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South Manchester

62 posts in this topic

GREENS, WEST DIDSBURY

Simon Rimmer seems to be haunting our eating of late. As upthread, we were at Earle the other week. Earlier this week, we had lunch at Sutton Hall in Macclesfield and we're sure he was in. And now tonight we've been at his main gaff.

I suspect if you’re a vegetarian, you’ll always be well pleased with a meal at Greens. And confirmed omnivores, like us, will usually go away reasonably satisfied. No real craving for a nice lamb chop on the side, if you see what I mean. The offerings are generally far superior to the “veggie option” on most bistro-level menus. For instance, a very savoury Lancashire cheese cheesecake comes with a pokey, yet sweet, carrot chutney and some crisp watercress. It could so easily have been ruined by the use of a bland cheese but this one, as we say round here about Lanky cheese, was “tasty”. As with several dishes, the other starter had its roots away from British shores. A crisp puri, topped with peas and potato in a rogan josh style sauce, finished with yoghurt. Delicious.

My partner followed this with Cheshire cheese sausage – Glamorgan sausage by another name. Again, a good choice of cheese made this anything but bland. There was a delicious beer-based gravy in the bowl – again hitting sweet/savoury notes. Usually comes with mustard mash but herself can’t stand mash so swapped it out for chips. My own main had read quite well but was very underwhelming – a “sandwich” of two sheets of puff pastry enclosing what was described as “roasted squash, hazelnuts, caramelised onions in a cream & tarragon sauce”. Well, the squash was there and the cream was there and I suppose the tiny amount of onion meant they had met their obligations there. But the missing hazelnuts would have provided texture; the missing tarragon would have lifted the sauce. It was just bland – not vilely so but just not a great pleasure to eat. My side order of chips were, however, bloody good – just as they had been at Simon Rimmer’s other restaurant, Earle, the other week.

Service had been good. Reasonable selection of reasonably priced wines by the glass. A pleasant enough experience for a midweek dinner, the current Good Food Guide rating at 2 being about right.


John Hartley

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SINDHOOR, MAULDETH ROAD, BURNAGE

Amongst Indian restaurants in this area, Sindhoor is a triple rarity. Firstly, it’s Indian rather than the more usual Bangladeshi ownership. Second, it has a “proper” menu of individual dishes – none of the “any protein with any sauce” gloop of the high street curry house. And, finally, the cooking is South Indian – one of, I think, only two in Greater Manchester.

From the offerings of the page of starters, there’s not much that immediately tempts – perhaps lamb chops or one of the rasam soups. But turn to the page of dosas and let your greedy eyes feast on the list. A masala dosa was enormous, perhaps not quite crispy enough for perfection but a good filling of potato, onion, well spiced and with a good chilli hit. From the same page, a new one for me – sambar vada. Two vadas, like damn big dumplings, had been cooked, fried and then allowed to soak in the sambar. I’d have happily eaten the sambar on its own as a thick lentily soup, fresh coriander and curry leaves providing a fresh and complex flavour, along with chilli. This was almost a meal in itself. Almost.

For mains, I went with Chicken Chettinad (Google later telling me this is a classic from the region of Tamilnadu). This was a very rounded dish, again fresh with the taste of curry leaves and coriander, the chilli softened by coconut. I ordered plain rice which was more of the claggy than fluffy variety.

My partner went with a Keralan version of a veggie biriyani. The veggies mainly a delicate mix of broad beans and peas, this seemed a more refined version of the usual North Indian offerings. Certainly it was hotter, yet at the same time softened and almost sweetened a little with distinct flavouring from mint and coriander leaf. Alongside, a little dish of lime pickle, another of a chunky cucumber raita and a small pappadum to give a little crunch.

A worthy addition to the small list of decent South Asian restaurants in the area.


John Hartley

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Lotus, Northenden

Lotus is the other South Indian place in town. It has a full menu of South Indian classics and also a Malaysian menu. So far I've only had a dosa to take away. It was good enough to warrant a return visit to eat in.

I ordered a chicken masala dosa (£5.30 I think) to go. A dosa is probably not the best choice for takeaway as the pancake goes a bit floppy in transit. Thirty seconds under a hot grill crisped it up nicely though.

The results: not bad at all. Crisp, thin dosa, nearly as long as your arm. Spiced potato and chicken curry fillings, generous with the chicken. Classic accompaniments - sambhar and two chutney's. The spicing was fairly decent throughout, with plenty of curry leaves and mustard seeds in evidence, but not really enough heat. South Indian food usually purges you with a full-on chilli blast. This was a bit tame in comparison with my past experiences, but I guess this could just be them catering to the market. Most of the South Indian spots in London are canteens catering to the local Tamil populations, not a particularly big market in Northenden I suppose.


