Market Restaurant 104 High Street, Manchester (0161 834 3743). Wed-Sat dinner. Homely and run along loosely family lines, this small restaurant in the north is a contrast to the brasher, hipper places to eat proliferating in central Manchester. Recommended by City Life, the local listings magazine, the well-thought out, wide-ranging and appetising (especially for vegetarians) menu might include peperonata and goat's cheese tart or ful medames (Egyptian broad beans), Bulgarian spinach gratin or duck with spiced kumquats, walnut baklava or rhubarb fool with hazelnut shortbread. Around pounds 20 a head without drink.
Mash & Air 40 Chorlton Street, Manchester (0161 661 1111). Mash: Mon- Sat lunch and dinner, Air: Tue-Sat dinner. Home brewing (the brewer's called Paul Home) was never like this microbrewery and eaterie bang in the middle of Queer as Folk territory. Mash, the pub and brasserie part, covers the lower floors of this converted old Victorian mill building, with the brewing equipment visible in all its hi-tech glory, and a wood-burning oven accounting for groovy pizzas. Also on offer are modish salads, grilled meat and fish with good twists. Around pounds 15 for food. Upstairs on the top floor, the superior Air has impressive contemporary cooking at higher prices: pounds 25 to pounds 30 without wine.
Simply Heathcotes Jacksons Row, Deansgate, Manchester (0161 835 3536). Daily lunch and dinner. Spacious, stylish, bold and a bit brassy, Paul Heathcote's city-centre brasserie celebrates gutsy regionalism with class and flair. The seasonally changing a la carte menu has the likes of white- onion herb soup with cheese fritters, fillet of beef, horseradish ravioli and ale sauce, lemon sole with chilli and lime pickle or Goosnargh duckling with sweet-pea puree and foie gras butter. Sounds gimmicky, but solid technique pulls it off. A la carte prices can seem high, with main courses up to pounds 30, but the set menu is pounds 10.50 for two courses, pounds 12.50 for three.
Barca Arches 8-9, Catalan Square, Castlefield, Manchester (0161 839 7099). Mon-Fri lunch and dinner, Sat dinner, Sun lunch. Coming up for three years old, Mick Hucknell's hip hangout pays little homage to Catalonia with a menu that extends further - sometimes tortuously - around the Mediterranean. The ground floor, down under the arches by the canal, is given over to drinking. In the first-floor restaurant, find main courses such as venison with raspberry sauce garnished with pickled chanterelle mushrooms, fried cauliflower in pepper olive oil on grilled sirloin steak with English white Stilton, at around pounds 12; pay pounds 16 for three courses without drink Caroline StaceyReuse content