Delhi House Cafe, Corn Exchange, Exchange Square, Manchester, M4 3TR – Visit Now
Delhi House Cafe isn’t your typical Indian restaurant. Nearly two years in the making, this is the first UK outlet from the Lamba family, combining a relaxed drop-in feel with some truly elegant spaces. Indeed, the venue is huge but always feels intimate – cosy cubby-holes here, an airy balcony space there, whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it here.
It’s the best looking restaurant in the Corn Exchange, by some measure. Every corner you turn, there’s a new delight to gaze upon, from framed textiles to a charming ‘inspiration wall’. The staff are as upbeat and excited about the restaurant as its possible to get – there’s a genuine sense that this is something special and they’re proud to be a part of it.
When it comes to the food, it’s a cut above the average Westernised curry house. You won’t find big floppy nan breads or basic kormas on the menu, this is altogether more refined and authentic, taking cues from Delhi cuisine. Sometimes authentic can be a byword for inaccessible but that isn’t the case here. From the chaat menu, the dahi poori are the first indication that we’re in for a treat – a tray of five delicate wheat puff balls, packed with potato, chickpea, tamarind and mint. We’re told to put the whole thing in our mouths and bite down and let the flavours explode. My eyes bulge, Marty Feldman-style, and I quickly stuff another one in there. It’s a phenomenal combination of flavours and textures, sweet and spicy, crunchy and gooey – they’re an absolute must-try and worth the visit alone.
From the appetizers section, I choose the lamb chops which come coated in a gloriously fiery sauce and a dash of beetroot sauce underneath. The meat is exceptional, beautifully tender and perfectly designed for the impressively large kitchen’s tandoor oven. My guest opts for the fish tikka and immediately declares them the best things he’s eaten all year. They’re intriguingly green with a crunchy charred coating which yields to soft, gentle seafood filling. They’re a damn sight more interesting than a mass-produced onion bhaji.
For main, the changezi chicken is Delhi House Cafe’s signature dish. Tomato-based, with a host of intoxicating spices and aromas, it’s another example of just how high the standards are here. The dark chicken meat is packed with flavour and tastes a million miles from what you’ve been used to. No rice here, as per Delhi style, just a hot buttery nan bread to scoop up the meat and sauce. Again, it’s an absolute triumph.
The grilled trout is something special, also. Two pieces of flat trout, dotted with artichokes and porcini mushrooms, plus some edamame beans and a dash of truffle oil to go with the light dash of madras curry. Not too powerfully hot, more of a gentle kick that shows off the quality of the ingredients used.
The food isn’t heavy and stodgy, far from it, but it’s certainly filling, in a hearty, energetic sense, rather than the need-a-snooze carb-loaded late-night curry sense. The cheesecake is a fine way to round things off, gentle and creamy with a few dazzling touches to make for a memorable end. The chocolate tart is a stellar option too, resting in a shallow bed of rose-infused milk, with a thin layer of Nutella on top.
Delhi House Cafe is a wonderful addition to Manchester, particularly at a time when the food landscape is narrowing and scaling back. The restaurant is both opulent and welcoming at the same time, and the menu is different to practically everywhere else in the North. If you’ve grown tired of seeing the same old dishes on the menus in Indian restaurants, Delhi House Cafe will delight you on every possible level.