Evuna with thanks to lep.co.uk
Evuna is decked out in dark wood, evoking the romance and passion of Spain - it's quite easy to imagine a fiesty senorita turning down her matador lover in one of the broody corners of the restaurant. It's a lively place, lubricated by plenty of good wine and the darkness of the room only adds to the mystique. The bar features prominently as you enter; an important thing seeing that Evuna is Manchester's premier Spanish wine importer.
We were eating early enough to qualify for the lunch special (3 tapas for £10, Mon-Sat 12 noon-6pm), but decided to order mostly from the larger tapas menu, which offered far more variety. The specials of the day were roasted pork belly and braised ox cheek - both were ordered by myself as they sounded delightful and the boy had ordered nearly everything else off the menu anyway.
Unlike previous visits (I should mention previous means at leats two years ago) where food has been disappointing; the dishes this evening were very, very good. Notably the pork belly with it's crispy crackling and fruity breadcrumbs adding both a contrast in texture and a good foil for the salty, fatty cubes of porcine delightfulness. The ox cheek was delivered in one of the thickest sauces I have had, with a good punch of beefy umami leaving your tastebuds screaming for more.
The patatas bravas were fragrant with fennel, giving it a sweet yet lively taste that complimented the many pork dishes on the table. The Iberico Bellota was from a good quality, well sourced ham - the sweet nuttiness emanating through each generously marbled slice. The plate of ham was expensive, but it was a good sized portion and worth paying extra for the quality.
Iberico Bellota - yum yum
Thankfully most dishes sang to us that evening, the only bum notes were the dishes we had ordered off the special lunch menu - the tortilla was so bland I can't even think of any words to describe it and the chorizo in vino tinto was overly oily and a bit bitter.
There's one aspect where Evuna outshines everything (even the wonderful belly pork cubes) and that's on the wine (they are a well-respected importer...). The waitress guided us through the comprehensive wine list and chose a bottle that not only complimented the dishes we had ordered, but our wallets as well. When that wine was out she suggested a very agreeable alternative and allowed us to try before buying.
Evuna knows its stuff; their produce is well sourced, the staff are very knowledgeable and helpful and most of the dishes that come out of the kitchen grab your attention with their big punches of taste, clever layers of flavouring and generous (for tapas) portions. For a place that's got wine at it's heart, it's also a hub for good food, relaxed eating and reasonable prices.
Ps - If you love the wine you're drinking, or just want a really good bottle of Spanish wine, Evuna has a licence to sell alcohol for consumption off the property - the prices are also cheaper than the bottles you drink in house so you can carry on your party at home for less!
Pps - Evuna also holds wine tasting nights and other Spanish themed events - check out the website for more info.
Price for eight tapas, one lunch special (3 plates), one bottle of cava, one bottle of wine, one pudding, two PX sherries and three coffees - £158.27
Food - 8/10
Atmosphere - 8/10
Service - 8/10
Value for money - 7/10
Evuna, 277-279 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EW - 0161 819 2752 - firstname.lastname@example.org - @Evunamanchester