Latest opening: Skof

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Skof restaurant Manchester chef Tom Barnes

Related tags Skof Tom Barnes Manchester Chef

In Manchester’s Noma district, the debut restaurant from former L’Enclume chef Tom Barnes is a personal affair.

What:​ The biggest restaurant launch in Manchester for quite some time. Skof (sic) is located moments from Manchester Victoria train station in the city’s Noma district. Trading from the ground floor of a handsome terracotta-tiled building, the restaurant offers two tasting menus alongside a more affordable set lunch menu.   

Who:​ Former Simon Rogan lieutenant Tom Barnes. Originally from The Lakes, the 35-year-old has spent a total of 12 years working within Rogan’s restaurant group. He was head chef at Rogan & Co when it received a Michelin star, and executive chef at the group’s flagship L’Enclume when it gained its third Michelin star in 2022. In 2014, while working with Rogan, Barnes won the Roux Scholarship. In 2020, he reached the final of Great British Menu and ended up serving the main course at the final banquet. Skof will be owned and operated by Barnes but will form ‘part of the next iteration’ of Rogan’s Umbel Restaurants, where the group will ‘support talented individuals in opening their own restaurants and businesses’.

The food:​ By Barnes’ own admission, his cooking style is comparable to that of his mentor. Indeed, the very first thing that hits the table is a Dexter beef tartare snack flavoured with coal oil, a proprietary ingredient of Rogan’s. The kitchen at Skof is also using many of the same suppliers as Rogan’s empire and sources the bulk of its fruit and veg from Umbel Restaurants’ Our Farm. Dishes on the tasting menu (£165 for around 15 courses, £120 for around 12 courses) include scallops in a broth flavoured with garum with spring vegetables, fried oyster and dulse seaweed; a lightly set miso custard topped with hen of the woods mushroom, truffle and dashi; roast duck with fig leaf and celeriac; and Our Farm strawberries with jasmine cream, rose geranium and caramelised white chocolate. Given who is involved, the lunch menu is a bit of a bargain offering four courses for £50. 


The vibe:​ Designed by London-based studio Blacksheep, the 35-cover site references the dualities of Barnes’ rural upbringing versus his new home in Manchester and the building’s character versus the city’s industrial history, echoing ‘the natural and the urban’. The large space is stripped back and contemporary. Design details include exposed brickwork, parquet flooring, striking circular wall lights and a fully-open kitchen with counter seating where diners are invited to take some of their courses.  

And another thing:​ Barnes' cooking may be reminiscent of the restaurant group he remains linked to, but as an overall experience Skof feels distinct. This is largely due to Barnes having been encouraged to put his own stamp on the place. This includes choosing the soundtrack, commissioning artwork and a dessert that is presented as a homage to his late father Barney. Staffed by a very young energetic team - many of whom worked with Barnes in The Lakes at L’Enclume and Rogan & Co - Skof looks set to make its mark on Manchester's restaurant scene. 

3 Hanover Street, Manchester M4 4BF

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