A 125 Wilmslow Road, Rusholme, Manchester, M14 5AN
It has now been at least seven years since the currycouncil last sampled the cuisine of the aptly titled "Curry Mile" in Rusholme, Manchester.
It became clear that some of the restaurants on the famous "Curry Mile" must be included in our website, to back up our claim of being the true Indian Restaurant knowledge base of the Manchester and Cheshire area.
The "Curry Mile" consists of over sixty restaurants and takeaways on Wilmslow Road. The venue for the June 2009 curry was set after extensive online research and "Lal Qila" was our venue of choice.
The mile appeared a little bit scruffier than on our last visit, with scaffolding and broken neon signs now common place across a number of restaurant and shop fronts. Parking was extremely difficult and subsequently most members arrived ten minutes later than planned due to the lack of car parking spaces available in the area.
The large restaurant appeared busy on our arrival and consisted of a mixed crowd consisting of students, couples, families and a nice Cilla Battersby-Brown lookalike.
The décor was basic but neither modern nor old. The interior of this white washed restaurant does not really have the look or feel of a traditional "curry house" or that of a restaurant that has chosen to move forward with the times.
A complimentary poppodum was served to each council member with a small selection of dips. The texture and consistency of the mango chutney was very thin and probably had been diluted down with water. The standard and choice of the dips was quite poor and it was noted from the bill that the dips were not complimentary.
Nice pints of draught Cobra were promptly served all round and went down quite well.
The waiter quickly and rather impatiently tried to take the food order before the first pop had even been broken. Winfield asked for a “couple more minutes” to give the council chance to peruse their menu.
The waiter took our order after a short break and we resumed our usual discussions. The main talking point of the evening included welcoming Paul "The Rat" Day back to the fold after his self-inflicted six month break from all currycouncil activities.
The council were pleased to see him and explained the reasons behind our current stRATegy of targeting the Rusholme area for review. Mr Day didn’t seem too impressed with his surroundings and raised a concern about finding the toilets unsupervised.A mixed selection of starters arrived, with Winfield and Hague opting for the firm currycouncil favourite of the Chicken Chaat. The chaat unusually was not served on the traditional Chaapati and this instantly raised concern with the lads.
Hague began to chew on his flourescent coloured starter and started to grimace. He shouted out, in his ever so not discreet voice, “Lads, this chaat tastes a bit too sweet. It tastes like Uncle Ben’s Chinese Sweet & Sour Sauce”.
The rest of the currycouncil began to taste his starter and all concluded that the sauce was not home made. It strangely included numerous chunks of tinned pineapple, tasted like it was from a jar and overall was incredibly poor.
The other starters included the chicken tikka, which was well marinated and nicely spiced. The onion bhaji’s were disappointingly quite small and unusually were presented in a circular flat shape rather than the more traditional "tennis ball" shape. The bhajis lacked the usual distinct onion taste and had an overpowering taste of potato.
The waiter constantly asked if we wanted "any more drinks” after every five minutes. This became quite repetitive on the 19th occasion of him asking, as did the rather sulky look on the waiter's face when we didn’t order another round of drinks.
Things so far were not looking great but surely Lal Qila had to deliver on the main courses?
Two members chose the "Chef’s Special" and were left unimpressed with their choice. They wondered why the dish was actually described as "special". The sauce was quite dry and rather bland.
The chicken and lamb Balti’s were also both sampled and would be described as "average to good".Winfield tried his luck with the Chicken Jalfrezi and again was not impressed with Lal Qila's offering. He was dissapointed with the small "Lets Go To Iceland" style chicken pieces that were in in the dish.
The naan served was very flat, circular and appeared almost like an Italian pizza base. The naan bread lacked any natural fluffiness and the usual brown "bubble type crators" that we have become accustomed to over the years.
The pilau rice was served to us on two very large plates. The texture of the rice was lumpy and the presentation unappealing.
The months curry organiser (CMS) had pre-organised a group booking discount of 10%, offered by the tout outside. It was noted that when the bill arrived the restaurant had not honoured the promised discount. After some persuasion the waiter reduced our bill by just 6% and we all begrudingly chucked in
If Lal Qila is a true reflection of the standard and quality of the restaurants on the Curry Mile, the CurryCouncil may have to think twice before revisiting the Rusholme area again and it may turn out to be another seven year wait for a visit!
- Very busy restaurant with a mixed crowd
- Good pints of draught Cobra
- The Curry Mile's unique atmosphere and smell
- Vimto lollys with the bill
- Seats 600 diners over 2 floors
- Parking difficult
- Poor to average food
- Unappealing "Old School" Salad with starters (e.g. iceberg lettuce and huge tomato slices)
- Uncle Bens Chicken Chaat
- Waiters too pushy with drinks
Value for money 4/10