Evuna has been on my to visit list for as long as I can remember, but with any good and authentic tapas bar, it only has a few tables in meaning the times I did want to go, they were always fully booked – which says a lot about the restaurant from the get-go. We visited the Northern Quarter branch, on the edge of Thomas and Tib Street, which has been open for over 5-years. The building was originally a bank, but nowadays, the interiors are all a mixture of dark wooden floors, colourful tiles and a gorgeous bar area.
We’re not short of Tapas and Spanish restaurants in the city centre, but Evuna has to be up there with not only one of the best Spanish meals I’ve ever had but the experience in general: Right from the start we were introduced to the waiters and restaurant manager and made to feel at home as soon as we sat down.
Like any other foodie, I had a little look at the menu beforehand to see what was on offer, but after been talked through it, our minds were swayed a little bit and we tried some dishes that I ordinarily wouldn’t.
Before the food came, Natalia, the lovely restaurant manager, brought us some Gordal olives (the biggest I have EVER seen) and sat with us to tell us more about the history of Evuna. She told us the chain started 15 years ago when Francis Dowler, a local-ish, Liverpool-based entrepreneur, met her Spanish counterpart, Manuel Evuna, and fell in love with everything about the country.
They started with one shop on Deansgate selling wine they were importing from Spain, but soon after the regulars wanted a real taste of what they were about and a small menu was born. Fast forward a few months and the relationship between Francis and Manuel, unfortunately, didn’t last, but Evuna, as we know it today, was born.
Francis quickly asked her daughter Jane, who was working in London at the time, if she wanted to help run the restaurant, to which she agreed, and the rest, they say, is history. These days they have three sites, with a fourth coming in February in my hometown of Altrincham, which I cannot wait for.
With wine being the backbone of the business, it is still very prevalent in not only the menu but the displays spanning the entire restaurant. Natalia told us that all of the wines are sourced from the motherland (Spain, not Liverpool) and are seemingly cheaper than other restaurants in the city as they have cut out the middleman. The house wine is also purely made for Evuna, meaning you can get an authentic Spanish taste, which is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Not only that, but they hold monthly wine tastings, paired with the food, which are always a huge success, where the guests can meet the wine merchants. One thing that Evuna do also is sell the wine they serve, meaning you can take away a bottle for even less to enjoy at home.
As I mentioned, we had a look at the menu the night before to see what treats they had available, but after speaking to the waiters, they twisted our arms to try something new – and it completely paid off. We started off with olives, which were so big and juicy, and set us up for what was to come.
The dishes we went for were Serrano ham, beef tomato, avocado and olive tapenade salad, chicken skewers, Galacian tuna pastries, patatas bravas, homemade flatbread with roasted vegetables, spinach and salsa brava and finally roasted aubergine with pine nuts and honey. When the food came I was worried that we’d over-ordered but we finished every last bite and it was incredible.
Some of the dishes that I usually wouldn’t have gone for were the roasted aubergine and the homemade flatbread, but I think those two were my joint-favourites. The honey and pine nuts gave the aubergine such a sweet taste, and we’ve even made the aubergine since at home, and the flatbread was loaded up so high with veg that I’m pretty sure I got 3 of my 5-a-day (wishful thinking eh?).
If we hadn’t had enough by this point, we definitely had after the dessert. As you all may know, the dessert stomach is separate from the regular stomach, and there was no way I was going anyway without something sugary.
Natalia talked us through the menu, suggesting the Crema Catalana, and who am I to argue with an expert? Also, when something is described as Creme Brulee but better, how could I resist?
The dessert came in a little bowl and was similar to a Creme Brulee with that you broke the sugary top layer, but the custard underneath was thicker and infused with orange and cinnamon, which almost made it feel quite festive. I’m usually a chocolate person when it comes to dessert, but I am really glad I tried this one as it was so divine and the perfect end to the meal.
If you are looking for a taste of Spain in Manchester, I could not recommend Evuna more. They have Spanish chefs in all of their restaurants who enjoy sticking to the classic dishes on the menu, not changing them from site to site, but also use their fresh ingredients to create so amazing specials every month.
I can’t wait for the Altrincham branch to open as I am already having withdrawal symptoms and can’t wait to book in for another date night.
Have you been to Evuna? What did you think?
Our meal was complimentary in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.