Nawaab Manchester Review
My review is written from parents prospective with a young toddler.
We visited Nawaabs on Thursday 6th December 2012 after a hefty 90+ minute drive. Lucky for us, Munchy (now two) was kept occupied by the YouTube app (Curious George anyone?).
We arrived in Manchester and were greeted with the rain and wind. The car park had ample parking space and is a short walk to the actual restaurant. There is a staff member manning the car park, however always you should remove all valuables from view and secure your vehicle.
We knew we were close to the glorious food-the fragrance greets you on your approach.
On arrival the first thing that you notice is the grand scale of Nawaab-it’s affordable luxury for everyone. The entrance hall is decorated simply but elegantly with images of Bollywood stars from the bygone era (an image of a young Amitabh Bachchan sticks out to the Bollywood nut in me). There’s a lovely relaxing water feature too providing the backdrop to many family photos. There’s also plenty of seating if you are waiting for family/friends to arrive.
The toilets are also well kept-and by the looks of them are checked on a regular basis.
So we steadily moved on into the restaurant. As soon as we entered we were swiftly greeted by a member of staff asking how many were dining and we were quickly escorted to a table. The waiter was very efficient and quickly provided us with a High Chair for Munchy he also took our drinks orders (which were a jug of Pepsi-for the OH and water for me-bottled though. More on that later). There is no Alcohol at Nawaabs-perfect for those like me who prefer venues that do not serve it.
I got my husband to go up and get his food first so whilst I was waiting I made a few observations which I hope Nawaabs are able to take on without the potential of losing profit.
Firstly, to maximise the amount of people that can be seated we were literally packed in like sardine cans. There’s no privacy. Okay, so we didn’t go to Nawaabs to make out, however when you have a small child with you, you do cherish extra space. I would really recommend that Nawaabs allocate the seating against the wall to families with young ones. That way, it gives more leg room to the parents and you won’t be in fear of your child reaching over to others plates on the table next to you. I know it’s a tall ask, however believe me, parents with toddlers will understand what I am talking about. Also, you can easily fit in two High Chairs without them obstructing the walkway of others as children cannot move their chairs-a bonus. Maximum clearance for everyone to go up to the Buffet and fill their plates (to a reasonable size-please folks do not waste food).
Once the OH came back with two plates (one with chutneys, one with food-this is a simple measure to ensure Munchie didn’t eat any chillies) I approached the Buffet.
Actually before I talk though my experience, my husband pointed out that you can actually get barbequed 'chops' freshly cooked off the buffet. You simply ask the gentleman cooking them. There not on the buffet like the other dishes, you have to basically get them fresh as they come off the fire (literally). Just a note for those of you who love their chops. Okay moving on.
Now I have been to Nawaab at least five times. I love their food. The set up this time round was similar to how I remember however the only change I noticed was there was more non-Pakistani (desi) food. I shall move onto that later.
I had the following from the salad cart:
Hummus (Arabic chickpea dip-heavy on calories)
Boondi raita (this is a accompiment made of tiny gram flour bites served in yogurt-very nice when done properly-more on that later).
No other salad for me, however I did notice the following:
Leafy salads, pasta salads, cholay, plenty of chutneys.
What I had as starters:
Lamb seekh kebab (minced lamb kebab)
Aachari cholay (chickpeas flavoured with pickles e.g. Aachar)
Aloo tikki ( potato pattie)
Masala fish (fish fried in a thin flavourful batter)
Baigan pakora (aubergine dipped in a gram flour batter and fried)
Aloo pakora (potato dipped in a gram flour batter and fried)
Mixed pakora (onions and potatoes shredded and mixed into a gram flour batter and fried)
Masala fries (fries that have been tossed in corn flour flavoured with various spices)
Please note that I had literally bite size portions of the above so that I could taste them all.
From the mains (after polishing off the starters) I had:
Pilau rice (one pot rice dish where the rice is cooked with various spices e.g. black cardamom) Known as Brown rice amongst the Parsi community
Palak Gosht (meat curry cooked with spinach)
Sarson ka saag (mustard greens cooked in a similar way to spinach has a distinctive strong taste)
Lamb karahi (lamb curry cooked in a tomato sauce)
Again, I had small portions. I’m happy with variety rather than quantity. I mean if someone else is going to cook for you you’d want to try everything right?
Now let’s get onto the important stuff-taste.
Oh boy, I have such fond memories of the starters at this place I don’t know where to begin. So you will have sussed that I am going to write something negative about the starters, and believe me it pains me to do so! There will be people out there saying ‘you can dip them in chutney’. To you I say I don’t want to dip them in chutney, I want to enjoy their unique taste. Not sure if this was just a one off, however if Nawaab have adjusted the flavourings of the above I do not recommend the items to those like me looking for punchy flavour. Don’t waste food folks, just enjoy the other items.
