Tag Archives: Mughli

Evelyn’s Cafe Bar – Manchester

“I love the Northern Quarter bars in Manchester. Don’t get to them often enough. Evelyn’s Cafe Bar pushes the food boundaries a little further with a varied and flavourful menu”

Finally decide to make the effort. Its 5.30 another office shift complete. I trudged through torrential rain to meet my younger ‘bruv’ Chris. Evelyn’s boasts an understated frontage. Its several minutes of frantic texting before said relative shuffles up the stairs to doff his cap and shed his protective shell. The standard NQ, uppercase, terracotta signage and light door manifestation is all that stands between the public and the delights within.

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Still once in it’s a fine space. Only a handful of punters were in, and we settled for a naturally lit table near the window. I perched on a trendy grey sofa looking outwards to survey the scene. Quality light oak tables, each sporting natty chequered napkins in readiness. The ‘de riguer ‘ Northern Quarter exposed brick and bare metal lighting brackets are all in place. Its smart enough, great for a casual dine. The space is dominated by the sky blue exposed kitchen which juts into frame.

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We both settled in to a small bottle of Runaway pale ale (thick end of a fiver) and run through the grey on white menu. It’s an eclectic mix of small plates, sandwiches, large plates all laced with spice, herbs, pulses, grains and beans. Chris points out that his other half would love here as she is a ‘veggie’.

The prices are all prescribed in ‘pointage’ terms. Everything is something point 5 or point 9. We assume they are in pounds!

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We select the smashed avocado with pickled chilli and crackers (£4) and Korean chicken with roasted chilli (£6.50) to start. By hokey the chicken had a kick! A lime dressing tried to keep the flames down, but not much. The ratio of crumb to chicken was a bit higher than I would have liked but all in all, a decent start. 

For mains I went for the crab and shrimp burger with basil aioli, chilli, fennel and chips (£14). I was swayed by the word crab, always a tempter for me. In truth I probably played a bit too safe. The ‘burger’ was basically a deep fried crab and shrimp paste patty. Very nice, decent chips but perhaps not what I had in mind. Our kid was far more adventurous and went for seared mackerel with chilli, mint, vegetables and black rice (£14.50). The mackerel was nicely charred, the black rice a revelation and all set over a pleasant slick of green mint sauce. I think he won that one.

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Smashed avocado, korean chicken, mackerel, crab & prawn burger 

I won dessert though! Get this, a lime, avocado and honey cheesecake (£5.90 or 5.9). Set on a flap jack base it was an acquired taste, but nevertheless a taste that I did acquire by about the third fork full. Sprinkled with pistachio it was a fine end. The young relative swayed by figs, went figs, chocolate and rosewater ice cream (5.5). I perhaps should point out my brother is a prodigious talent in the world of wolfing down food. I did manage to taste a small forkful before it quickly went south. Very nice I recall.

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Runaway pale ale, figs, chocolate, rose water ice cream, lime, avocado, honey cheesecake!

All in the bill chipped in at just short of seventy quid or 69.8. Bit hefty for a casual tea, but twenty of that went on the excellent Runaway beers. Evelyn’s is the latest addition to the empire being constructed by the local food entrepreneurs who own the Mughli(s) (reviewed here) and The Railway Cafe in Alderley Edge (reviewed here). All three for me offer a completely unique dining experience. Full of different flavours, some hit, some miss but all beautifully delivered in smart surrounds. Give them all a go.

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Evelyn’s Cafe Bar
G18 — SMITHFIELD BUILDING
TIB ST,
MANCHESTER
M4 1NB
09:00 – 23:00 MON – SUN
HELLO@EVELYNSCAFEBAR.COM
T 0161 834 3303

http://www.evelynscafebar.com

The Railway Cafe and Gin Bar (Mughli) – Alderley Edge

“A salad for Sunday Lunch, are you mad?”

You’re not if it’s a Mughli salad! Mughli is a pretty famous (and rather sensational) Indian Restaurant based on the curry mile in Rusholme (see review here). However, they are starting to spread out a bit. A smart place in Knutsford has been around for some time now and something is due in The Northern Quarter Manchester later in the year. Squeezed in between is this little ‘pop up’ restaurant in Alderley Edge. It was only meant to last 12 weeks last year, but it seems to have grown legs and extended itself. Good job really or else I would have missed it!

