Sometimes I play this game in my head, where if I could erase one entire boxset from my brain, just so I could rewatch it all again with the same glorious feelings of anticipation and excitement, what would I pick?
Each and every time, it would be “Lost”. If I was trying to be a cool girl, it would be “The Wire”, which incidentally is an impeccable watch, but no – Lost Season one and two is where my heart lies (let’s not talk about the seasons which followed, that was a tragedy for us all that is best left unspoken of).
I like to play this very same game with restaurants, I adore the delicious suspense of making a reservation, of reading and re-reading a menu at any spare moment like a teenager reading a love letter (WhatsApp?) From their crush. The eagerness for the day to arrive that you’ll hop off the tram and beeline for King Street, one of my favourite streets in Manchester and breeze into the new restaurant of one of your all time favourite chefs. That place, if you hadn’t already guessed, is Kala; newborn of Gary Usher and Elite Bistros and sister of Hispi amongst many others.
Experiencing Kala was like rediscovering my love for Hispi and Wreckfish all over again. Whilst there are elements to Kala which set it apart from its siblings, there’s a running theme of simple, back-to-basics, honest hospitality and a kitchen pumping out waves of hunger-inducing aromas which oozes from every restaurant.
We began our evening with gin, sourdough bread and whipped brown butter. Stealing glances at the menu in-between dives, pretending to consider what we had already decided two weeks prior when we made our reservation.
To start, aged beef tartare, oyster and beef fat croutons.
As delectable as it is photogenic.
Roasted octopus, sunflower seed puree, salsa macha and lime.
For me, when octopus is done well, not chewy or rubbery – it can be better than lobster – this octopus was simply exemplary and my favourite of the two.
Normally, I never opt for the same dish as someone else as it limits the opportunity to smorgasbord the menu, however for mains, neither of us would compromise and both plumped for the braised featherblade.
Truly, the most sensational plate of food.
Melt in the mouth meat, caramelised carrot nuzzling up against fluffy but crisp truffle parmesan chips, and the sauce which flavours my dreams – pickled walnut.
A diversity of flavours, intensely rich, gotta-be-cooked-in-a-vat-of-butter-because-how-else-does-it-taste-so-good levels of wonderful. EVERYONE should have this dish at least once in their life.
For pudding, we took on the dark chocolate tarte and the banoffee choux bun. The tart is delicious, decadent, but if you’re struggling for room the banoffee choux should take your priority, always.
Served with roasted banana ice cream and whipped cream. Don’t even think about sharing.
Some people just have a knack of delivering the goods to people who appreciate exquisite yet comforting as f*** food – and Gary Usher is one of them.
Food here might not be cheap but for the level of quality, innovation and care that’s served with every plateful, you’re getting an absolute bargain.
Oh! And did you know they do brekkie?
Pan fried chicken livers, aioli, toasted sourdough, parsley salad.
Smoked haddock, Vadouvan spiced risotto, poached egg.
Just in case you didn’t quite get your fill the night before.
In the evenings, I’d make a reservation but for mid-mornings, just pop in and tuck in.
Enjoy your new favourite place.