Ex-Noma chef Simon Martin will open his first restaurant Mana in Manchester’s Ancoats district next month, serving diners 16 courses in an hour and 45 minutes.
Martin is moving into an empty site and creating a restaurant from scratch something he says is necessary because what he and his team are doing “isn’t normal”.
The chef explains: “Mana wouldn’t work within a standard restaurant layout. That’s partly because of the bespoke kitchen and research-and-development facilities we’re putting in, but also the fact we’re doing a 16-course menu. Lots of places do something similar, but not at the speed we’re doing: 16 courses in one hour 45 minutes.”
The restaurant will open four days a week to serve dinner to 30 covers. Martin is keen to crate an accessible restaurant that allows the team to share their work “in an attractive, pleasant environment”.
He said: “We’re not making gels and foams and things that aren’t even recognisable. We’re making food. Real food! I hate the term fine dining, it’s extremely vague and is always surrounded by an aura of pretentiousness. I also dislike the term tasting menu, but unfortunately we’ve not come up with a suitable replacement for it yet.
“What we’re producing at Mana is natural food, and it’s sustenance. It’s not ‘how clever is that?’. It’s not, ‘I’m going to eat foie gras because it’s foie gras, even though I don’t like the taste of it’.
“We want to be accessible to everybody. Mana is about making people feel at home, giving good service, and sharing our work in an attractive, pleasant environment. It’s that simple.”
The restaurant’s completely bespoke kitchen is costing £300,000, a decision Martin says he has taken for both his guests and his staff.
He explained: “We want it to look good not just for the guests – because Mana is open-plan – but also for the chefs. We don’t want them working in the usual stainless-steel cage, some windowless metal basement that’s all dented and broken and scratched. It can feel like you’re working in a prison.
“It’s now well-known that drug and alcohol addictions are widespread within the catering industry, and that’s down to the environments and conditions people are working in, along with the long, long hours. We’re trying to get away from that by creating a comfortable environment.”