Manchester’s highest dining room got a new executive chef in February. Chester-born Daniel Scott’s culinary career is well into its third decade, and he counts Michelin star earners Michael Caines, Tom Kerridge and Mana’s Simon Martin as former employers. (Read more about that HERE.)
Chef Daniel is keen to work closely with the UK’s best producers, farmers and fishermen to source the finest quality ingredients for his menu. As you’d expect, such quality comes at a premium. Starters on the 20 Stories a la carte menu vary wildly from a bowl of soup for £9.50 to king prawns, garlic and chilli butter and aioli at £22.
However, for those without generous expense accounts, there’s a great value lunch menu (available weekdays) where you can enjoy two courses for £18.50 or three courses £23.50. From this we really enjoyed a well-made pressed ham hock terrine served with date ketchup and toasted sourdough bread followed by roasted chicken supreme, with truffled potato purée, kale, and a thyme chicken sauce. 20 Stories also offer a pre/post theatre menu of three courses and a glass of wine for £25.00 (available Monday-Thursday 5.30pm – 6.30pm.)
In comparison, a starter alone on the a la carte menu such as seared scallops, with squid ink risotto, pickled kohlrabi, tomato concasse and nasturtium leaves will set you back £19.50. Mains range from £23.50 for the vegan celeriac & truffle Wellington, to £36 for venison loin with parsnip purée.
From the grill there’s a range of 35-day dry aged beef cuts cooked over charcoal (around the £40 mark), or you can really push the boat out with dishes to share from whole native lobster, garlic butter, truffle & parmesan fries, to a 26oz Chateaubriand or a full rack of lamb (all £85.) If, like me, your eyes hover over the right-hand side of a menu as much as the left, the prices are slightly eye-watering. But cost versus value is for the individual to decide.
We tried one of the main dishes from Chef Daniel’s new menu - spiced monkfish loin, with puy lentils, shredded spring greens, preserved lemon, and red wine sauce (£32.50). It was pleasant, but salty enough to warrant a whole extra glass of wine to wash it down with (that’s absolutely true and not just an excuse for afternoon boozing.) There’s also a comprehensive list of sides (all £5.50) in case you feel you’ve not quite spent enough on your meal…
20 Stories has a delightful dessert menu but the pear and ginger mousse with gingernut pear compote, blackberry sorbet and pear foam (£8) that we wanted to share wasn’t available for some reason. Their signature pistachio soufflé and vanilla ice cream (£14) looks like the one to beat. No rest for the pastry section though looking at the number of afternoon teas being served. By 3pm most of the tables were stacked high with wooden frames filled with sandwiches, scones, cakes and mini desserts.
20 Stories in Spinningfields is one of Manchester’s destination restaurants and sits amongst 45 high end eating places owned by D&D London. It’s the kind of buzzy and vibrant place people like to dress up and be seen while dining and drinking.
The restaurant offers panoramic views across Manchester – the best can be seen from the unisex loos where you’ll get a great perspective of the shiny towers at Deansgate Square and the Beetham tower touching the clouds. The view around the other side is arguably less attractive. With all the cranes and scaffolding it can seem a bit like eating over a building site. I’d prefer to turn our chairs around to face into the restaurant for some people-watching instead.
20 Stories also has a popular roof terrace and bar which they decorate seasonally and use to host various events and collaborations. It is currently dressed as a ‘Manchester Meadow’ for spring with a cocktail menu featuring drinks using Manchester Gin.
As well as cocktails, they have a comprehensive list of wine and fizz from all over the world and even offer many of the fancier vintages by the glass (thanks to a Coravin wine preservation system which allows them to uncork a wine and keep it without it being spoiled). Prices begin with the excellently easy drinking house white (2020 Torrontés Blend, Bombo Leguero, from Mendoza, Argentina) at £26.50.
It's fair to say that although 20 Stories can be pricy, it offers some wiggle room for varying budgets. It is a great people watching place and a pleasant way to spend an afternoon or evening feeling a bit indulgent. Look, we’ve all spent most of the past two years at home – if you’re looking for a treat to self, this is the place you’ll find it.
20 Stories, No 1 Spinningfields, 1 Hardman Square, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3EB