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The Lime Tree review (no, not that one)

Danny Moran on how a north Manchester establishment gets a coriander epiphany

Published on June 15th 2009.

The Lime Tree review (no, not that one)

Aquariums in restaurants – good or no? I mention only because The Lime Tree, this aspiring new place on Bury Old Road (not to be confused with West Didsbury’s finest) has one, and it’s a belter. Those fish have a hell of a galleon to flip about in. It’s like a 1/16 scale Revell model of The Bismarck.

Thankfully The Lime Tree is no sinking ship, however. Or at least not any longer.

It used to be a bit of a rough-arse boozer called The Turf. Then they wanted to do something a bit more upmarket with it, so the proprietor, Enrique, opened a tapas bar called ‘Enriques’. You’d pass by the window of an evening and see a full set of empty tables, like a duff bingo card waiting for a pencil.

So Enrique decided to put an open mic on in the back. This brought some of the regulars back in. Somebody shipped in a makeshift PA and there were Oasis tunes and some old fella sang ‘Little Boxes’ and asked everyone to listen to the words “cos its true”, and people got smashed there, in the back of a doomed tapas bar.

It was a bit like when the Merchants on Oldham Street suddenly got transmogrified into ‘Late Lounge’ during the Britpop boom, and briefly became a uv-lit tramp-free zone, until the tramps figured out no one else was going to go in there so they might as well sit in uv-ville.

So now the old Turf is a Bangladeshi with friendly service, slate floor, Hindu icons, exposed beams in beech lacquer, soft vinyl seats and brown tablecloths. Quite a lot of brown, in fact. There’s still plenty of rough edges - a cracked pane here, a dodgy dessert there - but that seems just fine to me.

The fish can stay, for my money.

We go on a Friday night. It’s packed. It feels like a proper Friday night curry house. Kind of boisterous without actually being boisterous, if you know what I mean. Rusholme at the weekend.

We get seated and the chutney tray arrives: onions fresh, if a bit lacking in bite; lime pickle suitably wincing; mango generic; raita wonderfully aromatic with fresh coriander. There must be a lot of fresh coriander in circulation at the moment because we get more of it later and we emerge from the Lime Tree, burping and satisfied, a good two hours later, praising the coriander. If you like coriander go the Lime Tree.

My friend started with the paneer pakora (£3.25) – cheese balls deep fried in gram flour batter with a junior naan and a little lemon squeezer which might be good for getting your mate in the eye should duelling become necessary. The fluffy batter scored highly here, and my friend – not to decry her eating habits – set about it as though feasting on little spicy clouds.

I had the garlic mushroom puri (£2.70), also with junior naan and lemon squeezer. Once more the coriander took hold like an acid hit, somewhat at the expense of the garlic and the mushrooms.

The Lime Tree’s menu blurb makes virtue of milder dishes, so we decided to go for the subtler mains. My friend’s amerghi murghi (£6.95) – chicken cooked in mango pulp – reportedly offered succulent pieces and a delicious clay oven flavour.

My own sylheti ayir (£9.75) - curried fish - came with onion rings. They’ve got the batter thing down to a ‘t’ here. It’s otherworldly. Special prize goes to the rice, though, which was deliciously dry and grainy, mingled with fresh saffron, cardamon and, erm, coriander.

I’ve had better mains here, though. Curried fish can be a bit of a mis-step, and I slightly regretted not going for something hotter and meatier to mix with that rice.

Well, it was for the good of the review so we felt obliged to try the dessert menu. This boasted ice creams in plastic moulds such as black bird in a plastic mould called ‘Punky’.

“Is punky a toucan?” asked my friend, possibly the worse for the Cuvee Jon-Paul sec wine she was drinking.

“Well, do you think he’s more likely to be Punky the Toucan or Punky the Penguin?”

“They don’t have penguins in Bangladesh.”

“I don’t think they have toucans either. Have the Funky Pie. Review the Funky Pie for me.”

The Funky Pie (£2.80) came in a plastic cup. It was vanilla ice cream with a biscuit crumb base, toffee sauce and hazelnuts on top.

“Is 1970s’ supermarket food funky?” my friend asked.

“God, yeah.”

“How’s your Aroma Venus?” (chocolate ice cream with cinammon, raspberry sauce and nuts, £2.80)

“Equally funky.”

Three courses and wine came in at just under forty quid. We had a top night at The Lime Tree, which is clearly more than your regular curry house and yet boasts the atmosphere of one. Undoubtedly that’s why the place is finally doing so well.

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: Gordo gets carried away

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

EditorialJune 15th 2009.

Mags try here

Robin SkylarkJune 15th 2009.

Excellent place, glad it's got finally got some internet presence (no website to speak of...) and the good review it deserves. Been going there since it opened for takeaways / meals and has been uniformly excellent - v. friendly staff. A welcome alternative to the more bog-standard curry houses in the area.

Beefy StewJune 15th 2009.

Hate to be a bit grim but those things sat on top of the rice in the main picture looks like something my Jack Russel produces having nicked a chorizo sausage off the counter. Euww.

southside ronnieJune 15th 2009.

Popped in on Sunday and although they were very busy (Father's Day and the day of the Prestwich Carnival) the service was friendly, the food was good and the bill was more than acceptable- so will deffo be back to explore the menu further.

candlestickchimneyJune 15th 2009.

Prestwich locals -is it any better than The Prachee?? I know their food is average curry fair, but their service is exceptional.

CurryMadJune 15th 2009.

This place is excellent the food is always spot on never disappoints !! We've been going since the place opened. The owners should have called it "The Little Gem"

gillJune 15th 2009.

The service when we went was absolutely dire. So bad, we've never considered going back, even though we live just round the corner.

dylanJune 15th 2009.

Mr Ali's round the corner is better.. Mukta does a mean Jalfrezi

Robin SkylarkJune 15th 2009.

To be fair, don't tend to bother with the desserts...

JJune 15th 2009.

Love this place. It's much better than the prachee. Staff are wonderful & food consistently excellent. Service used to be a bit dodgy when they first opened but it's great now.My 4 year old thinks Mr egg head and punky penguin are the best (& grown ups aren't supposed to eat curry house desserts anyway).

Horray For HolyrodJune 15th 2009.

Was somewhat wary of this place when it first opened - but since then they have announced 'under new management' and finally decided to post a menu through my letterbox. The dishes and specials described did lead me to believe that it was a bit more than a basic curry house trying to appeal to the charming clientele of pubs like the St Margaret after kicking out and this review has now helped convince me to give it a go - so thanks for checking it out and giving it the thumbs up

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