MediaCity’s first independent restaurant ceased trading on Sunday

OWNERS Steve Pilling and Chef Simon Stanley have called time on the MediaCity outpost of their fine dining restaurant Damson. The first-floor venue opened in 2013, hoping to cater for the thousands of media types flocking to the relocated BBC and ITV Granada studios in Salford.

It has struggled with the influx of pop-ups, mid-market chains and more casual dining outlets. Mr Pilling has blamed "the malaise and lack of demand for finer dining, or as we like to call it ‘affordable luxury'.”

Damson’s menu focused on Modern British cooking with Mediterranean influences while the wine list was generally rated as one of the best in the region. However, the restaurant gathered mixed reviews; our editor at large, Jonathan Schofield rather enjoyed it (see here), but Damson was famously slated by The Times' restaurant critic Giles Coren, who spewed gems such as ‘Ham hock terrine looked and tasted like an army ration of corned beef dropped from a back pocket on a yomp.’

Steve Pilling and Simon Stanley

According to our sources, there are no outward hints of closure in the restaurant itself; no signs on the windows and no bailiffs carrying out furniture or equipment. Things are very low key with just the menu having been removed from its casing and the website automatically redirecting people to the Heaton Moor site. The only sign on social media so far seems to be the senior kitchen staff actively seeking employment via Twitter. Management is currently contacting customers with existing bookings and directing them towards their original Heaton Moor restaurant, which is still in business as usual.

“We are simply down-sizing,” Steve told us whilst hinting at future plans for the business which includes The Red Lion, High Lane and The Dockyard pubs in MediaCity and Spinningfields. Earlier this month, we reported that the bar area of Damson in Heaton Moor had quietly re-opened as a rustic tapas and gin bar ‘La Cantina’ to reflect current market demand. The tapas bar does not take bookings but welcomes walk-in customers Monday to Friday from midday and from 10 for brunch on weekends.