Visit Northern Food at http://m62food.blogspot.com/

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ISINGLASS, URMSTON

The website proudly proclaims that “Isinglass English Dining Room has been awarded the prestigeous [sic] Michelin Bib”. What the fuck’s this all about?

It hasn’t been awarded a Bib. It doesn’t hold a Bib. It didn’t hold Bib in 2010. Or in 2009. Why fucking lie about such things? It’s not just the complete misrepresentation that’s the problem. It now makes me distrust every other statement on their website. And this is a big problem for a place advertising itself on the basis of very specific, very local, food provenance.

And what’s even worse, they don’t need to lie. The food is actually none too shabby and will happily take on the area’s “Modern Brit” competition.

A butternut squash fritter was a substantial looking starter – simply mashed squash formed into a sausage, bread-crumbed and deep fried. Tasted OK but need more seasoning. This was a problem – Isinglass is one of those places where salt and pepper are in open dishes into which generations of punters have dipped their fingers on returning from the bogs or scratching their “down below” bits. No thanks, we’ll eat it bland. And, in this case, not quite hot enough. There was a little horseradish cream, watercress and poached rhubarb which all went to perk it up somewhat

Speaking of the bogs, I paid a visit. Isinglass is one of those places which use paper towels. All well and good – but only if you also provide a bin for the used towels. Otherwise, you just have to throw them on the floor. Which I did.

Any way, back to the starters. My first choice of goose breast was “off”, having sold out at lunch (allegedly). As were my first two choices of main. So it was to be black pudding, sliced lengthways, sat on some watercress and Lancashire “pancetta” and topped with a poached duck egg. Good dish, well executed – meaty, salty, crisp, eggy.

I followed this with a venison Wellington. Nice tasty piece of Bambi, unfortunately on its way to being well done. No duxelles and the encasing pastry limp and a tad undercooked. A good sweet/sharp blackcurrant sauce was bang-on. As was a fondant potato. I’m never sure whether kale makes a good veg – great taste and great look on the plate, but it goes stone cold as soon as you look at it. A dollop of the horseradish cream mentioned earlier worked well.

My partner went for a fillet steak – declared as being 28 day aged from Moorelands Farm. Dunno about the Moorelands bit as I can’t find any internet reference to them so it might be another drop of puffed up porkies. That said, this was steak with flavour. Came with the classic accompaniments – mushroom, tomato and chips. Unfortunately, the ubiquitous “fat chips”, but cooked in duck fat to a good crispness.

Desserts were a fig and apple semi-freddo and a chocolate cheesecake with a star anise and blackcurrant sauce. Both were OK but nothing to shout from the rooftops about.

And, in the final bit of irritation, the bill comes as an un-itemised total, separating only the drinks from the food. £11.45 for the former, £59.30 for the latter. It was probably right but, in this day and age, is an itemised one too much to expect?


John Hartley

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I quite liked the look of Isinglass, not sure whether your post has encouraged or discouraged me! Can't believe they are lying about having a Bib Gourmand. Anyway, on to the main reason for this post.

Dosa Express, Withington

Another worthy addition to the Manchester South Indian food options. Very basic, canteen type of place. I think Sindhoor is probably a bit more upmarket from the description above. The food is fairly good here though.

I ordered a portion of Medhu Vada and the chicken meal special. The vada were freshly fried with nice crispy edges and a soft centre. They were a bit underspiced (chilli, mustard seeds, curry leaves, black pepper, onions are the usual suspects) but pleasant to eat with the accompanying chutney's (coconut, coriander, and one other) and sambar. The highlight of the meal was the chicken curry. The other components of the meal special (poppadum, salad, rice) were ok but the curry itself was excellent. It had a real depth of flavour, with cardamom and cloves being particularly prominent, and a slow building background chilli heat that had me shovelling in rice to cool the fire. Really good stuff.

It's cheap too, £7.26 including soft drink with 20% discount for ordering early.


Visit Northern Food at http://m62food.blogspot.com/

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I think possibly Isinglass reads egullet. Or, perhaps, it's me grassing them to Michelin.

Either way, their website has now been amended and simply reads that they are recommended in the current Michelin Guide. Which is certainly accurate and, in my view, a worthy entry.


John Hartley

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I think possibly Isinglass reads egullet. Or, perhaps, it's me grassing them to Michelin.

Me grassing them - according to an email this morning from Michelin.

Now, go there folks and have a nice dinner.


John Hartley

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GRENACHE, WALKDEN

OK, so Walkden is in Salford whch is not "south" of the city but it fits in my quest for restaurant suburbia.

