Canter to Canto – VIVA is wowed by the Mediterranean tapas eatery

Emma Chadwick | 5th December 2019

Probably the best polenta dish ever aren’t words I ever expected to say but then this is Canto from the same famous stable as El Gato Negro which has been trailblazing the best tapas in the north for some while.


Canto is the cheeky hipster younger brother in the Ancoats’ sizzling hot food scene and opened its doors in September already earning a fabulous reputation under the careful conducting of Simon Shaw and the El Gato team.


It’s booths, rough-hewn tabletops, a gigantic open kitchen and at this time of year extra magical with sparkling festive lights.


The polenta was just one of many great dishes served up, a gorgeous goo of eggs, spinach, manchego cheese that dibbled down your throat and delighted.


There's a new menu at Canto and the food is as comforting as the restaurant's warm & relaxed interior


There are deals – £15 for three tapas – but the prices here are good (from £4.50 a dish), especially when given the top-notch quality.


We started with some nibbly dishes (from £3.50), jambon croquettes are a staple, warm and mushy mix up of flavours, chicken wings had no bones and were a slick meaty bite, olive were describes as the best olives there ever were and bread from the Pollen bakery (equally famous) a warm treat.


Onto tapas (as we hadn’t even really started yet) and they recommend between five or six for two people. These come when ready, so they are as a fresh as the minute they were cooked, which is when you get them.


First up tiger prawns, piping hot and slickly cooked, wonderful to rip apart and get down and dirty. Sea Bream with a buttered pea and rice that was the perfect partner, was a tasty beautiful dish and one of my personal best.


Canter to Canto – VIVA is wowed by the Mediterranean tapas eatery

Head chef Carlos Gomes is the behind the new dishes at Canto.


Pigs cheeks sound grisly, but these are rich and dense, while a baked cauliflower and beans was, I imagine, vegan heaven and a lamb special was out of this world. And of course, that polenta.


Cocktails are from £4.50 and we sampled a passion fruit Bellini and espresso martinis that more than hit the spot while a bottle of red recommended by the lovely server helped keep the Manc damp away and filled with warmth (from £21).


Desserts were so tempting we actually had them and that was a good decision. Salted caramel ice cream (puds from a really reasonable £2.50) was the third best ever dish of the night while carrot cake was a gorgeous dense treat and my tart, fabulous, tiny and perfect.


VIVA verdict: Fantastic food with some of the best dishes in town in a gorgeous space with great people. An utter bargain at these prices.


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