Manahatta review; Manahatta invested a cool £500k to transform the former Arc site into a modern New York inspired hangout joint.
One look at the place tells you that the money has been well spent.
We paid them a visit for dinner several weeks after the launch, by which time, the bar already felt very much like a well-established part of Headingley’s nightlife scene.
Having spent many a hazy night in Manahatta’s two central Leeds bars, I was pleased to see that the new bar had been designed with its younger target audience in mind. Sure, the place still looks opulent, with trendy light fixtures and plush peacock blue seating, but this version of Manahatta has more of a youthful, urban edge than its predecessors.
The walls are adorned with graffiti and neon signage, and there’s even a large gaming area complete with giant shuffleboards for the gamers out there. Upstairs houses the upscale loft bar, as well as additional seating for diners.
I have to say we had no idea what to expect from the food, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that their menu of indulgent comfort food was full of winners. First up, we enjoyed a selection of smaller bites from the Nibble and Share section. Highlights here included the Bang Bang Chicken Skewers with sesame and soy honey dressing, which were incredibly moreish.
The Salt and Pepper Squid were another hit, cooked to soft, tender perfection and served with a flavoursome garlic aioli. Sadly, the Crispy Duck Spring Rolls had sold out, however the Tempura Asparagus with spicy mayo that our table opted for instead turned out to be a great shout.
For mains, I opted to swerve my usual mega burger in favour of my other love, fried chicken. I wasn’t banking on this to be the best fried chicken I’d ever had, but that’s exactly what I got. The spicy coating was spot-on, the chicken tender and juicy and the house slaw and skin-on fries a delight, eat your heart out Colonel Sanders.
Elsewhere around the table, the Red Devil Pizza was also getting some love. Made using San Marzano tomatoes sourced close to Naples, Fior di latte mozzarella and Neapolitan style double fermented dough, the authenticity of the pizzas here really shone through. The Red Devil itself is also blessed with Nduja sausage and a blast of fire with the red Calabrian picante chillies.
The heat from the pizza married well with the Tooma River Shiraz we were enjoying, which is a veritable flavour bomb of dark fruit and chocolate.
Despite feeling like I’d eaten half the menu by this point, I found room to help my fellow struggling companion with the Katsu Chicken Curry. Served alongside fluffy white rice and kimchi, the crispy chicken and thick katsu curry sauce proved to be another successful dish.
The dessert section of the menu is tiny, however, each of the three options sounds as though they were designed by a fat kid let loose at Willy Wonka’s, which is a good thing if you ask me. As tempting as the trio of Brownies sounded (which included pistachio and salted caramel), I went with the calorific Red Velvet Doughnut.
Consisting of a toasted sugar doughnut, cream cheese frosting, chocolate ice-cream, squirty cream, popping candy and dried raspberries, it’s not for the faint of heart and a heavenly choice for the Insta-whores of the world (myself included, obviously).
We signed off the meal with a round of Vanilla and Hazelnut Espresso Martinis, which were just as good as they sound on paper, before heading downstairs for a round of shuffleboard (where I whooped some ass I might add).
Manahatta really has got Headingley all sewn up. And, let’s be honest, the Arc was beginning to look and feel incredibly tired, and this savvy rebrand has breathed new life into the venue. Catering for the weekend bottomless brunch crowd, gamers, couples on date night and anyone looking for a more upmarket experience in the student capital of Leeds, what more could you want. And, with fried chicken as good as that, you can bet your last buck I’ll be back.
Manahtta Headingley, 19 Ash Road, Headingley, Leeds, LS6 3JJ. Tel 0113 2752223.