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Shop front, Gin making facilities

The Flame reluctantly agreed to the visit so long as a romp onto The Edge itself was involved. She doesn’t really like Indian food. I ventured it’s not really Indian and she would like it! We stepped in off the street. It is basically a converted shop.

Inside the simple shop front bearing a simple, smart graphic is a simple kit out. Old apple boxes form the shelving behind the bar. Basic tables and chairs abound with industrial stooling at the bar. A chilled soundtrack wafts through the bijou space. Natural light streams in from the street onto the touch down benching at the front. It reminds me a little bit of Levanter Foods in Ramsbottom (see here) in terms of feel and space.

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Unlike Levanter there are a few outdoor tables and chairs to allow for the alfresco experience. Sadly it was a little bit cool for that when we were there. Also sadly, there weren’t many people in. Two at the front, two at the bar and that was it. To be fair I don’t think many were about in Alderley Edge full stop. The trendy bars at the posh end of town seemed a little bereft of folk as well.

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Undeterred we settled in. Our two young, enthusiastic  waitresses keeping us up to speed with developments. A rather palatable pale ale from Runaway Beers had me settled in no time. As with the standard Mughli, it’s a simple, plain white, single sided menu to choose from. Brilliant. Starters, nibbles, brunch, large plates and desserts all catered for. The Flame struggled a bit whilst I was struggling to keep my choice down to an amount that I could be cooked in time! I could have stuck a pin in blindfold.

I went for a few small plates whilst the Flame went for the salad. I say salad. It was a beetroot and avocado salad with garlic toasts and a cumin yoghurt dip (£8.50). It came stacked over the sliced beetroot with various drizzles. When pushed over it filled the plate with a glorious, fresh taste. My fork full came blessed with chilli and fresh coriander. An absolute delight. She had a side of gunpowder chips (£4.00), which came dusted in spice. Wonderful.

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Gunpowder Chips

I had chickpea fritters with chilli and coriander dip (£4.50). They came arranged like a ‘janga’ game. Stacked like sleepers. Looked good actually and tasted good with the dip. Loved them. I also went for the popcorn shrimp with a lime citrus dip (bit pricey at £8.50 perhaps?). Quite a big portion, but tasted fantastic. I preferred it with the aioli dip that came with the chips. I also had the special of the day, lamb chops with pickled onion (£6.50). Two charred but succulent chops. Very nice.

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Chops, Chickpea Fritters, Popcorn shrimp

I rounded off with a teeth ‘scratchingly’ sweet Mumbai Mess (£5.95). I should add that very sweet is good for me! It was basically an Eton Mess using a sensation, vanilla Chantilly cream. A brilliant but filling end.

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Beetroot and avocado salad, Mumbai mess

We both proclaimed we’d had a cracking Sunday lunch. Full of flavour and excitement. It came in at a weighty £47. The Flame was converted. Maybe I can get her to try the real Mughli? Watch this space……..

The Railway Café and Gin Bar
7 London Rd,
Alderley Edge SK9
01625 865865

http://www.alderleyginbar.com

Top Ten Dishes of 2014

Not wishing to miss out on a shameless plug for the Cook Twit blog and a chance to rehash some of my earlier work with minimal effort, I thought I’d jump full square on to the food bloggers best of 2014 bandwagon. 2014 has been a great year for grub. Though thanks to the fast diet I’m 6lbs lighter!

As one mate says to me “Do you ever have a crap meal”. Well generally because I go to places that other foodies on twitter have recommended, the answer is No. So I should add if there are places not mentioned below who know I’ve visited them. It is no slight, it is merely the fact that these had a slight, undefinable edge. There are thousands of dishes at number 11 !

Its my view that a quality dish chimes when several factors gel. Apart from the obvious ones, flavour, ingredients, skill of the chef, I reckon the circumstances around the meal play a big part. Degree of ‘hungriness’, atmosphere, who you are with, mood, expectation, service and a whole host of ‘soft’ issues. With this in mind you may find some of my choices a little surprising. But here goes in no particular order.

10) I love fish and chips. the best I had this year was sat on my own in the sunshine in Albert Square Manchester. It was served in a cardboard tray by The Hip Hop Chip Shop as part of the Manchester Food Festival. Simply superb with lovely skin on chips and chillied onion ring. But a special mention should go to The Elephant 1934 and the Arnside chippy who both came a close second.

