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The top 20 small plates in the North West

5 years ago

We Brits don’t traditionally look too kindly on sharing our dinner. We tend to favour a procession of ‘private’ plates and issue a death stare to anyone who tries to nick one of our chips. But over the past few years, we’ve seen a change in dining decorum. Once only tolerated on an ‘exotic’ visit to a tapas restaurant, ordering a selection of small plates to share between two or more has become de rigueur in all sorts of UK restaurants from Japanese to Scandi.

Our top 100 includes plenty of them, so we’ve put them together into a handy guide. From dishes such as smoked beets, goats cheese and nettle sauce at gorgeous upmarket gastropub The Moorcock, to a procession of Indian street food perfect for soaking up a few craft beers at Bundobust as well as some next level tapas from the likes of El Gato Negro and Lunya. Shake off your stiff upper lip, grab some friends and family and get stuck in.

  • Bottomless brunch at Elnecot in Ancoats, Manchester.


    Restaurant - European

    Named after the first recorded name for Ancoats, Elnecot (meaning ‘lonely cottages’) takes its influence from historical cooking methods with lots of fermenting, a little foraging and a few nose-to-tail dishes.

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  • Inside Skosh restaurant in York which serves adventurous world-fusion food with spectacular results.
    Book Now North Yorkshire


    Restaurant - European

    Going by name and appearances, you’d be forgiven for mistaking Skosh for a Scandi furniture shop: tables the colour of driftwood bob in a greyscale dining room with an Ikea-yellow wall as the backdrop. In fact, its open kitchen is staffed with chefs preparing British dishes with an adventurous and international flavour. Skosh offers as close to perfect as world-fusion cooking gets in the UK. 

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  • El Gato Negro, the much-praised Spanish restaurant on King Street, Manchester
    Manchester City Centre

    El Gato Negro Manchester


    El Gato Negro is an upmarket Manc-Spanish fusion restaurant that really, really works. Originally from Yorkshire, chef Simon Shaw has created an indulgent, three-storey church to his passion for the best in Spanish food and wine.

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  • A table set for dinner at Instagrammer's paradise Tattu restaurant in Manchester, Spinningfields

    Tattu Manchester


    Located in the heart of the Spinningfields business district, Tattu Manchester is an Instagrammer’s dream. Think penumbral lighting, body art-inspired cocktails and a full-size cherry blossom tree with hand-sewn silk petals. You’d be forgiven for expecting such opulent surroundings to outshine the food. Not so.

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  • Grilled prawns with chilli, lime & coconut sauce at The Burbs restaurant in Heaton Moor
    Book Now Heaton Moor

    The ‘Burbs


    The ‘Burbs is exactly the sort of informal neighbourhood spot you want round the corner from your house.

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  • A negroni and passion star martini at Cicchetti
    Book Now Deansgate


    Restaurant - Italian

    As the first San Carlo Cicchetti, the Manchester restaurant had a lot to prove on opening in 2011. Over a decade and several awards later, it’s still going strong.

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  • Bundobust Manchester is best known for its vegetarian small plates and craft beers
    Manchester City Centre

    Bundobust Manchester

    Restaurant - Indian subcontinent

    Bundobust is a huge beer hall serving craft ales in the heart of Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens. It also happened to win Restaurant of the Year at the 2017 Manchester Food and Drink Festival awards, thanks to its stellar menu of Indian small plates.

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  • Eel as served at Jöro - the Nordic-inspired, acclaimed restaurant in Sheffield.
    Book Now South Yorkshire


    Restaurant - Scandi

    Offering Nordic-inspired fine dining inside a shipping container, Jöro has secured accolades galore, including a clutch of AA Rosettes and Michelin Bib Gourmand.

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  • The sun shining on Maray restaurant on Bold Street, Liverpool city centre.
    Book Now Ropewalks

    Maray Bold St

    Restaurant - European

    Serving irresistible Middle Eastern fusion small plates, Maray is a slow-burning smash hit. Inspired by (and named after) the Middle-Eastern flavours of Paris’ Marais district, it provides an informal, communal dining experience which revolves around excellent falafels, small plates, fine wines and cocktails.

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  • The homely interior of The Roebuck Inn in Mobberley, Cheshire

    The Roebuck Inn


    Multi-award-winning pub in the Cheshire countryside. Winner of countless ‘best pub’ awards, and established in 1708, the latest incarnation of The Roebuck Inn is owned by Cheshire Cat Pubs. The Grade II Listed building is now a bonafide ‘rustic country inn’ with six bedrooms, a bar, a bistro and a tiered beer garden.

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  • Inside Bacaro, the Liverpool bar that serves Venetian-inspired small plates
    Liverpool City Centre


    Restaurant - European

    Like the backstreet Venetian tapas places which inspired this central Liverpool bar and restaurant, there is something about Salt House Bacaro that makes you never want to leave.

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  • A tableful of dishes at Belzan in Liverpool
    Mossley Hill


    Restaurant - European

    Following punchy reviews in the local and national press, it has been hard to secure a table at Liverpool’s Belzan.

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  • Outside dining at Porta Altrincham - a tapas restaurant recommended by Confidential Guides

    Porta Altrincham

    Restaurant - European

    Spanish small plates and a menu that really delivers. Porta Altrincham might be another tapas place – but this one is a smash hit serving excellent food and fine wines.

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  • Manchester City Centre

    The Refuge


    Winning small plate fusion in an iconic and glamorous setting. Housed in Manchester’s iconic The Refuge Assurance Company dating back to 1858, this DJ-run restaurant and bar is large and sassy.

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  • Tapas at Lunya, a Catalan restaurant and deli in Liverpool.
    Liverpool City Centre



    World-class Catalan deli and restaurant Lunya is a wonderful place to hang out, with tapas and full-bodied meals on offer. Just don’t expect predictable options in a venue known for signature dishes like Catalan Scouse (morcilla and chorizo stew), or croquetas with oxtail and horseradish mousse.

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  • A colourful small plate served at Volta in Didsbury: a Confidential Guides' recommended restaurant



    Volta is owned by Luke ‘Unabomber’ Cowdrey and Justin Crawford – the DJ-restauranteur duo behind Chorlton’s Electrik bar, the Electrik Chair club night, and Refuge by Volta in Manchester city centre’s Kimpton Clocktower Hotel. 

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  • Asparagus as served at The Swine That Dines - an inventive restaurant in Leeds city centre
    Book Now Leeds

    The Swine That Dines

    Restaurant - Modern British

    Adventurous cooking at one of Leeds’ most respected restaurants. The Swine That Dines is driven by a passion for extremely high welfare meat – and eating all of the animal. Expect their regularly changing menus of small plates to feature dishes such as hogget with offal ragu, pumpkin and cannellini, and ox tongue with pickled mushrooms and mustard, alongside equally inventive vegetarian options.

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