Guide

The best restaurants for natural and biodynamic wine in the North

These millennials, eh? They’re always trying to meddle with things that have been the same way for hundreds of years. But, no matter how much some people pull their faces and dig their heels in, the vines they are a-changing. To be fair, natural and biodynamic winemaking actually pre-dates the whole modern wine industry, as it was once the only way to make wine. However, low intervention wines are enjoying a renaissance on modern restaurant menus and it’s getting easier to find outstanding examples if you know where to look. Environmental considerations are crucial to our times and more and more restaurants (and customers) are bringing the focus back to all things, well, natural. So it might be time to stop wine-ing and open an eco-friendly bottle or two with your dinner, you might be pleasantly surprised.

While there are strict rules around the labelling of organic and biodynamic wines, the guidelines for natural wines are as murky as an unfiltered orange. For some, this just adds to the fun as things get really experimental – and, some might say, risky. But there’s no need to worry when the expert sommeliers at some of the best restaurants in the land have done all the graft for you. We’ve put together a list of five of our Top 100 restaurants and another five honourable mentions in Manchester (that opened since we announced our last guide) that are sure to pour you an au naturel glass you’ll love.

  • 26 Book Now Lancashire

    The Cartford Inn

    British

    This historic coaching house serves adventurous British pub food in poetic configurations. Cooking is by mushroom forager and head chef, Chris Bury, whose CV includes the Fat Duck and Claridges, while award-winning suppliers include local wine merchants, D Byrne and Gornall’s dairy, near Preston. The interior, some of which dates back to the 1800s, is packed with wood panels and idiosyncratic artworks while the wider complex takes in glass-clad extensions, an al fresco terrace, and cool, eco-style cabins, integrated into the landscape. A place to get away from it all for a day, or a night – and enjoy some of the best food in the region at the same time.

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  • 13 Book Now Cumbria

    The Forest Side

    Modern British

    This Michelin-starred restaurant and hotel, owned by Lakes hotelier Andrew Wildsmith, is built on the foundations of the cooking of former L’Enclume forager, Kevin Tickle. New head chef, Paul Leonard took over the stove in late 2019. The menu is, undoubtedly, “inspired by the Cumbrian landscape”, but there’s plenty more going on here, with aspects of Scandi and Californian chic creeping into the tasting and lunch menus. While adventurous meat eaters are very well catered for, vegetarians are certainly not left out. In fact, ‘garden shenanigans’ are a theme as lovage, anise hyssop, woodruff, lemon verbena all typically feature along with wild garlic capers, elderflower and coastal greens.

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  • 20 Book Now Yorkshire

    Jöro

    Scandi

    Nordic-inspired fine dining inside a shipping container. Jöro opened the doors of its permanent shipping-container location in early 2017. However, it’s already secured a accolades and fawning reviews galore, including a clutch of AA Rosettes and Michelin Bib Gourmand. Headed by chef Luke French, the concise, Nordic-inspired menu continues the up-cycling ethos of the building structure by delivering often unassuming ingredients with vision and ingenuity.

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  • 4 Book Now Yorkshire

    The Moorcock

    Modern British

    An astonishing arrival on the Northern culinary scene. This unassuming pub serves foraged and regional ingredients in thrilling configurations, catching the eye of national food critics and diners alike. The menu could include crispy fish skin and tarts of foraged berries, wood-roasted goat, leeks with new season garlic and pickled plums, homemade black pudding, roasted beeswax ice cream and cascades of herbs and leaves that go way beyond plate dressing.

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  • 9 Book Now Manchester

    Where the Light Gets In

    Modern British

    The UK’s most exciting ‘no menu’ restaurant. With no menu, esoteric wines and Michelin star price tag, WTLGI doesn’t adhere to the typical fine dining formula. But it’s been a success for Stockport, thanks to chef-patron Sam Buckley’s belief in doing things his own way. His aim is to create ‘a dining experience from the day’s catch, harvest and slaughter’ and to treat staff ethically and as part of the restaurant’s collective consciousness.

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  • Book Now Manchester

    The Creameries

    British

    This laid-back neighbourhood bakery, bar and kitchen is presided over by celebrated local chef Mary Ellen McTague, who spent time in the kitchens of Heston Blumenthal (amongst others) before running her own fine dining establishment, Aumbry, in Prestwich. The Creameries is a much more casual affair than Aumbry, but McTague’s nose for the best ingredients and attention to detail shine through in even the simplest dishes – from pheasant pie to wild garlic soup. The real focus though is on bread, cheese, wine and beer. Sourdough is baked in-house and predictably wonderful with whipped butter on the side.

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  • Book Now Manchester

    Erst

    British

    “Yet more small plates in Ancoats?”, we hear you cry. Well yes, but trust us, Erst is worth your attention. This is a place for serious foodies so don’t come looking for mac n cheese balls. Plenty of other places can satisfy that filthy craving for you. The menu at Erst changes frequently depending on what’s good and in season and the plates are inventive and often surprising – challenging even: lamb heart with beetroot, labneh and mint anyone?

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  • Book Now Manchester

    Isca

    British

    From Caroline Dubois – sommelier at Where The Light Gets In since its inception – and Isobel Jenkins of the critically acclaimed Seasons Eatings supper clubs comes this natural wine bar on an unassuming street in Levenshulme. The wine, of course, is the star and it’s all curated by Dubois from her vast experience with natural, low intervention and biodynamic producers. 

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  • Book Now Manchester

    The Quick Brown Fox

    French

    What really stands out about this lo-fi wine bar on the border between the Northern Quarter and Ancoats is the range of exclusive premium drinks available. There are six natural or low intervention wines and Prosecco on tap, as well as a bottled wine list seasonally selected in collaboration with acclaimed London wine bar and magazine, Noble Rot. 

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  • Book Now Manchester

    Wolf At The Door

    Scandi

    Modern, Scandi-inspired and locally foraged small plates from a team made up of Manchester’s slacker dining alumni in an achingly cool Northern Quarter setting. With ingredients like dill pollen, toasted buckwheat and juniper wood, Wolf at the Door is a bit like Mana’s cooler, less intense sibling. There’s an upstairs cocktail bar with a menu that doubles as a photo-art project and a central space that has been designed to remove barriers between those making the drinks and those enjoying them. The wine menu is all-natural, of course.

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