When I heard Lunya was opening in Manchester I was mega excited, as far as Spanish food goes, it’s definitely one of my favorites. The original restaurant has been open in Liverpool for the last five years and as a student in the city, I visited frequently with family when they came to visit, and thanks to the deli next door, it was my go-to present shop when panic buying for dad’s birthdays and last minute Christmas gifts.
Located in the stunning Barton Arcade Lunya is spread over two floors, with the deli and bar on the ground floor, and restaurant and kitchen on the first floor. Decorated in traditional Catalan colors, red & yellow, Lunya have a huge dining space with a café-restaurant feel upstairs, and a more chilled bar experience downstairs, so ideal for any party size, and so far, not impossible to book on a Saturday night.
The bar has the UK’s largest array of Spanish gins, beers, wines and spirits, and is a great place to head for a meal first if you’re planning on drinking close to Deansgate.
The team at Lunya go to Spain frequently to visit farmers, fishermen, cheese makers and the rest of their suppliers so they understand where the food they are offering comes from. While they use as many traditional Spanish suppliers as possible, they use much more local suppliers in the North West for their fresh produce like meat and vegetables. The food is all cooked from scratch on site, and the downstairs deli is stocked with a huge range of Catalan and Spanish food and drink, including 3 different hams carved on the bone, over 40 Spanish cheeses and all of the essentials (and obscure ingredients) you would ever need to create your own taste of Spain.
The traditional Catalan menu is huge, and broken down into a variety of dishes both from the kitchen in the restaurant, and from the deli downstairs. There is also a separate menu for vegans, which is a huge bonus, and really unusual for a tapas restaurant due to the amount of meats and cheeses on the menu.
As a guide, Lunya advise four dishes per person, which are served as each dish is ready. Both times I’ve visited the restaurant we’ve ordered a selection between a small group, and while I’ve loved all of the food, I’ve been unable to manage more than three due to the richness of the food. Thanks to the way the dishes are served, it’s definitely advisable to order conservatively and order additional dishes as you go along.
Sat in the first floor restaurant , opposite one of Manchester’s oldest tapas restaurants, La Tasca on Deansgate, we ate our meal almost as two courses. While working our way through the menu, and toying with which courses we wanted to order, the waitress offered us a selection of olives, and some of Lunya’s Catalan Tomato bread, and we gladly agreed.
The drinks menu is extensive, with a special gin bar which has one of the largest gin selections outside of Spain. As well as the nineteen gin drinks, served with a variety of garnishes, there are also a number of specials available to order.
The homemade sourdough was brought almost instantly, three chunks of homemade sourdough bread which had been lightly toasted and rubbed with garlic & tomato olive oil, topped with juicy fresh tomatoes, with a sprinkling of salt and black pepper. We went back for a second portion immediately. Served with a mixed portion of olives, pickled garlic and crunchy gherkins from the deli, it was the perfect appetizer to begin our meal and would be great ordered with a selection of Lunya’s cheese & cold meats from the deli.
As one of the group was a vegan, we ordered a selection of tapas from the vegan menu, alongside a few meat dishes. The Padron Peppers were brought first, and it was like roulette waiting for the 1 in 20 spicy peppers, in the platter of small green salty peppers sautéed with extra virgin olive oil and Maldon salt.
The crisp yet fluffy Patatas Bravas were served with a spicy tomato sauce, with the garlic aioli on the side, red hot straight from the kitchen, while the Patatas Pil Pil were ordered from the deli menu downstairs dressed in garlic, olive oil and chilli.
Next up was the Escalivada, char grilled peppers, aubergines, onions & courgette on toasted sourdough with Bim’s tiger nut Romesco sauce.
We ordered a portion of the Woodland Mushrooms, which came pan fried with delicate portions of asparagus, complimented with Parma Ham. This dish was available as vegetarian, but the ham was delicious and salty, and difficult to resist.
The second wave of dishes arrived after a five minute break, and after being concerned we couldn’t eat any more, we gladly tucked into the Albondigas – homemade pork and beef meatballs in a homemade tomato sauce. The Verduras a la Romana was the vegan option, a mixture of Mediterranean vegetables coated in Spanish frying flour, deep-fried and served with Mojon Picon sauce.
Lunya’s own recipe chorizo was one of the last dishes to arrive, fried in white wine and fennel, with the sauce gladly mopped up with chunks of the homemade sourdough bread.
We shared a total of nine dishes, plus bread and olives, between the party of three, with a decent selection from the vegan menu. If you want to try more of the menu, there are sharing platters available to get a taste of a wider selection. Lunya offer a number of specials, as well as paella which needs to be ordered for two people or more.
The food doesn’t come cheap, and it’s not difficult to get carried away, as you’ll want to try everything on the menu but it’s well worthwhile, and a great option for a special occasion. Tapas cost around £5-8 per dish, and at a recommendation of 3 or 4 per person you’ll need to budget around £50pp if you’re planning on having a couple of drinks on the side. It you’re looking for Tapas in Manchester, Lunya holds it’s own against some of the strong contenders including El Gato Negro & Iberica, with a more traditional, laid-back feel.
Lunya – Barton Arcade, Deansgate, Manchester, M3 2BB – Tel: 0161 413 3317.