A derelict bank has been given a second life as a bar and restaurant in Withington, Manchester.

On the night I went, I felt like I had stumbled into Beauty and the Beast’s enchanted castle thanks to the the candlelit room stuffed full of character. My belly rumbled with a mix of excitement and hunger, waiting for the next reveal: the menu.

I’m a fussy eater and wondered how the restaurant would cope with a vegetarian and lactose-intolerant diet. A first glance at the menu showed no vegan or dairy-free alternatives, but a quick chat with the waiter and I was reassured that dishes could be adapted on request.

I ordered marinated green and black olives for my starter, preserved in lemon and garlic. The plentiful portion was enough for two and surprisingly filling. Next up, a main course of roast cauliflower. The flavours were lovely – dal makhani, cucumber labneh, dukkah and ghee – and the cauliflower was perfectly crisp, but I found it a bit rich for my taste buds. 

Meanwhile, my co-diner (my twin sister) went for the Margherita pizza, the base piled high with fior di latte, cherry tomatoes and San Marzano sauce. I took two slices (despite my intolerance) because, well, it’s pizza. If your body allows you to eat cheese without punishment, I would definitely recommend it. 

Before leaving, I had a chat with the general manager, Callum Stretton, to find out how the launch was going and what he would choose from the menu. “It’s gone really well to be honest with you, although you’re always a bit apprehensive. The food looks banging and the feedback from guests so far has been great. All the dishes that we thought as our star dishes, everyone’s been highlighting them, so we know we have hit the mark with them, and drinks have gone swimmingly.”

He added: “I would order the pork belly, it’s probably one of our most simple dishes but it is so tasty.”

So, if you’re looking for a classy venue where you’re welcomed like royalty, The Libertine is the perfect spot. And the only beast will be you, trying not to overdo it on the moreish dishes. 

By Megan Bond

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The Libertine