I’d looked forward to my first wander down Brick Lane. But, truth be told, as a “destination”, it’s not a patch on Manchester’s “Curry Mile”. The same sort of generic “Indian” restaurants – but fewer of them and the area had none of the vibe of Rusholme (even accepting this was daytime and there’s probably more of a buzz in the evening). There were one or two promising places – cafes with no menus posted and jugs of water already set out on the tables. Similar in style to the excellent little group of caffs in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. But, unlike my local places, these were empty and uninviting. Most odd, I thought.
But I wasn’t there to eat. My plan was to walk on a bit further round the corner to Tayyabs. And, of course, that was the reason Brick Lane was empty – everyone was here. It was packed and I had to wait 10 minutes for a table. I was about to have an excellent lunch.
I nibbled on the small plate of salad that appeared almost as soon as I sat down. Chicken tikka came heavy with spicing, but not overdone. It was a good and zingy starter.
Sag Gosht brought a plentiful bowl of lamb. The small amount of sauce was little more than the cooked spinach seasoned and moistened a little further. This was good. Very good. Pilau rice was nothing to write home about but it was properly cooked with a few peas added and was flecked with something or other that I couldn’t determine. A roti came just as I like them – soft in places, crisp in others and with just a bit of charring here and there.
A veritable feast for £12. I just wanted to find a park bench to lie down on for a couple of hours, but there was an afternoon’s touristing to be done.
Nice little review. I just wanted to say that those water jugs and so forth places you passed are most likely the handful of properly Bengali places on the stretch. Gram Bangla is by far the best of the lot, but the number of those is shrinking too. For example, Sabuj Bangla went out of business and the only remaining good thing at Shalimar is their Hyderabadi style biryani on Fridays at lunch. Also, they're not as empty later on. Gram Bangla in particular can be packed to the rafters after prayers or late at night. Also, Manchester's Curry Mile actually happens to be the places where most of Manchester's South Asians live, but Bengalis are either A. Moving on up or B. Getting rented out rapidly so the area around Brick Lane is going to be firm Yuppy and Hipster territory soon enough. If you ask damn near any of the employees who work on Brick Lane where they live it will either be a surprisingly close council estate (minority) or the area around Green St (overwhelming majority.)
BTW, it's interesting that you'd go for their chicken tikka. I don't actually remember hearing a review of that before. I've stuck pretty strongly to lamb when going there, but I prefer Kebabish on Green St anyway.
"Manchester's Curry Mile actually happens to be the places where most of Manchester's South Asians live".
Actually not so. The greater concentrations of south asians are in the Longsight, Whalley Range or Cheetham areas, rather than Rusholme. Also, Bangladeshis form quite a small proportion of the south asian community in the city, which is predominently Pakistani. They do, however, form significant communities in other areas of Greater Manchester outside the city itself - for example the town of Hyde (part of the Borough of Tameside).
Cuisine round the region tends to reflect this (when, of course, on the rare occasions that it moves away from the "generic")