We’d had Grenache on our “to do” list for a while and were interested to see it pick up the “Manchester” award in the Hi-Life Diners Club awards the other week. However, once inside the restaurant, I found myself getting peeved quite quickly. Nothing about the place. Nothing about the food. It was the owner. He’s just one of those blokes who irritate me just by existing. But he got off to a really bad start with me. In the middle of taking our order, his mobile phone went off. Did he ignore it? Nope, he checked it and answered. “Hello, Mum” ....and picked up the menus and walked off to have his chat, leaving us with wine unordered. Now the situation was rescued by his excellent young waitress who must have realised what had happened and swiftly came over to take the order. In due course, he came back to apologise saying Mum was more important than customers. Yes, he really meant that as an apology. Tosser.

Now I’ve got that off my chest, let’s talk about the place. Decoration and furniture is very modern – there’s a few quid been spent here. They style themselves as “decadent dining” – for sure that’s the owner’s take on his menu which, in reality, has nothing of the decadent about it. But it’s a well constructed Modern Brit bistro affair offering a fixed price three course menu at a bargain £16.95 (although a couple of dishes will add a few quid supplement) or a more extensive, but well-priced, carte.

My partner went for the fixed price but choosing both the dishes with the supplement. A starter of accurately cooked scallops sat on little discs of black pudding. There was a little sharp apple puree and a smoked cheddar cream (the latter just bland and white). She followed this with a sirloin steak, red wine and pancetta jus, chips and some perfectly cooked cabbage. Pretty standard bistro food and none the worse for that.

Meanwhile I’d started with a smoked haddock risotto, topped with a poached egg. Good concept, except for the risotto being a bit too claggy in the way it often is in Britain. But it tasted good. I followed that with pork fillet, simply pan-fried, a fairly rich fondant potato (I’d have happily eaten another), some just wilted spinach and a few blobs of an overly sweet berry sauce.

Grenache doesn’t offer half bottles of wine but does have a good selection of above average offerings by the glass, including a champagne.

It’s the sort of food a reasonably competent home cook could handle but, some nights, I’m happy to let someone else do that cooking. They’re certainly getting things right with their customer base – place was busy.


John Hartley

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You really should have got up and left once he came to "apologise". Mind you there is nothing else for miles around.

Mobile phones....WHY?


Edited by David Naylor (log)

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Definitely an attitude problem, David - I suspect wanting to act the "Big Man in his Restaurant". And, indeed, we heard him speak to customers on a couple of occasions mentioning that it was "his restaurant, so things are done as he wants them". Another party, as they were leaving, accidentally knocked a napkin on the floor - chummy picked it up and went after them clearly to "have words" (although we couldnt hear what was said). I can't recall similar rudeness towards folk - all very Basil Fawlty.

On the other hand, his wife/partner is lovely with excellent customer skills and, as I've mentioned, the young lass serving.


John Hartley

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JEM & I, DIDSBURY

Less than ten minutes from home, this is pretty much my neighbourhood restaurant (although it’s a couple of years since we were last here). And it really does have pretty much everything I want from a neighbourhood restaurant – a short, well priced menu of interesting sounding “modern European” dishes; smiley staff who know what they’re doing, an attractive room, modern comfortable furniture (even if the tables for two are a whisker too small for everything you want to put on them), a decent wine list (although no half bottles and nothing really interesting by the glass). Oh, and a kitchen that’s bloody good at its job. Jem & I has, in the past, held a Michelin Bib Gourmand and still appears in the Guide. It also appears in Hardens although, somewhat gob-smackingly, not in the Good Food Guide.

The menu kicks off with a couple of nibbles – breads and olives. But what jumped off the page was “fish and chips”. Oh, yeah, we’re having some of that. A single fillet each – cod, of course, because this is Manchester. Delicious fish, light crisp batter. And shoestring fries – served in a newspaper cone. A real newspaper cone. Like chips used to come in. I am now fully, totally, absolutely, on this restaurant’s bus.

There’s nothing wussy about the flavours here. So, one starter of Bang Bang Chicken was punchy with chilli, vinegar and peanut sauce – the meat just cooked through and still juicy. The other, a generous portion of king prawns cooked in olive oil, garlic, chilli and parsley with some rocket leaves on the side. Both these plates were emptied as quickly as though food was going out of fashion.

The prawn dish seemed very Iberian and the main that followed had its roots in the same part of the world. Grilled sea bass, sat on a pile of spinach and chorizo – the sausage a fine example of the chorizo making art – porky and with a whack from pimenton and chilli, fried to a crispy loveliness. Some salad leaves to mop things up and, separately, a bowl of patatas bravas. To quote wossisname, these were deep and savoury flavourings – the sweetness of the fish counterpointed with the heat of the chorizo and potato, yet not overpowered by them.

