When looking for an Indian meal in Manchester, you’re hardly short of choice, so restaurants across the city are really having to step up their game to stay front of mind for a slap up curry.
Zouk Tea Bar & Grill opened back in 2009 in the city centre, just off Oxford Road and minutes away from the palace Theatre to bring Indian and Pakistani cooking to the centre of town. But it’s not just your average curry, with a number of options from delicious street food to hearty roasts available to diners, as well as an extensive cocktail menu to enjoy on the terrace which was redeveloped last year to create a lounge style environment.
On a busy Saturday night, the restaurant & the staff are welcoming, with a mix of guests including students, big groups, couples and families, spread across both the outdoor terrace and indoor restaurant. On a sunny evening, the terrace was packed with people enjoying a variety of flavoured shishas in the late evening sun. The tea bar & grill seems to be as much a venue for Saturday cocktails, as it is for dinner, as guests ordered from the extensive cocktail menu at the bar inside.
We opted for the Indian Party, a mixture of Gin & Chambord muddled, cucumber and lemon before being topped with prosecco, & the Raspberry Tom Collins made using Bombay Sapphire & Fresh Raspberries. Both cocktails were made with fresh ingredients and presented carefully, with the delicate cucumber adding a really refreshing undertone to the Indian Party.
While we looked through Zouk’s food menu, our waiter guided us through the specials menu for the evening, which featured additional starters and main courses available that day. The chef’s specials change each month, allowing new and returning customers to try something different each time they visit the restaurant, while ensuring that existing customers never become bored with the offering.
The Zouk menu focuses on authentic cuisine, with individual dishes to showcase their unique style rather than traditional customer favourites you’d expect to see on an indian menu. There were options for traditional curries including Karahis, Handis, and Biryanis, as well as burgers, steaks and special roasts, where a party could choose to order a whole roast chicken or leg of lamb.
We chose one of the chefs specials for the evening, the Star Anise Chicken Kebabs as well as a Samosa Chaat to start, followed by a Chicken Karahi & Chicken Khabani. While we waited, our waiter brought us a basket of fresh poppadoms served with tangy mango chutney, onions and a green chilli and coriander dip, which were all made fresh on site.
The starters arrived quickly, the firm favourite being the succulent char-grilled chicken pieces marinated in a thick paste of spices including ground cashews & star anise. The samosa chaat a close second, a traditional Pakistani chaat with hot, fresh samosa topped with chickpeas, tamarind sauce & raita.
Soon after, the curries arrived with a generous portion of pilau rice as well as a buttery garlic and coriander naan. Our waiter had asked how spicy we liked our food, so we were excited to see both the Karahi and Khabani arrive with extra green chillies topping the dishes (yes, they look the same!). Both the curries were served in generous portions, with the sweet yet hot Khabani served with apricots being the more popular of the two. Both curries were served in hearty portions, with some still left over at the end, even after eating so much we felt we needed to be rolled home.
Overall, the meal was really enjoyable, the staff helpful and with the additional offering of outdoor lounge terrace, shisha bar, and cocktail menu, makes Zouk a firm favourite for a Saturday night curry.
Zouk Tea Bar and Grill, The Quadrangle, Chester Street M1 5QS