Frankly, the following items were bland: masala fries,potato pakore, mixed pakore, baigan pakore, boondi raita, masala fish and aloo tikkis (these were introduced somewhere between our last two visits). I don’t know what else I can say-they lacked flavour and someone clearly forgot the salt. I’ve had all of the above(apart from the aloo tikkis) at Nawaab and they were all sublime-this time round though they were so bland even Munchy wouldn’t eat them.
So I noticed a change on the mains menu-the tarka daal that used to be chaana daal has been replaced with another lentil. I loved the tarka channa daal so skipped this.
I simply cannot get enough of the following:
Sarson ka saag (the Punjabi in me loves this stuff)
I enjoy their pilau rice too-plain with no meat so you can enjoy your mixing and matching with the various curries.
The flavours of the Sarson ka saag was smooth, not too spicy and went really well with everything else I had chosen. Palak gosht is a favourite of mine since I was a child, and the way it’s prepared at Nawaab makes it almost a comfort food for me. If I was ill and needed to eat out this would be my staple. Strange I know, most people ask for chicken soup.
The Lamb karahi-what can I say the balance of spices with the meat make this the perfect partner for the pilau rice.
So now there are people reading this saying ‘where’s the chicken’. There is plenty of chicken on the menu so relax I just chose to stick to the red stuff. Chicken dishes included Chicken Biryani, chicken boti, chicken wings and various chicken curries.
Other meat curries on the menu were: Haleem and Nihari. Both of which take ages to prepare and cook at home so eating these two dishes whilst at Nawaab would make sense.
Non-Pakistani (desi) food. Nawaab are proud of the fact they can cater for literally all tastes and so they should be. On the non-desi food cart I spotted the following: Noodles, chicken pie, pasta bake and lasagne plus other dishes I cannot remember. There’s also the usual fries and even pizza for the less adventurous eaters.
Anyone with a sweet tooth must be in Heaven when they take a glimpse at the sweets cart at Nawaab. There’s plenty of cake (chocolate cake and ice-cream anyone), ice-cream and Pakistani sweets e.g. Gulab Jaman, Gajar Halva, Seviyaan and other traditional sweets to keep all amused. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to taste the sweets this time round, however judging on the paste Nawaab provide fresh sweets to satisfy all.
Okay so now that I’ve covered what I ate and so forth, I wish to share my positives and negatives with you all:
· £13.95 per adult for all you can eat. Children between the ages of 4-11 years are charged at £6.00 per child. This price includes all courses, drinks are extra.
· Ample free parking
· Friendly and helpful staff
· Service is incredible
· Variety of food
· Quality of food-in particular the meat
· The freshness of the food-you can see the food being cooked as you move along the Buffet.
· Under 4 year olds are free
· High Chairs available
· You can bring your own cake if you are celebrating a special occasion. Cakes can be provided by the venue at a cost.
· Tables are too close together-not enough space to move around if you have a child in a High Chair.
· You can only pre-book for group sizes of 15 or more. Weekends can get really busy, so a wait can be expected.
· There’s only Bottled water? What about the stuff that comes out of taps?
· The starters as highlighted in my review are too bland for my palette that is used to the previous punchy tastes provided by said venue.
· Tarka daal has changed!
If I could have a chat with the management of Nawaab I would say please consider allocating the space along the wall to parents with little ones in High Chairs-please think of the space we need plus we don’t want to annoy neighbouring tables with our children reaching over for their items. It happens and believe me even the most well behaved child can become distracted by a shiny purse on another table.
I would also like to see a ‘spice indicator’ on the Buffet. Perhaps there is one and I did not see it? I honestly think having an indicator will assist on reducing food waste. I actually ate all my starters even though I wasn’t happy with them, how many others would do that? Maybe a simple system of ‘chillies’ from a scale of 0-5; 0 being no spicy, 1 being flavourful not spicy...5 being hot.
I do hope the starters I had were simply down to a mix up in the kitchen and that the flavours haven’t been adjusted to the extent that the food is no longer as flavourful as it was in the past. If this is the case, I would be more than happy to re-rewrite my review to reflect this (once I have sampled the starters that is).
Nawaab is an award winning eatery which delivers quality food every time. If you want to experience genuine Pakistani/Desi cuisine at an affordable price (and all the food is Halal too) this is the venue for you. Nawaab do not hold an Alcohol licence making this the perfect venue for Muslim families and those who wish to stir clear of it. If you are away from the homeland and are craving proper home cooked food-Nawaabs can help you out. Don't forget that it's a buffet so you can go up as many times as you please. Let's not overload our plates and waste food. Think of those who are unable to eat as they have nothing. I don't want to put a downer on this review, however wastage is not liked my Nawaabs-and I must agree with them on this. Just go up a few times guys, everyone is there to eat noone will be watching you.
Until next time folks,