One of the best restaurants in Greater Manchester doesn’t even exist
12.03.2023 - 09:51
Hattersley-born chef Iain Thomas is a pretty big deal. You might well have tried his food - either at Ancoats’ gastro-pub, Edinburgh Castle, or back in the day at Establishment on King Street - the building that is now home to Italian restaurant Rosso.
It was here that he met chef David Aspin - who had trained alongside Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay - and the pair ended up working together at a string of acclaimed Scottish restaurants, including Paul Kitching’s 21212 in Edinburgh.
His name might also ring a bell if you’ve dined at The Alan, a boutique hotel on the edge of Manchester’s Chinatown. Last year, Iain’s food won over acclaimed food critic Jay Rayner, who described the chef’s cooking as “truly delightful”, and his menu of “diverting dishes” as ” “admirably tight”.
Read more: We took Jay Rayner for lunch at one his favourite Manchester restaurants - here’s what he had to say about the city’s food
But, following the glowing review, and despite being at the peak of his career, the chef, who has been working in kitchens since he was 16, decided to step back. What the hotel wanted didn’t quite align with Iain’s vision for a restaurant.
Fast forward to today, and the chef has teamed up with the hotel’s former head of sales and marketing, David O’Connor, to create ‘Our Place', a culinary concept for ‘the least, the last and the lost’. The menus are refined and carefully considered, the dishes burst with flavour and provenance, and the restaurant, well, that doesn’t quite exist yet.
“The challenge that we’re finding is to be a good chef or salesperson, you need experience and qualifications, which we both have, but to own a business you need money, which we don’t have at the moment,” laughs David, as we sit