Restaurant Review: Dishoom, Manchester

Dishoom Manchester – A Blast of Bombay

Dishoom Manchester replicated a real sense of Mumbai’s (formerly Bombay) culinary traditions, with it’s brunch ’till evening, informal menu. Furthermore, Dishoom communicated a taste of the city’s historic culture built by the generally fast-paced, hard-working and welcoming people. Restrained British touches such as the East India Gimlet, sat comfortably with the more exotic incense burning on arrival. Mercifully, the restaurant hadn’t imported Mumbai’s death trap toilets, as Dishoom’s were spotless. Since 1949 Mumbai citizens legally require a personal permit to “require foreign liquor and country liquor for preservation and maintenance of my health.” Fortunately, Dishoom Manchester had adopted a more lax British attitude to alcohol consumption.

Dishoom Manchester Restaurant Review Indian Bombay Mumbai Blog Post
Novel menu design at Dishoom

The colonial-inspired Dishoom dining room paid homage to the typically Indian focus on the family. I don’t know if Manchester’s Indian community have much of an opinion either way of the – shall we say  controversial – role the British Empire played in Indian history. Regardless, Dishoom seemed to take pride in this element of Mumbai’s heritage. The main part of the restaurant was the ‘Family Room’ a great many genuine portraits of the owner’s extended ancestors watched over guests with quiet approval. Unlike 90% of Manchester’s Indian restaurants, Dishoom refreshingly employees not only white people but wait for it, women too. Regardless, our young male Mancunian server of Indian heritage was excellent, proving  to be enthusiastic, knowledgeable and prompt.

Shortly after the tipples were served, a few vibrant freshly made dips were provided before the food steam-rolled through. The Keema Pau was incredible, a memorable dish, defying expectations. It looked like two ordinary looking buns next to dish of mud. Doesn’t sound appetising, but this description betrayed the buttery, spicy, just delicious impact that followed. The Chilli Chicken was ideally spiced, tender as expected, but the batter wasn’t for me. Too reminiscent of a takeaway…a Chinese takeaway. Having had my mind blown by the Keema Pau I was expecting fireworks from the Chilli Cheese Toast. It was simply that, chilli and cheese on toast. All fine, but something I’d sooner make at home in my pyjamas than bother putting pants on and leaving the house for. Don’t get me wrong, I still wolfed it down.

Dishoom Manchester Restaurant Review Bombay Indian Irani Cafe Curry
Amazing Keema pau at Dishoom Manchester
Dishoom Manchester Restaurant Review Bombay Indian Irani Cafe Curry
Chilli Chicken – bit too takeaway like
Dishoom Manchester Restaurant Review Bombay Indian Irani Cafe Curry
Comforting Chilli Cheese Toast

Dishoom prides itself on their Biryani, and I saw why. Perfectly formed soft rice hid generous pieces of silky lamb. It was a dish that felt humble and comforting, yet luxurious at the same time. Only free-range lamb is sourced, and it shows. I rarely eat lamb, let alone twice in one meal, but it was seemingly something of a Dishoom speciality. Considering the cost of meat and food in general has rocketed, I thought it reasonably priced. That’s not to say Dishoom Manchester was a restaurant only good at slow-cooking stuff. Dishoom’s lightly cooked Basa Fillets were gently marinated with yogurt, careful charred, and delicately spice. The fish was pleasingly fresh and sustainable sourced; although, would have been better served before rather than after the heavier dishes.

Dishoom Manchester Restaurant Review Bombay Indian Irani Cafe Curry
Lamb Biryani, a Dishoom speciality
Dishoom Manchester Restaurant Review Bombay Indian Irani Cafe Curry
Marinaded Basa

Peppermint Tea was required and enjoyed, but this was upstaged by my best Chai Latte to date, something I’d strongly suggest to enjoy. The young server spoke with pride of the Chai mixture was brewed every morning. I asked him for the recipe, but I lost track after the fifteenth ingredient he reeled of. On another occasion, I’ll try the epic sounding Viceroy Old Fashioned, with bourbon, bay leaf and green tea.

