If you love El Gato Negro then Canto is definitely a place to try. A younger sibling of the Deansgate-located tapas institution, this modern, relaxed space in the heart of Ancoats’ food-focused Cutting Room Square combines fast paced dishes with a typically casual, relaxed Mediterranean atmosphere, inviting diners to take a break from the bustling streets outside and spend a little time in the airy, chic interior, while being served an incredible range of innovative, contemporary small plates. That said, the generously proportioned and well appointed terrace area does offer the chance to gorge outside instead, if the weather allows it.
If El Gato’s focus is on giving a traditional taste of Spain to the good people of Manchester, then Canto rebalances the act by taking inspiration from the most westerly end of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal. As anyone who has spent time in Lisbon or Porto will know, the country takes its food scene very seriously, and this tribute act certainly does the same. A reassuringly simple menu puts its trust in the standards of kitchen staff and ingredients, both of which measure up. Pesticos such as the cheeseboard of Manchego and Monte Enebro, among others, is a real case in point, as do the Solo Baker sourdough or Catalan Bread.
Meat, veg and seafood are separated on the mains, although all come as small plates. We’re big fans of the Monkfish Skewers, and the Sweet and Spicy Chicken has quickly established a cult following. Elsewhere, Octopus Lagareiro, Salt Cod Fritters, and Polenta, Spinach, Poached Egg and Manchego Sauce are all excellent, too. As for dessert, the Basque Cheesecake and Seasonal Sauce is a must-try from where we’re sitting. Drinks wise, in addition to the usual beers and cocktails this must be a contender for best Portuguese wine list in town, so you definitely won’t go thirsty, either.