Great fish and chips
Great fish and chips

9) I love seafood and pasta. I had no better of both at Salvis in Manchester. Seafood tagliatelle. Stunning.

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8) I love brunch. Seems to have become very popular this year. I had no finer than at Beef and Pudding. A vast helping for £9.95. The Flames Egg Benedict equally good.

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7) I have a raging sweet tooth. Always save my second sweet stomach for afters! Had an amazing marmalade and ginger cheesecake, served in a kilner jar whilst sat by the Thames in London on a glorious summers eve. The Tied End Cottage Pub, Teddington. Incredible. The warm peach tart at The Assheton Arms deserves a mention though.

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6) Love my ‘dirty’ street food. Mumma Schnitzel set up an obligatory Citroen H van in Spinningfields, Manchester (sadly now departed) and served up the finest chicken schnitzels known to man. A standard Friday lunch treat. Even better the ‘specials’. My favourite the ‘Hanoi Hanoi’. Thai flavours mingled in with a kick.

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5) On a similar theme, Twitter had served up frightening images of the Solita Christmas Burger. I was hooked. All expectations were met (apart from the candied chipolata on top). Christmas dinner in a bun.

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4) Love a pie,  I regularly buy Great North Pie Co versions, but had a couple of beauties outside this year. After a six hour drive and starving, I think The Church Green, Lymm, chicken and root veg just shades The Roebucks mutton pie. Nags Head did an amazing chicken leg and ham one too.

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3) Went to Mughli on the curry mile in Rusholme, Manchester for the first time this year. Had their signature seafood biryani. Superb.

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2) Went to Sicily this year for the hols. Fish is big there. Had a great big dorado served on a platter with potatoes, veg and gravy at ‘La Grotta Azzurra’ in Toamina. Served at the table. Awesome.

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1) Anything at The Pig On The Beach Hotel. Went for a week for our 25th wedding anniversary. All ingredients grown or caught within a couple of miles. I had a slab of turbot caught that morning. Chef told me in the day that it was coming. It doesn’t get fresher than that.

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So there you have it, the top ten. Like I said though, there are hundreds of number elevens. Well done chefs a great year. Lets see what we can have in 2015.

Amans Indian – Newton-le-Willows

“Probably the best Indian Restaurant in Newton!”

Like most provincial communities, my home town of Newton-le-Willows has succumbed to the rising influence of the great British curry. A veritable phalanx of spicy food emporiums have come and gone. That said a good number have been here a good while now. “The Fort of India”, “Balti Towers”, “Shajahan”, “Belash” to name but a few, have seemingly found a niche in the local gastronomic scene. However, theres a new kid in town, ‘Amans’ has rooted a dark almost satanic frontage smack bang in the middle of (a faintly resurgent) Newton High Street.

The Black frontage
The Black frontage

It has an even more imposing gaff a few miles away down the East Lancs at Astley. On that occasion the old “Queens Arms” succumbed, at Newton it was merely a solicitor that went pop! (I think!). Amans it seems is taking over the North West with Congleton, Lowton and Bramhall either fallen or next in line.

So what’s it like? It’s pretty good really. I could stop there but I won’t (groan – Ed). I feel I should set this review in context. Owing to The flames virtual intolerance of Indian food it is very rare The Cooktwit gets to indulge in the fruits of Indian cuisine. That said, out with the boys a few months back I had a glorious meal at Mughli on the curry mile in Manchester which was sensational and is reviewed here on the blog, Amans has a tough benchmark to match.

As I have mentioned black is the main colour, helped along by a purple neon edge. Long gone are the mismatched tables and paper tablecloths. New Indian restaurants nowadays endeavour to ooze sophistication. Amans is no different. As it’s new it is smart. A purple backed, fret cut, wall matrix serving as the feature backdrop. A bizarre wall of plaster ceiling roses forming the way up the stairs to the upper floor and the loos.

The neon purpleage matrix, smart outside and in.
The neon purpleage matrix, smart outside and in.

