Simon Shaw preparing to open third restaurant brand

Simon Shaw

Simon Shaw, chef patron and creative director of El Gato Negro & Canto, has revealed plans for his third restaurant, Habas.

Located at 43a Brown St, in the heart of Manchester, the modern Middle Eastern restaurant and bar will provide premium drinks, dining and live music until late.

He said: “It will be the type of venue that I like to go to – 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 II heritage building owned by Bruntwood.

Details of the design are being kept under wraps 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.

Shaw said: “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.

“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.”

He revealed plans for Habas were formed well before the pandemic struck: “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.”

On launch, Habas will be the third restaurant from 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.