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Coriander, Chorlton, Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield says 'yip yippee' over his curry

Written by . Published on July 16th 2013.

Coriander, Chorlton, Reviewed

CORIANDER, with its restaurants in Chorlton and Withington, is very fine.

This is a proper neighbourhood restaurant group that is doing it right - or mostly right - providing great food to an appreciative audience who lap up their nuanced Indian sub-continental food.

The combination had clearly a zillion other unstated ingredients but was so good it could have formed a centrepiece for a feast in Shangri-la.

The newest Coriander restaurant, called amusingly, Chorlton Central ('All change for Chorlton Central') has a sparse interior, that is coolly efficient rather than welcoming.

Fortunately you hardly spot the interior behind all the people. The place never seems to have a quiet time, populated wall to wall by the perfect model of a south Manchester crowd, urbane, chatty, pleasant and generally polite.

Simple interior

Simple interior and a man eating with concentration and enthusiasm - good lad

Not that there aren't occasional issues.

"Honestly Chorlton," said my eldest son back from Leeds University on our recent visit. "It's very different from Headingley in Leeds isn't it? In Chorlton everybody has to have some cause. Did you see the woman on the bike outside?"

"Nope. What about her?"

"She was leaving and putting on a hi-vis jacket. On the back she'd written with a felt-tip 'One Less Car'. Can't just get on her bike can she? Has to be part of a protest, has to be angry about something."

He had a point, but nobody in Coriander was on a soap-box on the occasion of our visit, or if they were, they were being quiet about it. A shame really as I like a good debate. 

I also like good food and this is what Coriander provides. 

If you find a better lamb tikka starter at £4.90 then I'll be very surprised. The lamb was infused with mint and yoghurt and then grilled. The combination had clearly a zillion other unstated ingredients but was so good it could have formed a centrepiece for a feast in Shangri-la. The key was the skilful balance. We used a spoon to make sure we didn't miss a smidgin of it, scraping the plate so hard it lost its enamel. 

The lovely starters, clockwise, chicken, lamb, prawn


The lovely starters, clockwise, chicken, lamb, prawn

The other starters were almost up there with the lamb tikka, especially the king prawn (£6.90) which was apparently 'tossed' with garlic and mustard. Tossed or not it was a little stunner, the mustard and garlic were a welcome extra but it was the mollusc that came through, blasting our mouths with seaside and rockpools.

There was nothing wrong with the chicken pakura starter at £3.90 either although an interesting oddity is the mulligatawny soup at £3.20, a creamy lentil delight a long way from a can of Heinz.

The mains (top picture) were also an absolute delight with the best being the 'Bengal style' venison (£9.90) with mint, coriander, potatoes, cloves. It was astonishingly zingy, fresh, with a lift in the flavours that left the mouth buzzing. The spuds were particularly good as was the meat. Another scrape the enamel off the plate fave.  

You're looking lovely today, deer


You're looking lovely today, deer

The duck jalali (£8.90) and the supreme lamb (£7.90) almost matched the venison. The lamb in a lovely mix of cumin, masala, mustard (good, strong presence) was given extra punch with garlic, a lump of which I caught and happily munched on for a few moments. The duck was hotter than the other dishes and was given a boost with ginger. 

The rice (£2.30) was boiled and boiled perfectly. A bum note was a side of tarka dhal (£4.90) which was too loose, but then the naan was a glory, shredded and fresh as can be. 

The wine list is functional at best although Coriander lists both organic and inorganic wines - it knows its audience. Best to stick with the beers - their grittier character generally goes better with curry. I had the Sam Smith's pale ale and it worked a treat.

Sam's Smith Ale in a bottle, good for curry

Sam's Smith Ale in a bottle, good for curry

Service was all over the show. Waiters milled about in the relatively small space standing on each other's feet. One had a terrible issue with smiling, another said, "Are you having the boiled rice, man?" followed by "And is it the duck for you, mate?" which was sort of endearingly informal.

We were also promised free poppadoms and they never arrived. As if to underline this, the bill had 'NO PAPA' written on the top which sounded sad and the opening line of a sentimental American sitcom.

(Actually forget sad and think terrifying. On the menu poppadoms were spelt 'papadooms'. Yikes. Zombie fathers on the attack at the end of the world.)

Try this place.

Coriander generally provides excellent food at decent prices. Its food is cultured and clever.

When we get a selection of quality neighbourhood restaurants in our suburbs we'll know that British food has really turned a corner. Coriander is part of this heartening process.

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+


Coriander, 485 Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton, M21 8AG. 0161 881 0340.

Rating: 13.5/20

Food: 7.5/10 (Lamb tikka 8, chicken pakura 7.5, prawn 7.5, venison 8, supreme lamb 7.5, duck 7.5, tarka dhal 5, naan 7.5, rice 8)
Service: 2.5/5
Ambience: 3.5/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away

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26 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJuly 16th 2013.

Only 13.5? 7.5 for the food? I'd give it at least a 9. and 16.5-17 overall. It's the best curry house in Manchester and rated against the majority of its counterparts it totally blows them out of the water. Decor-wise, its perfectly fine but the ambience is electric being 90% full most of the time and yet they never turn you away - just open up the back room for the overflow with a smile on their face. Adding to the excellent service both front of house and in the kitchen, despite them being full in the front section and 3/4 full in the overflow section the other Sunday, we were seated immediately, drinks orders taken in 5 minutes, food another 5 after than, 'papadooms' in another 5, starters another 10, mains 10 mins after we finished starters and bill upon request. Despite the fact the restaurant was packed, we never felt pushed to hurry and the waiters are smiley, happy, pleasant and polite (in a non-scary way!) Did I mention the food? Ohhhh the lovely, lovely, fresh, non-greasy, flavoursome, tender, perfectly spiced and balanced food....Gahhhhhhh.