I’d gone with a dish much happier in northern Europe. Fillet and loin of lamb – bang on cooking – delicious meat. Crisp rosti potato, some sautéed green beans and spring onions, surrounded by a wine and rosemary jus. Separately, a little gratin dish of sweet butternut squash. Exactly my sort of grub.

Too full for dessert, we just got the bill. It was just shy of £80, food making up about £50 and drinks the rest. Best meal we’ve had in many weeks. Bar none.

It's a "jem" of a place [groans]


Edited by Harters (log)

John Hartley

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Went back to Dosa Express in Withington to try a dosa.

A madras masala dosa was pleasant enough, the dosa was fairly light and crispy and the potato filling wasn't stodgy but was a touch bland. The accompanying chutney's and sambar were fresh and distinctively spiced. I couldn't resist a couple of mutton rolls on the side too. These were excellent. Crisp and greaseless with an intensely spiced (loads of chilli & black pepper) mutton and potato filling.


Visit Northern Food at http://m62food.blogspot.com/

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KOSMOS, FALLOWFIELD

There was a time when Loulla Astin seemed to be never off the TV screens – at least here in the North West. There was a time when Kosmos appeared in the Good Food Guide. Of course, these times are some 30 years ago but Kosmos is still doing what it does – serving up a pretty standard set of Greek Cypriot dishes at very reasonable prices to a mainly student customer base.

We’d been in Cyprus last year and were interested to see how Kosmos’ set mezze meal compared to the four meals we’d had “over there”. Well, truth be told, not as good as even the most touristy of the four. Now, that’s not to say that the food was bad or that we didn’t have a pleasant evening. It wasn’t and we did. But it lacked a “something”. Or maybe “somethings” – a lack of assertive seasoning and spicing, a loss of absolutely ripe tomatoes and other salad ingredients, a sense that quality was just lacking a tad.

First up, a selection of bog standard dips – houmous, tzatziki, taramosalata – tabbouleh and a mixed feta salad. Served with just about enough bread. Nothing offensive here but nothing to interest either – the sort of food you can easily make at home and, most likely, do a better job. Certainly we could.

Then the hot “second course” items. A very decent stifado, rich with onions. Rethivia – chickpeas in what was probably the best spicing of the evening – a tomato sauce flavoured heavily with cumin and a punch from chilli and coriander. Another plate of standard mezze fayre – grilled halloumi, a spicy sausage, tender and very tasty lamb meatballs, dolmades (as my partner suggested – not as good as Marks & Sparks), spanakopita (sp?) – crisp non-greasy pastry encasing spinach and a salty feta – and the most enjoyable thing on that plate

And the final course – lamb kebabs and rice. Good rice, nicely flavoured with a hint of cinnamon. The kebabs a bit of the curate’s egg – one perfectly cooked and meltingly tender; the other a bit overdone and quite chewy.

The mezze costs £18 which is probably not bad value for Manchester but we recalled the far better quality we’d eaten in Cyprus for less than that in euros.


John Hartley

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LIME TREE, WEST DIDSBURY

There are some folk who would flag the Lime Tree as South Manchester’s “best”. I wouldn’t be one of them. Yes, it’s been there for donkey’s years. And, yes, it continues to produce reasonably good mid-range food. And, yes, it was packed. But, it misses out on the big flavours and accurate cooking of, say, the nearby Jem & I.

There’s welcoming and efficient service; a menu that’s good to read and well priced for the area (starters at £6 – 7, and mains around the sixteen quid mark) and a wine list packed with stuff by the glass or half bottle which is always a plus point as we are a one drinking person couple.

Moules mariniere were a good offering. Plump, juicy mussels and a tasty classic broth (although this was little more than a moistening of the bottom of the bowl). It came with bread and a thoughtful finger bowl.

The following main was well thought out and executed. A fillet of sea bass managed to get right the combination of moist flakes of flesh and crispy skin. A salmon fishcake provided a tasty carb and there was just cooked, and very seasonal, asparagus, along with a tomato and basil butter sauce. Good dish.

Meanwhile, I ordered my own meat feast and was not about to have got the better of the ordering. The starter was described as “breast of wood pigeon, confit pork belly and Bury black pudding” and was exactly that. Big breast of pigeon cooked rare and then sliced lengthways in two to serve. A lengthways slice of pudding had been briefly fried and was a good meaty, earthy example of Lancashire’s finest. A small slice of the pork belly was similar in texture to the rather slippery version you get in Chinese restaurants. This is a good thing, of course. The meats sat on a little heap of spinach and a light, if overly salty jus.