Believe it or not The Flame was here on this occasion. Along with six others we were celebrating the flight of leading nephew Ben as he bolts off to China on a teaching shindig. A ‘swifty’ in the Pied Bull across the road meant at least one decent pint could be had before I had to have Kingfisher! As is the norm in most Indian restaurants, Amans present us with a luxurious, metallic, golden tome. It takes hours to get through. In my eyes it presents the first negative comparison with Mughli. Their entire menu is presented on the side of one card. It is the work of a moment to select your meal.

With the miriad of dishes and sauces on offer I am reminded of the TV programme ‘The Restaurant Man’. If you are not familiar, the premise being that a handsome cove, well versed in what makes a successful foodie joint work, trots round to would be owners and tells them where it’s all going wrong. One episode featured some good natured Asian ladies who had the laudable idea of cooking and selling real Indian food, just as their grandma had taught them. The snag had been how they could create their wonderful dishes to the scale they needed to make some cash. A head chef was hired. He immediately purchased a huge vat and an industrial ‘whizzer’ in order to create huge quantities of the ‘base’ sauce. Every dish would therefore start off as this but then have a little something extra added just prior to service to create a ‘different’ dish. It was incredibly off putting for me. Im not saying Amans do this but I sense many Indian restaurants do this in order to service these vast offerings.

The menu and its golden book
The menu and its golden book

 

I digress though. In order to make sure my experience of Amans is not tainted, the flame and I opt from the non standard half of the menu. It makes a pleasing change. I go for ‘Tahori Fish’ to start, pieces of seabass in a light batter (£4.95). Two pieces of beautifully cooked fish, marred slightly by the appalling effort of a garnish. Why restaurants think we diners appreciate scrags of limp lettuce, a shred of onion and an olive is beyond me, but it seems to be ‘de rigeur’ in some places. The flame trooped home in first place with some stunning pieces of chicken. Called ‘MalayTikka’ (£4.25) Tender pieces of chicken marinated with mayonnaise, ground almond, ground spices and natural yoghurt. I managed a morsel and have to say it was superb and moist. The salad was from the same pot as mine! Sadly I didn’t manage to get a pic as she had wolfed it in no time.

The Flames fish, Chops and sea bass
The Flames fish, Chops and sea bass

For mains we again went off beam and came up trumps. The flame probably won again ‘Pangash Biraan’ (£10.25) described as white fish fillet marinated with medium spices and lightly pan fried, served with sauteed onions, red and green peppers, spring onion and garnished with lemon and coriander. The fish was superb, beautifully cooked with a light spicy, seasoned coat. The flame had to shove the mound of onions off to one side (there was no peppers or spring onion garnish) but other than she said she would come again just for this. Can’t say fairer than that. The same scraggy garnish made it to the plate! I went for a ‘Lamb Chop Balti’ (a slightly whopping £11.45, but boy this was good. Five, tender chops wonderfully cooked in a rich tasty sauce. They were very pleasant. I left a mound of dry bones and mopped up the sauce with some boiled rice and a chapati. The desserts on offer were the usual freezer based ice creams, no ‘Rasmalai’ I’m afraid. At least the well turned out waiters laughed when I asked for it!

Purple, more fish and chop bones
Purple, more fish and chop bones

I’d have to say we all enjoyed it. The place was packed out. The service was efficient and friendly, giving us just the right amount of gap between courses. We certainly weren’t rushed. As a standard Indian restaurant it was very good. A few Indian pale ales wouldn’t go amiss to top up the Kingfisher and the cans of ‘Tetley Smooth!’

If you’re in Newton le Willows and want an Indian you really couldn’t beat it. It is probably the best Indian in Newton! But, if you want to try something a little different and have the time I would see if Mughli have a table and get the next train to Oxford Road, then a £5 taxi to Rusholme. Explore the simple menu and enjoy. It cost us £50 a couple at Amans. I reckon you wouldn’t spend much more going down the curry mile. A welcome addition to Newton though. We will go back (if they let me!).

Amans Indian Restaurant

61 High Street

Newton-le-Willows

Merseyside

WA12 9SL

T 01925 292677

amansindian.co.uk

Mughli – Indian Restaurant Manchester

Not usually a big fan of Indian food. Yes, as a teenage beer engine I crashed into them after the pub for a quick rogan josh with my mates, but for a serious sit down meal Indian has never really been first choice, especially when dining with the flame. However, when faced with sorting a gastronomic excursion for long time drinking, grub loving, MUFC fan and recent sexagenarian a decent Indian was a natural choice.