Dishoom Manchester Wine Prices

An Indian restaurant is usually the last place I’d go for a glass of wine, but Dishoom Manchester had a surprisingly good bar, even if the wine glasses were naff. Decent enough red and white wines were promptly served, and did a good job of standing up to the different flavours that laid ahead. At the time of writing, the cheapest bottle of wine at Dishoom Manchester, excluding service charge, was a 2017 French Merlot/Grenache blend by Roc d’Opale at £23.50. Conversely, the most expensive bottle of wine, excluding service charge, was a Non Vintage Gosset Grande Reserve Champagne at £95.

Dishoom Restaurant Review Score

Manchester has lots of curry options; but for me, Dishoom is one of the better ones due to its focused menu, welcoming atmosphere, smart interior and authentic dishes.

Atmosphere 10  Cost 8  Quality 8  Service 10

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Other Restaurant Reviews
of Dishoom Manchester

Manchester Evening News: “It’s the sort of deeply nourishing comfort food they should prescribe on the NHS.”
Eat and Two Veg: “…this isn’t just another cookie clutter ‘industrial chic’ room with exposed brickwork and minimal lighting.”

Restaurant Review: Brasserie Blanc, Beaconsfield

Brasserie Blanc – Fine French Flavours

I am a massive fan of Raymond Blanc. He begins speaking English with perfection diction, only for his elocution to decline into the utterly incomprehensible. Most know he’s a two Michelin Star chef, but the fact he guided Heston Blumenthal and Marco Pierre White is less well known. When Jay Rayner visited Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, he advised the meal was fabulous, but the cost unjustifiable. Brasserie Blanc provided a respectable job of French Cuisine at a fraction of the cost – worth keeping in mind if your salary is shorter than your phone number.

Brasserie Blanc Beaconsfield began with The Mediterranean Fish Soup, the best fish soup I’d ever slurped – the perfect summery starter. Tasting of the sea, with luxurious saffron bravely avoiding domination by the heavy-hitting garlic. The Bouillabaisse Sea Bream was perfectly cooked and seasoned – a beautiful piece of bright white succulent fish with delicious crispy skin. Unfortunately, the supporting squid and artichoke fought a losing battle against further piles of garlic. Another highlight was the mouth watering Duck Leg Confit, providing incredible depth of flavour with skin that satisfyingly crackled when cut. However, the undercooked lardons were unnecessary, especially when accompanying chorizo. For dessert, Chocolate Soufflé looked magnificent with a beautiful texture, but didn’t pack a particularly prominent chocolaty punch.

Regarding atmosphere, Brasserie Blanc Beaconsfield was teaming with punters creating a real buzz. The interior was tastefully designed and thoughtfully laid out. Although sitting by the side entrance created a rather uncomfortable draft.

Brasserie Blanc Beaconsfield operated at full capacity, thus service was understandably sluggish. However, everyone from the host to the floor staff provided genuine smiles, and worked in a composed manner. Although, when my girlfriend opted for whiskey she was slightly irked by the shocked waiter – when another server was similarly flabbergasted it bordered insulting.

As starters were £7, mains £15 (plus sides) and desserts £6, Brasserie Blanc represented average value for bourgeois Beaconsfield. However, dining from the Early Bird Menu provides outstanding frugality. Why can’t all chain restaurants be like this?

Brasserie Blanc Beaconsfield
Review Summary

Atmosphere 8   Cost 7    Quality 7    Service 8

Brasserie Blanc Beaconsfield Review
Top Notch Soup

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Restaurant Review: Turtle Bay Restaurant & Bar, Preston

Turtle Bay Preston, ft Bob Marley & The Waiters

Turtle Bay Restaurant and Bar, a chain so heavy on the branding I assumed Levi Roots was the MD. Regardless, Turtle Bay is rapidly sprawling across the UK, Preston being the latest venture. Initial impressions were that Turtle Bay Preston brought a much-needed splash of colour to the city centre if nothing else, and any business opening in the wake of this recession was welcome. This might be the chilli sauce talking, but Turtle Bay Preston could be that rare establishment that is family-friendly yet stylish enough to attract late night drinkers. Time will tell, but the early signs were positive.

