinburgh next summer. Quite some momentum for this self-styled ‘Modern Chinese dining’ group, which debuted in Spinningfields in 2015 before opening in Leeds last year.
We’ve a soft spot for the original, whose determinedly seasonal menus have been curated since the beginning by acclaimed London chef guru Andrew Lassetter. The lavish, tattoo-inspired, artificial tree-centred interior is wearing well, too. So a sampling of its latest winner menu was enticing. We weren’t alone on a midweek evening; both downstairs bar and first floor dining room were buzzing.
Attention to detail is everything. Our server remembered us from last time, even reminding me we’d ordered the same Chablis, before pointing the new dishes to try. Surprisingly, despite the vibe, some of the food had lost some focus. Or maybe it’s just over-familiarity with the formula?
Both a small plate of sticky red prawns on crispy rice with chilli bean, honey and ginger (£9) and white miso salmon (£25), suffered from a lack of essential flavour in both prawns and salmon. Garnishes for the latter of pickled ginger, red onion and caramelised lime couldn’t lift the dish. Tattu has always been big on presentation – in reality this dish looked unkempt next to their publicity shot (main image).
Tofu pockets (£10) were a winner, though, filled with sticky rice and wild mushroom and a stinging slap of wasabi; likewise thin discs of lightly seated tuna with the sharpness of ponzu, earthiness of truffle aioli, dotted with caviar (£9.50).
But pick of the ‘mains’ was wild mushroom and truffle baby chicken with lotus root, teriyaki and crispy skin (£16.50), which felt the kind of contemporary riff on Chinese Tattu has made its own in the city.
I admit I expected something more spectacular from pastry chef Sobia Ali’s semifreddo-style white chocolate ‘igloo’ served with blood orange, vanilla biscuit and coconut snow.Too much happening on the plate, it was trounced in the dessert stakes by her vibrant take on warm apple crumble, using Asian pear. green apples and almonds with some exotic pink custard. Both puds are £8 a shot.
Tattu, 72 Gartside Street, Manchester M3 3EB. 0161 819 2060. The Taste of Tattu lunch menu, available 12-3pm daily and until 5pm on Fridays. has also been revamped; two courses £23, three for £28. Festive sharing menus start from £40 a head. Check them out here.