Middle Eastern Delight: Simon Shaw announces new restaurant
Emma Chadwick | 31st March 2021
Middle Eastern Delight as super chef Simon Shaw announces new restaurant concept – and it’s opening in Spring!
Eating out can’t come fast enough for lockdown weary Brits and to make VIVA’s day even better, Simon Shaw, chef patron and creative director of El Gato Negro & Canto, has revealed plans for his third restaurant, Habas.
It will be based in the heart of Manchester and will be a Middle Eastern restaurant and bar, promising premium drinks, dining and live music until late.
“It will be the type of venue that I like to go to,” Shaw told VIVA. “Somewhere that you can settle down for the night with great table service and music too.”
The introduction of a live music programme follows the success of exclusive events hosted at Shaw’s wider restaurants, with the new venue providing the perfect space to incorporate music as a regular feature.
Opening this spring, the new venture will occupy the lower ground floor of the beautiful Grade Two heritage building owned by Bruntwood. Details of the design are being kept under wrap for now although diners can expect a total transformation of the expansive space with elements of the historic building lovingly restored in-keeping with Shaw’s sibling restaurants.
The restaurant will be headed up by the multi-award-winning chef patron, supported by senior sous chef, Craig Rutherford. It will focus on Shaw’s modern interpretation of Middle Eastern dishes, influenced by the region’s rich and varied cultures, with a greater emphasis on group dining alongside intimate dinners.
Speaking on his introduction to Middle Eastern food, Shaw says: “I was probably into Middle Eastern food before Spanish if I’m honest. It was back in ‘98 when I was living in London that I first became interested in it; going for a shawarma late at night was our thing.
El Gato is another one of super chef Simon's restaurants in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds.
“We’d go to these incredible places on Edgeware Road or in Bayswater after work, or even after we’d been out, it was quite a social thing. I remember thinking wow, what a great style of food this is; it’s amazing, so fresh and vibrant.
“I knew then that I wanted to open a modern Middle Eastern restaurant; this isn’t a new thing. I’ve directed some of that influence into dishes at El Gato Negro as there’s so much overlap in styles and ingredients, but it’s really exciting to focus on this diverse region’s many cuisines with Habas.”
Asked if the pandemic had thrown plans for Habas into question, Shaw added: “Habas has been a long time in the making. It’s been a good couple of years since we first acquired the site and commenced construction work. We hit a couple of obstacles early on, as is to be expected when renovating a heritage building, and that required us to revise our timings. And then came the pandemic.
“It’s been tough as you’d expect, but abandoning plans for Habas was never an option, if anything it’s given us a greater appetite. We’ve had time to really develop the concept and focus on what we want it to be. We’re in a good place; I’m really excited to be entering this final stage of work and am looking forward to opening Habas later this Spring.”
Upon launch Habas will be the third restaurant from acclaimed chef Simon Shaw, joining multi-award-winning El Gato Negro (Manchester, Liverpool, and Leeds), and sister restaurant Canto (Ancoats, Manchester). Both El Gato Negro and Canto were recognised in the Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland, 2021, with El Gato Negro, Manchester, awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand for the fifth consecutive year, and Canto awarded a prestigious Plate MICHELIN.
Habas will launch this spring. For further news and developments sign up to the restaurant and bar’s newsletter at habas.co.uk or follow Habas on @habasmcr.