Yesterday I ate one of the best meals of my life at Where The Light Gets In. But the food was only one factor within that tremendous experience. Thank you for the education in experiencing food and dining in a completely new way Sam Buckley!
From the minute we walked in it felt different and special. The space is beautiful – it’s been both an old coffee storage warehouse and a 1930’s dance hall. It gave Jamie and I instant aspirations to own a massive loft apartment. Shove our Victorian semi – we want to go minimalist, high ceiling-ed, big windowed urban loft! Total furniture and utensil envy too. All the chairs were original Ercol and had been sourced from across the country. And the glasses, decanters, ceramics, cutlery were stylish, neutral and tactile too. I spent periods of my meal just staring at the beautiful objects on my table.
Anyway back to our arrival. We were greeted by Sam Buckley the chef and founder of the restaurant. He was smiley and chatty and quick to get into an excited conversation with us about the comfort and supportiveness of Ercol chairs. And this very much sums up the approach at WTLGI – friendly and open and involving. They have 25 covers and all six staff do both front of house, cooking and all other tasks combined. So they all bob about serving, in the kitchen, pouring you wine and chatting to you about your dishes. It’s a very friendly intimate vibe. Oh yes and I forgot to mention the kitchen is slap bang in the middle of the restaurant. You can see everything close up.
Sam took us over to the lounge area pictured above and brought us a very light and tasty sparkling welsh wine and a gorgeous starter which involved sprats and I’m not sure what else. The truth is my recollection of the precise dishes of last night are sketchy because:
a) you aren’t given a menu so I’m having to rely on memory
b) I had the wine flight so I was pretty pissed by the end of the night
However I’m going to do my best to root around in my hungover head and dig out what I can remember of this marvellous night of eating and WTLGI’s unique immersive dining experience.
Once we’d had our sprats, we were taken to our table and started cracking through the courses. All brought to us by different members of staff and explained on delivery.
Have a look at the pictures below and you’ll get an idea of the sensational food we were served. All of the ingredients were either foraged or sourced locally and very seasonal. Highlights for me were the warm spelt bread with whipped butter and chicken salt; the beef and fennel sauerkraut and a lovely fish dish with brill that had both grapes and some kind of seaweed in it (the salty seaweed and sweet grape combo was divine).
The whole meal was an adventure on so many levels. I loved being in the minimalist surroundings of this beautifully designed loft like restaurant. The simplicity of the decor and utensils allowed the food to be the true star of the night. It was fascinating watching the staff prepare all the courses metres away from us. How they remained so calm and harmonious in that kitchen on opening night is beyond me! Of course the food itself was beautiful, gentle and thought provoking and as importantly the service was engaging, passionate and informative. The staff wanted us to know where the food had come from and how it had been prepared. I’m well and truly up for that. I want to know where my dinner has come from – if it’s been foraged from Chorlton Water Park or Lyme Park, or if the beef is from a farm in Wales. I loved the stories behind the dishes. It brought the whole experience to life for me.
The night was polished off with a slice of apple cake with raw milk ice-cream, an incredible local cheese board with the sharpest apples in the world, rosehip marshmallows tossed in grated chestnuts and original source Ethiopian Coffee made in Lancashire.
We had the best evening! We felt incredibly spoilt and very privileged a) to be at the WTLGI for the opening night and b) to be a part of something so unique and special.
Sam really wants to bring the craft of food to Manchester, to help his guests learn, watch, taste and appreciate the process of making incredible, intuitive food. It knocked the socks off Jamie and I. It’s not a cheap night, but is it value for money? Absolutely – for the quality of what you experience it’s an absolute bargain. Seek it out and let the light in!