Calves liver with bubble & squeak could have been a belter of dish. It’d have needed a more precise preparation of the liver to remove sinew but was otherwise nicely “just cooked”. It’d have needed the bubble & squeak to be bubble & squeak. But this was really just mashed potato with a little bit of greenery stirred through with no real sign of seeing any crust-inducing heat from the pan. There was a different thin and overly salty jus. Well, of course, I cleared my plate but it was not with any great enjoyment.


John Hartley

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PERSIA GRILL, BARLOW MOOR ROAD, CHORLTON

I think there's a local by-law that requires anyone going along Barlow Moor Road to look over at Southern Cemetery and make some remark about it being the "dead centre of Manchester". Laugh, I nearly pissed myself.

If memory serves, the last time I was in these premises was getting on for 20 years ago when it was called Zorbas - a kebab takeaway with a few tables. We had a couple of cracking mezze meals there. Well, times have changed although not necessarily always for the better.

As the name implies, the cuisine is now Iranian – that interesting point somewhere between the better known Middle Eastern food and the Mogul dishes of the north of the Indian sub-continent. It’s a pleasant enough room – stripped floorboards, a mismatch of furniture, heavy iconic decoration on the walls. Good service was delivered by the lone waitress. The menu is encouragingly short for this sort of place – a dozen or so starters, maybe a few more mains. Mains are mainly kebabs and stews.

Halim Bademjan was an interesting starter – mashing together aubergine, long cooked lamb and lentils into a thick, almost paste like consistency. In fact, a consistency very like the soundalike Indian haleem. Also good were some nicely vinegared torshi – a good mix of carrot, courgette and cauliflower. Less interesting was a salad shirazi – finely diced cucumber, onion and tomato. I’ve had this before and it’s usually punchy with a hefty use of herbs and lemon but, here, herbs were absent and there was little citrus zing. There were really excellent crisp flatbreads (again, like an Indian tandoori roti)

Mains were disappointing. Fesenjan is a chicken stew which should be a wake-up call – the sauce, sweet/sour with pomegranate molasses and considerably thickened with crushed walnuts. I've eaten it a couple of times and it can be lovely. This was a thin utterly boring gravy that might, possibly, have been shown the bottle of pomegranate and been told what a walnut looked like. The chicken itself was OK and there was good basmati rice. I’d looked forward to eating this and have to confess that I sulked a bit when I realised how poor an example it was.

I reckon my partner had ordered better although, unfortunately, she was also underwhelmed with her choice of barg. Lamb fillet, beaten out to a flat steak, marinated in saffron and grilled. It should have been simple and brilliant. But it wasn’t. Nothing wrong with it – except that it wasn’t particularly good lamb and, shall we say, a restrained seasoning of the marinade meant that it wasn’t much lifted.

Of course, this isn’t high level cooking. It’s a casual, very inexpensive, neighbourhood restaurant that’s been around for a few years and is cooking sufficiently well to keep it in business for a few more. If they just tweaked the dishes then I might just want to go back in less than 20 years. Although, by then, I might be making a much more long term visit across the road to the Cemetery.


John Hartley

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PETRA, UPPER BROOK STREET

My favourite local place for my favourite “foreign” food. Under Syrian ownership, there’s a fairly generic middle eastern menu. Situated on Upper Brook Street, just south of the city centre, behind the Infirmary, it’s in a bit of an odd location. And there’s not much parking round about. But that doesn’t stop folk from coming here and it was quite busy on this weekday evening. No doubt, it’s because it’s a nice casual place, serving good food at very reasonable prices.

There was a good selection of freebie pickles – salty turnip, cabbage, courgette, fiery chillis and some decent olives. Along with pitta, this kept the three of us going until the mezze starters arrived. There were three of us but we’d been fairly restrained in ordering.

Kibbeh were lovely – well seasoned moist lamb encased in crisp wheat. Falafel were also pretty good – although a tad too long in the fryer meant they were overcrisp (OK, burnt). Better were the sujok – good spicing in the sausages here. Fattoush was spot-on – crisp cucumber and radish, toasted pitta, tomato, onion and a dressing really tangy with lemon and sumac. There was more pitta along with tahini sauce and a very pokey tomato based chilli sauce.

There’s a few stew type dishes on the menu but, like most other plates I saw going past, we were having kebabs for a main course. A generous serving of chicken, marinated in the ubiquitous Lebanese garlic “white sauce” which is often served alongside chicken but here now baked on. The other two were having lamb. Good lamb but, like the falafel, a little overcooked for perfection. There was a new chilli sauce served – fruity and with a little less of a kick but no less tasty. And perfectly cooked mixed rice and vermicelli.

Petra is unlicensed but does permit you to bring your own, for which they make a nominal £1 corkage charge. We’d stuck to a couple of soft drinks, mint tea and Arabic coffee. Bill was still under sixty quid.


