El Gato Negro was born from Simon Shaw’s fascination with, and love of, Spanish food and wine. While working in London Simon visited Catalonia and the Basque country, immediately succumbing to the diversity, excitement and informality of modern Spanish cuisine, especially tapas. Determined to bring this then under-appreciated cuisine to a wider audience, in 2005 Simon returned north to open El Gato Negro in a empty former pub in the Pennine village of Ripponden. Wishing for good luck, and with a nod to a favourite old shop in Madrid, he named it ‘El Gato Negro’ (the black cat in Spanish). Serendipitously it later transpired the pub had been called the Black Cat many years before.
Hard work, and perhaps a little of the black cat’s luck, paid off from the start, and the restaurant’s star rose steadily, picking up awards and accolades year on year. First regional, and then national food critics made their way to the picturesque Pennines to sample and celebrate a northern outpost of Spanish food. In 2009 El Gato Negro’s reputation grew further, winning best local Spanish restaurant in the country on Gordon Ramsay’s F Word. Reviews and listings continued to grow – and glow – as Simon refined a distinctive, bold and confident menu and style that was all his own. There were positive annual listings in the Good Food Guide; Hardens hailed El Gato Negro the ‘best tapas in the north’; The Times ranked it the number one tapas bar in the country; and finally the Michelin Guide awarded a prestigious Bib Gourmand to the restaurant in both 2014 and 2015.
In autumn 2014 we announced plans to bring Simon’s style of modern Spanish cooking to a wider audience, this time in the heart of Manchester city centre. Since then we’re delighted to have restored our beautiful building, developed an expanded and enhanced offering over three floors, and opened at our new home at 52 King Street. We hope you can join us to experience the next chapter of El Gato Negro in Manchester.