Zouk, Unit 5 Chester Street, Manchester, M1 5QS – Visit Now
These days, thanks to the likes of Scene and Bundobust, Manchester city centre has more than one top-tier Indian restaurant and Zouk is right up there with the best. A favourite for years with stars as varied as Peter Kay and Aubrey Drake Graham (that’s Drizzy, or Drake to you and me), it must be doing something very right indeed.
Based in the rapidly-growing Quadrangle building, just off Oxford Road, it’s a bright, open space, with huge glass windows and an outside shisha bar. It describes itself as “a new generation Indian and Pakistani restaurant” and new generation is exactly what it is when it comes to looks – it’s a far cry from the more intimate and ramshackle Indian restaurants down Curry Mile.
But when it comes to food, Zouk covers all bases. The cuisine is largely Punjabi Lahore, but there are dishes from all over the Indian subcontinent, all thanks to the varied backgrounds of the chefs, which take in Bengal, Sri Lanka, Nepal, to name a few.
It’s a delight to be served by someone who takes such immense pride in his work
Our waiter for the evening is Flavio who boasts true professionalism and a clear depth of knowledge. Casual dining in Manchester can often be a slapdash affair, with indifferent waiting staff – it’s a delight to be served by someone who takes such immense pride in his work.
We begin with scallops. It’s one of the more delicate starters, four pleasingly plump molluscs, gently spiced with a fiery hot dip – though in truth, they’re enjoyable enough on their own. The chicken liver is a bolder option – dozens of slices of hot earthy liver and onions, marinated with lemon and crushed chillies, served up in a piping hot skillet. Liver might not be the most immediate choice when dining out, but it’s a fine choice for those looking for the darker, meatier elements of the menu.
If you’re a korma fan, you’ll struggle to find one better in the city
For mains, the lamb nihari comes with a thick spice-rich sauce, coating the lamb shank. While the meat wasn’t exactly tumbling off the bone, it’s a quality option for fans of lamb. The chicken korma is a more obvious choice, but for good reason – done well, it can be the highlight of any menu. And this is one of the best around. Sweet, but not overly so, the sauce is creamy and perfectly balanced, with enough coconut and almonds to make it stand out from rival restaurants. If you’re a korma fan, you’ll struggle to find one better in the city.
As you’d expect from a restaurant that’s been packing them in for well over a decade, Zouk rarely disappoints. All the dishes are high quality and the restaurant itself has a pleasing modern feel. Our tip? Ask to be seated by Flavio for the full Zouk experience. You’ll see what we mean.