John Hartley

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PUNJAB TANDOORI, RUSHOLME

Rusholme’s “Curry Mile” has changed over the years. For one, it’s only in comparatively recent years that it’s been known as the Curry Mile. For another, the whole feel of the area has changed. One thing hasn’t changed – it’s never been a mile. Perhaps half that but still, allegedly, with Europe’s greatest concentration of Indian restaurants. Oh, another thing – it’s still very tacky with the bright lights of the restaurants and the even brighter lights from the gold bangle shops.

I’m long enough in the tooth to remember that the only time you visited was after the pub closing time with a good few pints inside of you. As Indian food became more popular, it became a place to go for dinner for the more adventurous eater. Now, with a curry house in every neighbourhood, Rusholme is reinventing itself. The new restaurants are middle eastern once again bringing a different cuisine to Manchester diners. And it’s no longer just Anglos sitting in the restaurants and ambling along Wilmslow Road deciding where to eat. In fact, Anglos are now very much in a minority.

So, whilst some things have changed about the food, others havn’t. The Indian restaurants still serve their generic “any protein with any sauce” gloop and, whilst folk may claim that they favour one place above another, there is really nothing to choose about the food. Same menu, same gloop, same threadbare carpets leading to the bogs.

Except for the Punjab Tandoori. In spite of its north Indian name, until very recently it was the only place for miles around where you could get some south Indian dishes. Dishes like dosas and bhel puri. And a selection of vegetarian main courses that went well beyond “mixed vegetables rogan josh”. So, that’s why we ate there again instead of going to Jaffa, Beirut or one of the other middle easterners.

Knowing the size of the thing, we ordered one masala dosa to share between the two of us. Enormous. Lovely crisp pancake. Well spiced potato filling. A little dish of coconut chutney to soften. A much pokier sambar to perk it up.

It seems to be my current lot in life to eat in restaurants where there are inordinate delays between courses and the Punjab was no exception. Inexplicable as we know that much of Indian cooking at this level is already pretty much cooked and just needs warming through. What need warming through for us was aloo gobi – big chunks of potato and cauliflower, perhaps a little underseasoned, underspiced and underwhelming. Better was a dahl makhani, perhaps almost the classic Punjabi dish – a rich cream sauce, lentils just nicely al dente, good chilli kick.

We had it with some rice and a missi roti. This was a new bread for us – like a standard roti but with garam masala, turmeric, garlic and a heavy hit from fenugreek added to the dough. Crisp, properly scorched round the edges, simply delicious.

And then we went for a wander along the road. I love the Curry Mile. Even after all these years. And we spotted a new Afghani place. And a Yemeni. Now they’ve gotta be worth a punt.


John Hartley

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I see from its website that South Manchester's "faded star", the Moss Nook, is to close in the near future, with the retirement of the Harrisons.

In the 1980's, it was the dog's danglies of places to go for the celebration birthday or anniversary meal. But, when we last there, a year or so back, it seemed horribly dated. I was pushing 60 on that visit and felt like a spring chicken in comparision with the rest of customers.Gob-smackingly, it still retains a Good Food Guide score of 3 (which I rather think reflects also on how erratically the GFG scores places in this neck of the woods)

Wont be missed by me at least in its present guise. Hopefully new owners can breath some life into the twitching body.


John Hartley

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RHUBARB, BURTON ROAD, WEST DIDSBURY

Oh, yes, we got a good ‘un tonight. Firstly because we had a really nice time. And, second, because their “early doors” menu runs till 9.30 on Sunday and Monday nights. So, three courses of items lifted from their carte for a bargain £15.95. And not pared down in quantity either. West Didsbury’s a bit of foody area – there are several places within a couple of hundred yards where I’m more than happy to eat – Greens, Azzurro, Lime Tree and so on. Rhubarb has been here some years – my partner has eaten there a couple of times but it was my first time.

A choice of four things at each course – all straightforward bistro affairs. Modern European, if you will, with a little nod towards Italy running through some of the offerings. Good bread – a garlic foccacia – to kick off. A simple tomato soup – fresh tasting from ripe tomatoes, drizzled with a little truffle oil - was the better of the two starters. My own, a fillet of smoked haddock sat on shredded fennel, surrounded by orange segments. I could see what the chef was getting at – haddock/fennel works; fennel/orange works – but I wasn’t so keen on haddock/orange.

For mains, we both went with rump steak. A generous 10oz portion, cooked bang-on as requested, topped with a little maite d' butter. A few green beans. And the finest restaurant chips we can recall in a long, long, time – potatoey, crispy, lovely. Worth the trip just for the chips - trust me on this one.

Whereas my starter had perhaps too much citrus, the opposite was true with dessert. A lemon polenta cake was lightness itself. Really good. But where was the lemon? A quenelle of mascarpone and a scattering of pecans worked well for taste and texture.