Bob the BritJuly 16th 2013.

Funny, I always thought prawns were crustaceans.

Geoff BainesJuly 16th 2013.

Agreed anonymous. I live in Chorlton and have eaten at Coriander about 4 times in as many weeks! Quite ashamed to admit that actually... But it is absolutely amazing food. I think the service at the new one is still finding it's feet though.

AnonymousJuly 16th 2013.

Twoddle. The food's a 9 for a start. Of more interest to me though is exactly how what a cyclist was wearing outside a restaurant in any way related to a restaurant review? If you want to moan about people in chorlton having a conscience, wouldn't it be fairer to do it somewhere where it isn't having a potential impact on one of the best restaurants in the area?

AnonymousJuly 16th 2013.

Only a 7.5 for food is laughable, particularly when you consider the scores given to other Indian restaurants on here.

FoodLover1July 16th 2013.

Corinader sounds great! Will be checking it out soon =) Everyone here seems to love great Indian cuisine... I would recommend Indian Tiffin Room in Cheadle, which is new and very fresh! indiantiffinroom.com/… Not what we are used to here in the UK that's for sure!

AnonymousJuly 16th 2013.

Not exactly sure why you think your son's opinion of Chorlton matters, in fact I'm wondering what significance can be drawn from anyone's attire. I dare say your son enjoys Top Gear, iPads and looking in the mirror. His only cause is probably stuffing his genitals in as many women as he can whilst high-fiving his equally vile Rugger mates. Anyway, I thought the food was fantastic and the service excellent. That it's in Chorlton is as significant as it being on Mars, it's just a good Indian restaurant as influenced by it's surrounding neighborhood as Morrison's is. If you want to be controversial Jonathan, be more creative. Like your son is in the locker room.

8 Responses: Reply To This...
pollolocoJuly 17th 2013.

Anon....is it your time of the month?

Jonathan SchofieldJuly 17th 2013.

Anon, listen we normally take personal comments off unless they're about Gordo or me, but your sheer bloody stupidity amidst a welter of contradictions, coupled with your cowardice in insulting people without using your own name reflects so badly on you I'll keep this up. For the record my son has never played rugby.

mancadamJuly 17th 2013.

if you dont like personal comments then publishing your son's may have have been a bad idea, i suspect. contradictions indeed.

AnonymousJuly 17th 2013.

Well out of order that Anon. Try some humility, learn to take a joke you sanctimonious turbo.

Mr Careful-With-That-GrammarJuly 17th 2013.

I feel some capital letters are needed in that bit of bile.

AnonymousJuly 17th 2013.

Anon, if you're going to play 'holier-than-thou', do you think that making implied gay jokes such as the one in your last sentence is appropriate? Keep up the 'right-on' pretence all you like; it's pretty clear you're harbouring some of your own dark prejudices inside.

SmittyJuly 17th 2013.

A troll-tasticly unpleasant comment. Chorlton types (by which I mean those types of people who feel they have to write such messages on the back of their hi-viz, not people who live there generally. Some of my best friends live in Chorlton) can never take the criticism, no matter how mild. Jonathan's son's point is entirely valid and vaguely witty. Anon's comment is just nasty.

CharlotteJuly 17th 2013.

Congratulations anon, you've totally undervalued any opinion you were trying to convey by doing it in expertly gorp-like fashion. Bravo.

Carolyn O'hanlonJuly 17th 2013.

Totally agree with Mancadam - keep personal comments out of the reviews if you don't want them on the boards. Such comments about Chorlton are predictable and depressing anyway. What is so clever about not really caring about anything or not being middleclass?

1 Response: Reply To This...
SmittyJuly 17th 2013.

Sweetie, that's a big assumption that people don't care about things. I care about lots of things but to the best of my knowledge have never worn hemp. Also, reviews are meant to be personal - it's kinda the point of them, no?

AnonymousJuly 17th 2013.

To be fair, his son IS right

Jonathan MoranJuly 17th 2013.

Jonathan consistently 'gets personal' on this forum with users who dare question his reviews on anything from scran to trams. Leave his son out of it but Schofield has been fair game in my eyes for a long time.

1 Response: Reply To This...
I live under a bridgeJuly 17th 2013.

Ah look a real troll on the internet for Schofield

David in CheshireJuly 18th 2013.

"enamel"? Were they serving you on tin plates? I rather suspect it was the glaze you were scraping away.

Axel LariatJuly 18th 2013.

Is this next to Azad Manzil?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 18th 2013.

Yes, with Tandoori Flame on the other side. Coriander is the best by a long shot, in my opinion (I don't work there, just a happy Chorlton resident!)

AnonymousJuly 19th 2013.

Is the 'Chorlton Central' branch better or worse than the first Chorlton or Withington ones?

Jon XOctober 15th 2013.

Hey! Im a Chorltonian without a cause... though that sounds like a cause... might scribble that on the back of my hi vis!

Carolyn O'hanlonJune 17th 2014.

Can we have a review of Tandoori Flame in Chorlton please - I believe its the best curry house in Chorlton, maybe Manchester and it deserves a try out.

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