The mesmerising curry mile
The mesmerising curry mile
As ever, when deciding where to go, twitter came to the rescue. Local food bloggers along with lauded tv chef Nigel Slater, have all posted glowing tributes to the work of Mughli, a restaurant of some thirty one years standing, situated in Manchester’s celebrated curry mile. Our heady gang warmed up with a few scoops in the city before the ten minute taxi trek to Rusholme, home to the source of our tea. For those who don’t know ‘the curry mile’ is a neon infested thoroughfare containing dozens of restaurants, bars and food emporiums, all specialising in various strands of Indian cuisine. When we arrived I was mesmerised, I was left drooling at some of the Indian grocery stores lining the streets! Four types of aubergine, greens I’ve never seen or heard of, and all this before we stumbled on the oasis that is Mughli.
Inside Mughli and it's homemade beer
Inside Mughli and it’s homemade beer
Thankfully I had booked weeks ago using the very efficient online booking system. A texted reminder an hour before asking to confirm or decline seemed to me a great idea. As we entered we stumbled into another world. The place was rammed. The chatter and clatter of a full restaurant operating at full tilt and on the top of its game. It was a most welcome and heartening sight. The room is perfectly lit and appointed with contemporary, retro tables and chairs. Various elements of shrubbery divided the space at regular intervals.
A well trimmed youngster set us to our table guided by a high tech tablet! Within seconds our jolly and knowledgeable waiter Amjad was circling. He quickly pointed out his favourites from the font friendly, black and white menu and tipped us towards a few pints of the local brew. The brew he claimed, is constructed on the floor below by ‘elves’. We took this story as gospel and ordered up pronto.
As expected the starters rocked up first. The celebrant and I selected from the ‘charcoal pit’ section, whilst the third point of the crew opted from the ‘street food’ list. All three starters were a triumph. My fleet of tender, mildly spiced, medium cooked lamb chops had all drooling. The ‘tamarind masala fish’ (chunks of fresh haddock dusted in a spicy batter with lime) was a close second to the star of the starts the King Prawns. The size of a baby’s fist these had been flashed in the pit of charcoal before wafting through a mist of chillied spice. I managed to swap a whole chop for a mere morsel. It was worth it.
Masala fish, lamb chops, biryani, mango kulfi
Masala fish, lamb chops, biryani, mango kulfi
For mains I went for a Mughli speciality ‘Seafood and Fish Dhum Biryani’. This arrived in a good sized dish encased in a thin, battered crust. I broke through to reveal the intoxicating mix of basmati rice, pomegranate seeds and lightly spiced prawns, mussels and fish. It was a little dry at first but the neat little pans of biryani sauce and raita housed on a batten at the side soon sorted that.
The chums picked from the curry section. The choices included ‘arguably Birmingham’s finest export’ the Balti (their words not mine!), however a butter chicken and a fiery ‘chennai’ curry was picked along with rice, roti and a chilli paneer. It was all sublime and heartily confirmed by the slew of empty pots, pans and plates that were left strewn across the table.
All it needed to finish was a slug of traditional ‘ras malai’ and all would be well and the report could be ticked and signed off with a jaunty flourish, but lo, Amjad could not deliver. Despite his many offers of chocolate brownies! the ‘ras malai’ was no where to be seen. We japed for several minutes before the intrepid ‘Bradfordonian’ came up with three lollipops of Mango Kulfi, which to be fair really hit the spot. The Mughli team had pulled it out of the bag right at the death. A fine end to a smashing feed.
Cleared up, Mike & Amjad, the glasses friendly menu
Cleared up, Mike & Amjad, the glasses friendly menu
All I can say is that this has definitely rekindled my desire for Indian food. It was a revelation and met all expectations. For three of us it came to just over £90, for me a bargain. The service, the staff, the food, the beer, the atmosphere was all top notch. Well done Mughli, we’ll be back.
Mughli

30 Wilmslow Road
Rusholme
Manchester, M14 5TQ
telephone 0161 248 0900

http://www.mughli.comopening times
saturday: 3pm – late
monday-friday: 5pm – late

sunday: 1pm – late0161 248 0900