Opposite, cheese was being scoffed. A pick of three from their menu of about eight. All clearly well kept and, thanks upon thanks, not fridge cold. Appleby’s smoked Cheshire, a tangy Butler’s Cheddar, and a creamy blue Perl Las. Served with biscuits and what we reckon must have been homemade chutney.

Service from the two young women was very Didsbury. Chatty, a bit studenty, but well done. Good selection of well priced wines by the glass.

We’re going to be regulars – on Sunday and Mondays.


Edited by Harters (log)

John Hartley

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SEVEN SPICES, CHEADLE HULME

We’re not that well endowed with decent South Asian restaurants in North Cheshire – places with a “proper” menu and not serving up the “any protein with any sauce” of your standard high street curry house. There’s Dilli in Altrincham, there’s Sindhoor in Burnage, there’s Seven Spices and there’s.......well, that’s really about it.

And even here, the meal was very much a game of two halves.

There were some nice mini-pappads to start, with three decent chutneys – thinnish mango which managed not to be the lurid colours of the curryhouse, a soft yoghurt one and pokey one of mint, chilli & lime. Liked the last one a lot.

Aloo papri chaat was a good follow-on. A nice mix of chickpea, potato, onion and crisp pastry dressed with a very zingy yoghurt and tamarind sauce. Perhaps a bit oversauced and a bit too wet – but it was well seasoned.

Aloo tikki was the restaurant’s take on potato croquette, with the addition of the odd pea. It was just bland and very underwhelming and was barely lifted by a mint and tamarind sauce.

Distinctly not bland was a special of Rajasthani lamb. I asked what it was and was told that it was like a standard rogan josh but hotter due to the use of roasted red chillis. OK, so having been warned about the heat, it is probably churlish to comment that it was too hot. But it was. There was none of the fragrance and rounded spicing of a well made rogan josh. This was raw chilli heat – the sort that caught at the back of your throat. It could have been so much better and it should have been so much better. Such a shame.

There were much better goings-on on the other side of the table. Gosht Do Piaza brought the same tender lamb as my dish but, also, a cleverer, more subtle use of spicing and, in particular, chilli. Yes, of course, there was heat in there, but it wasn’t dominating the sauce’s masala.

For carbs, a generous bowl of perfectly cooked fluffy basmati rice and a similarly bang-on tandoori roti, charred round the edges but not so much that it snapped.

Service is attentive and smiley. The room is decorated and furnished in a modern style and there's table linen and a decent wine list. So efforts are certainly made here. It’s only just up the road, so we’ll obviously be back but must remember to choose more wisely next time.


John Hartley

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My neck of the woods...

Interesting one about Persian Grill there is one in Stockport called Rayhoon, St. Petersgate, Stockport I've had a few bits but I mainly go for the Hummus, but Lamb is of a good enough quality. Had a little hiccup last time I went but full marks for Service. I generally eat with vegetarians thankfully my brother already had decided to double up on Falafel(Starter), but 2 no shows for the other Main course. Thankfully the other vegetarian is really a pescatarian so all ended up good. They even removed the salmon main course and both owners(Chef and front of house) couldn't of been more apologetic. Again not really a must go to, but a good cheapish night, with a nice relaxed ambience, (even a bit of live music on main nights) for a posh kebab is how I think of it.

The one possibly missing for me would be Damson, Heaton Moor got to say it's up there for me a little expensive but having eaten at Ramsons very recently and tbh thoroughly enjoyed it. With some fantastic recommendations for wines to go along side a vegetarian and meat 10 course taster menu. I felt Damson pipped it for food it just had a little more yummy to it. It had it's flaws and was still quite expensive, not to mention wine recommendation was non-existent leaving the unknowledgable(Me) to try and get something to fit a vegetarian and meat meals respectively. So I reckon a review here would be very worthy.

As for Asian cuisine you've certainly given me some more new ones to try I keep trying but yet to find one that is exceptional, but then I think I'm perhaps comparing too highly having eaten at Prashad, Bradford, and Maharaja, Liverpool recent'ish. So hopefully one of these you've mentioned will tickle my fancy. I have to say Mughli, Rusholme is the one that has one favour at the moment having had a few good meals and some sound recommendations for dish choices.


Perfection cant be reached, but it can be strived for!

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Much as I'd love to hope otherwise, there simply isnt anywhere I know in the metro area that's even close to the quality of Prashad.

Good call on Damson. It's a while since I've been.

Damson link

Have you tried Steve Pilling's pub in High Lane? I keep thinking of popping there for lunch but always sem to get deflected.