However, I’m sceptical of themed restaurants that attempt to offer something exotic. They often descend into the painfully ordinary (I’m looking at you Wagamama). The obvious pitfall was the restaurant soundtrack; however, the music at Turtle Bay Preston was spot on. I was expecting to hear ‘Legend’ on repeat, but the mixture of ska, reggae, dancehall and dub, with commercial and lesser known tracks set an upbeat but relaxed tone. It’s a shame it took a national chain like Turtle Bay to be the first and only restaurant (or venue of any kind) in Preston to have a decent Caribbean soundtrack, despite a clear demand for it.

Turtle Bay Preston Caribbean Restaurant & Bar Review
Turtle Bay Preston’s opening night with live music

Anyway, the menu at Turtle Bay Preston offered simple food that was big on flavour. Although a faff to eat, the Babyback Ribs were ridiculously good; so good Frank Underwood might have found a new home. Diners got a whole rack of slow roast and glazed pork ribs with either a BBQ or Jerk Gravy coating. Either way you’ll need forty-five napkins to tackle the job.

Similarly, it’s impossible to eat enough of those fried sweetcorn fritters. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking they’re only suitable for vegetarians. It’s for your own good, eat them. The heavily laden sweet potato fries were as delicious as any I’ve experienced, although a bit soggy. The spices across all the dishes were big, bold and brash – just as they should be. In a moment of snobbishness I lamented every dish was strangely the same colour, but when it’s packed with punchy flavours, it’s entirely forgivable.

A minor point perhaps, but Turtle Bay Preston’s condiment game was on point. Everything got dipped into either Aunt May’s Bajan Pepper Sauce, Encona BBQ or Econa Hot Curry Sauce at some point. The only let down where the overly heavy Dumplings, which really needed the extra sauces. Fun fact, Home Bargains across the road, randomly stock a range of Encona Hot Sauces for a quid. Assuming you like spice, they have the ability to turn literally anything into an at least an average meal; anyway, I digress.

Turtle Bay Preston Restaurant Review
The jam in the background is there because I’m eating at the bar, I’ve not gone insane (don’t ask why it’s behind the bar unless you like Dad jokes).
Turtle Bay Preston Restaurant Review
Heavily loaded sweet potato fries

These ballsy flavours extended to the Turtle Bay Preston Bar, with a cocktail menu dominated by strong rum with too much puree and/or fizzy stuff. A lot of the cocktails were really naff to be fair, the Rude Boy I’d suggest being the best. This potent concoction consisted of Wray & Nephew and Woods 100 overproof rums, falernum and fresh lime. It’s a drink best paired with two grams of Blue Cheese, if you catch my drift – not really a drink, more an invitation for chaos. I just about held myself back from twerking. That said, the Espresso Martinis were surprisingly good for the price.

Turtle Bay Restaurant & Bar Preston Review Rum Cocktails
Arguably too much rum for one night

Turtle Bay Preston is one of the many themed restaurants where the drinks are either too expensive or too cheap, depending what side of Happy Hour you arrive. The Happy Hour times are generous though, and I suspect the cause of a lot of traffic. Ordering from the drinks menu provided fun rather than sophistication, with the high-energy bar staff serving customers thick and fast. Fortunately, Bar Manager Dave is on hand for those with a more discerning palette. Ask him about the spiked home-made ginger beer and you’re in for a treat.

Turtle Bay Restaurant & Bar Preston Review Rum Cocktails
Wray & Nephew….a serial offender

Turtle Bay Preston Review Score

It seemed the only thing missing from the restaurant’s relentless Caribbean branding was having anyone who looked like they’d ever seen the sun, let alone of Caribbean heritage cooking. Regardless, the bar was fun and during happy hour, very good value. Turtle Bay Preston was hot, flavourful, simple…good soul food as intended.

Atmosphere 8  Cost 8  Quality 8  Service 8

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Other Restaurant Reviews of Turtle Bay (Nationwide)

  • Christie’s Lifestyle (Norwich): “Slow Braised Beef Rib also makes a new appearance on the menu and comes served with sweet potato fries and a watermelon salad.”
  • On Magazine (Leeds): “…the duck, also served with rice and peas, has hints of cinnamon and a bit of a heat burst…”
  • La Blog Beaute (Cheltenham): “As we stepped through the door, I instantly fell in love the vibrancy of the restaurant…”