Some new destinations generate high expectations. Hence the enthusiasm with which I greeted Exhibition. Not just because it is heartening to see a historic Manchester edifice (home to a functional Pizza Express in its least interesting incarnation) given a stylish makeover; the presence of three quality indie food operators alongside a slick bar operation promised to set it apart from more canteen-like places chasing that food hall pot of gold.
Before this 400-capacity venue opens to the public on Saturday, November 12, I’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak preview of what’s on offer from OSMA, Caroline Martins and Baratxuri. While not neglecting a drinks offering headed up by Manchester Union Lager alongside smart wine and cocktail options. This was by special, lavish invitation only, so no way of gauging what the overall ‘live’ experience will be like. If that lives up to the parade of dishes served to us then Exhibition is a significant new player. a further bonus… it is dog-friendly throughout.
I’ve been a fan of Basque-inspired Baratxuri since its inception and over the years I’ve guzzled my share of Rubia Gallega Txuleton, bone-in rib steak from Galician dairy cattle aged over 50 days. At Exhibition £75 will get you 1kg’s worth served blue with fire-roasted new potatoes and tomato salad.
Another speciality of chef/founder Joe Botham also features. Rodaballo a la Parilla (£55) is a whole wild turbot grilled over ember and served with whippd pil-pil. Follow my turbot capital trail in Northern Spain here.
Simpler, less expensive dishes on the menu will satisfy equally well – the likes of immaculately sourced anchovies, the stickiest of ribs and scallops in the shell.
There’s a more compact menu from the offshoot of Scandi-influenced Michelin-rated OSMA in Prestwich, creation of Sofie Stoermann-Naess and Danielle Heron and. The name is an amalgam of duo’s respective home towns of Oslo and Manchester. My Manchester Confidential colleague Lucy Tomlinson gave it 16/20 in her review.
Priced similarly to its turbot rival across the dining rom, their whole cooked lobster is another huge temptation. They have a way with seafood. Check out their exquisite sashimi.
I’ve been a regular at Caroline Martins’ Sao Paulo Project pop-up at Ancoats’ Blossom Street Social. Her foray to Exhibition takes her away from tasting menus to a more stripped down approach, while still fusing Brazilian culinary traditions with cannily sourced local ingredients. Still, she couldn’t resist bringing with her a smaller version of her ‘splash hit’ choc pudding party piece I’ve written about before. My tip: don’t miss her Carlingford oyster with passion fruit sorbet.
Exhibition, St George’s House, 56 Peter Street, Manchester M2 3NQ.