John Hartley

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Not tried it now that could be well worth a try(Now will I be let down by the corn beef hash or do we have a recommendation), I was tempted by a meal out tonight though ruined my plans slightly. I was quite intrigued by Punjab Tandoori as generally if eating Indian with my brother I'd rather choice over one, so as he won't eat meat I have to give it up.

As for as good as Prashad I have to say if you're in Liverpool that is well worth going to, not really comparable. As where as I thought of Prashad as really, really good street fare(Not that I've ever been to India) Mahajara left me spinning(Chicken Butter fry absolutely divine, Beet Cheera Pachadi(Spinach and Beetroot, I still think about the flavours)) if I could only think of another reason to go to Liverpool.. But alas I'm now derailing the South Manchester Thread... But just in case Maharaja


Perfection cant be reached, but it can be strived for!

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LOTUS, NORTHENDEN

We’d gone to Northenden intending to eat at Persian restaurant, Shiraz, only to find it shut, perhaps permanently.

So, it was on to Plan B. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of fusion cuisine but, at least, Lotus keeps the two strands of its menu separate. So, a full Malaysian menu on the first couple of pages, followed by a couple of South Indian. We stuck with the latter and will return to try the Malaysian side of things in a few weeks.

Mutton chukka is a Tamil dish. Almost dry with curry leaves very present and a powerful chilli kick. This was certainly a wake-up starter. Truth be told, it was a bit chewy although whether this was because it was mutton or because it needed longer cooking, I’m not sure (although my bet is on the latter).

Chilli and curry leaf, along with coriander, formed the major flavourings of the first of my partner’s starters. Methu vadai were a couple of well fried, erm, doughnuts. These were really lovely and were, perhaps, the best thing either of us ate. Alongside, a little bowl of a coconut sambar and another of sweet chilli sauce.

Her second starter filled most of the table. Served on a large stainless compartmentalised platter (that’s probably used elsewhere for thali type meals), there were four steamed idli. We’d not had these before and wouldn’t necessarily be in rush to order them again. Apparently, rice and lentils are ground to a paste and left for several hours, by which time the mixture ferments and sets somewhat. The steaming turns it into a soft ball of bland gloop. Yes, I know I’m not selling this to you but it wasn’t as bad as it reads. What perks things up considerably are the four chutneys provided for dipping – coriander, a spicy tomato, tamarind and the coconut sambar.

This was followed by a masala dosa. Not the finest ever experienced. A well flavoured filling of potato which still had some texture but the dosa itself was soggy in parts.

My own main, the Tamil classic of chicken chettinad was also OK. Offered the option of having it medium or spicy, I’d gone for spicy and was glad I had as the thin sauce remained restrained in use of spices and, in particular, of chilli.

We did have some issues with service. My starter had to be chased up, for example. There was a gap between each main course arriving and then a further gap before rice appeared. It was almost as if whoever was cooking wasn’t really experienced in the restaurant business.


John Hartley

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Red Lion, High Lane So did go mmm not sure had a quite reasonable refurb will it really be a Robinson flagship first impression is it is well and truly in the wrong location. Well first lets get the ahhh's! out, first why oh why do people keeping persisting with these micro leaves when they offer nothing to the dish then my other one I'm really getting a bit of tired of brown boutique chic.

So went have to say a good pint of Guinness, on to the food not sure what to say but part of me thinks I'd of enjoyed my money spent better in curry mile. So ate from both al a carte and tdh, I had goat cheese fritters, beetroot, Asian pear and walnuts. With so much acidity from the pear, beetroot not sure what the vinaigrette offered. Also a little greasy also seemed a waste of a good goats cheese not really sure which one but it was a small log. As for the micro watercress this offered nothing to the dish and even clashed slightly. My brother had creamed mushrooms on toasted sour dough this time of year always seems a shame when you don't see chanterelles nothing really to say nothing really to go wrong can't say I tasted them as I already expected what they'd taste like.

Onto main course well did have corn beef hash and crikey what protein overdose not sure what to say here I suspect it is as the chophouses(Does Pilling still run them). Just for me I expect some potato and veg but I suspect I'm in the minority and most want beef eggs and bacon, so I suspect I've not quite killed the vegetarian in me yet. My brother had macaroni gratin, cauliflower polonaise, and something tomato nothing to comment really it is what it is though I did suspect de cecco macaroni(Always a win in my book). One bonus the bread was pretty damn good. Didn't get to desserts.

Left really unsure I suspect the fans of the chophouses will be happy, as for will I be back have to say maybe for Sunday lunch not often you see a roast rib. Just came away with I'd of enjoyed it more for less and the adding of a 10% gratuity is a pet hate of me not to mention a loss for the servers as I rarely tip less than £10(probably closer to £15) under £100.


Perfection cant be reached, but it can be strived for!

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