As someone who’d happily dig into a good surf and turf or even some dirty fried chicken over a 10-course tasting menu, I don’t consider myself a food snob. That said, when I heard Maray Manchester was part of a small chain, I was slightly suspicious. Further research suggested I had nothing to worry about, however, and it turned out to be an impressive restaurant with some inspired dishes and an exceptional wine list.
Arriving on a busy Saturday night, we were quickly seated and soon chatting away to one of the coolest waitresses we’d met in a long time. The industrial-style interiors are blended with warm lighting, giving the place a cool and cosy vibe.
Having enjoyed a little too much food throughout the day, including a cheese and charcuterie appetiser just hours before, we skip the Mezze section and head straight to the mains. Split into veg, meat & fish, and a separate vegan menu, there’s plenty of options for everyone here.
Dishes come out on a first come first served basis, and I was delighted to see my Crispy Fried Chicken land first. Served with a deliciously tangy pickled radish and aioli, this was a cracking take on my desert island dish. The chicken was tender and juicy, the coating was crisp and I could have eaten the pickled radish by the jar.
The Spiced King Prawns with white bean messabecha also had us salivating. The prawns were perfectly plump and flavoursome and well balanced with the delicate white bean. Another highlight was the Sea Bass with slow-cooked fennel and tomato, and I can’t recommend the rather basic sounding Chips enough.
Doused with some seriously tasty hummus and zhug, these chunky chips are comfort food at its finest. The only real let down for me personally was the Disco Cauliflower, but then I’ve never been one to get excited by this rather bland vegetable.
For starters, it’s a pretty ugly-looking dish, and despite being smothered in tasty harissa, tahini, yoghurt, pomegranate and almonds, you can’t escape the fact that cauliflower has virtually no taste. My dinner guest did enjoy this one though, so each to their own.
Wine lovers are in for a treat at Maray, because this is a place that stocks some of the most unusual and moreish wines I’ve tasted in some time. First up was a glass of the light and minerally Nautilus ‘Aged Under Water’ Domaine Foivos from Kefalonia which goes down a little too easily.
I’m always up for trying new Malbec and This is Not Another Lovely Malbec from Matias Riccitelli was so silky and smooth that I had ordered some online when I got home. Hats off to whoever is in charge of sourcing wines at Maray.
Despite being fit to burst, we gave into our waitress’s charm and went with the awesome Filo Pastry Cheesecake, which was drizzled with a rich caramel sauce. A unique take on a classic dessert unlike anything else I’ve tried before.
If you’re looking for somewhere relatively inexpensive that offers up some exotic flavour combinations and brilliant wines, then you really should check out Maray. The service is tip-top and the large majority of dishes will impress even those with the most adventurous palates.
Maray, 14 Brazennose Street, Manchester, M2 6LW.
Reviewed by Fletch.