Canvas on Oxford Road is fast becoming one of the hottest events venues in town with an endlessly impressive gig calendar and everything from award-winning comedy to groundbreaking club nights in between. We can’t stay away, to be honest.
But since it opened in summer 2022, the restaurant upstairs might not have made it onto your radar. That’s about to change following an overhaul of the space which is now called Canvas Social. Furnishings have been softened so the dining room and bar have a more laid back, casual feel. Comfy leather chairs, good tunes and walls full of art from West Art Collective make it the kind of place you want to chill for a few hours.
The new kitchen team that has taken over at Canvas Social has hangover-food pedigree. Kyle Wilson and Ellie Grimshaw are the pair behind Parmogeddon at the nearby shipping container village, Hatch. They recently launched their new venture Block Steak Shop and have moved into Canvas’s zhushed up new space serving French-style steak frites alongside its North American cousin, the Philly cheesesteak sandwich, and somewhere in between the two cuisines, the LA-born French dip sandwich.
While it’s not the special occasion fanfare steak that you might find at somewhere like Hawksmoor, the steaks here certainly hit the spot. Meat is locally reared, grass fed, free range and dry aged sourced from top Manchester butchers Littlewoods. A perfectly cooked bavette (£12.50) or flat iron steak (£10.50) are served with your choice of sauce (we went for a creamy peppercorn) and a big rustling pile of skinny rosemary and sea salt fries. It’s a cracking midweek dinner for just over a tenner.
If you’re hungover or wanting to line your stomach before going to a gig downstairs, you might want to go for the extra carbs that a Philly cheesesteak sarnie provides. Seared steak is stuffed into a sub roll with fried peppers, onions and melted mozzarella cheese. It’s also served alongside those house fries seasoned with rosemary salt and is even cheaper at £10 exactly. The French dip is the same price and served with a pot of beef jus (gravy to you and me) for dunking.
If you aren’t into steak, there’s also a fried buttermilk chicken ciabatta with buffalo sauce and melted mozzarella. Or you can get stuck into some loaded beef dripping fries topped with either hoisin duck or chorizo. Veggies can get in on the action too, replacing the steak with meaty Portobello mushrooms. And if that’s not enough, sides include buttery, spiced corn ribs and deep-fried dauphinoise potatoes, yes, that’s right, deep-fried dauphinoise potatoes.
The drinks menu has had an overhaul too and if you’re watching the pennies, you’ll like the price of the cocktails. For £4.50 you can get any cocktail, including a Pornstar Martini. The wine list is easy on the wallet too. We enjoyed a Entreflores Crianza D.O.C Rioja with our bavette steak and chips which at £4.50 is the most expensive glass of wine on the menu. The house red and white at £12 a bottle is an absolute steal bringing a steak dinner for two with a bottle of wine to well under £40.
Canvas Social is open Tues-Sunday with food served from midday-9pm. The bar is open until midnight.
6/3/23: This article heading has been updated to reflect that the price of flat iron steak and chips is £10.50 but you can get a Philly cheesesteak or French dip for £10.