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Jaffa review, Rusholme

Jonathan Schofield prefers a Shawarma to a dodgy DVD

Written by . Published on May 3rd 2011.

Jaffa review, Rusholme

Tabouleh 002.JPGIT WAS A Jaffa cake of life, all human kind was there, all creeds and colours in the form of students, families, youths and yours truly with two sons.

Of course this being a restaurant/take-away with a Near Eastern menu it didn’t sell Jaffa cakes as the younger son asked. 

Yet the name comes from the same geographical inspiration: that part of the Mediterranean coast presently in Israel and famous for its oranges.

What Jaffa does sell is fetayer, shawarma, kebabs, mezze and knock-off DVDs. Some of dubious content. To be fair to the management, they didn't know they'd strayed into this illegality.

The DVDs were supplied by a Chinese gentleman who wandered in as the staff were distracted by the queue of customers in front of them. A quick scan over the covers before the man was chucked out revealed that some of the DVDs didn’t have the most sophisticated plotlines and seemed more visual in content.  

In contrast there is little visual content in Jaffa. Decor-wise the place has been thrown together. The ground floor has typical take-away seats leading up to a counter. The first floor is a bland space of pale woods and endless lamination. The sparse wall decoration seems to have been an after thought installed ten minutes prior to opening.

This makes the busy nature of Jaffa all the more welcome. People-watching provides the only adornment.

Service is minimal at busy times, food might be delivered to the table, but you order from the counter. On the Bank Holiday Monday after the Royal Wedding supplies were running low and  fatigue was showing in the faces of the staff.

MarkADDYStreetpartyJaffa 041.JPG

With our meals I asked for rice. “No rice,” came the reply. “No rice,” I said, “There are shops across Manchester full of rice.” “It’s been very busy all weekend,” was the gnomic response.

Since I was at the head of a queue eleven deep I believed him, but still....

“Do you want to give me some money and I’ll nip down the road and pick up some rice?” I said, being a smart-arse.

“Your order, please sir,” said the counter-man eyeing the queue behind and then coldly eye-balling me.

The three of us ransacked the menu.

MarkADDYStreetpartyJaffa 048.JPG

The spiced lamb fetayer (£3), the shish kebab (£5), the chicken kebab (£4.50), the chicken shawarma (£4), a full mezze (£3.80), a tabouleh (£2), a box of salad and a mint tea (£1). This was more than enough yet it I couldn’t even lose £25 over it.

The kebabs and shawarma came with immaculately produced pittas wrapped separately so you got at least two big kebabs out of one portion. There’s salad with every dish too. The whole thing is a bargain.

Not that we could eat it in the restaurant.

In the twelve minutes it took the food to be prepared the place filled so quickly there was nowhere left to sit.  I confess I wasn’t too disappointed with a take-away. I was feeling like tucking into a cheap but pleasant enough £6.99 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc I’d sourced earlier. Jaffa is dry you see. Not even BYOB. 

Back home the food turned out to be lovely, alive with herbs, spices and oils. Street food. Quick, satisfying and uncomplicated - probably a bit like one of the those videos the Chinese man was selling until he was chased out.

MarkADDYStreetpartyJaffa 050.JPG

The revelation was the fetayer, a spiced lamb pasty cum calzone affair with cheese included. Next time I want a quick, sharp, flavour-packed filler and I’m in the area, this is going to be objective one. 

The shawarma was a charmer.  

Shaved chicken from the spit, grilled and them livened up with spices, rolled by the customer (me) in a pitta sandwich with tomato, some jalapenos from the salad box, lettuce and cucumber too, onions optional. I even stuck in some hummus.

The lamb shish was beautifully done and came with a killer salsa to be self-applied, the mezze was fat with hummus, olives, yoghurt, cucumber and so on plus a cracking sweet red pepper collation. The tabouleh, that parsley, mint, bulgar, tomato, olive oil and lemon juice Near East staple, was good company on the Jaffa food ride too.

MarkADDYStreetpartyJaffa 033.JPG

Jaffa will never win any awards for quality of decor or smartness but it is worth seeking out for the food.

I finished off the meal in the garden with the Oyster Bay.

England in the sunshine, all the trees fresh green, the bluebells out, the apple blossom floating down - paradise I tell you.  

'East is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet,' wrote Rudyard Kipling. Not in my back garden. East and west came together in pure harmony. 

Follow @JonathSchofield on Twitter.

Rating: 13.5/20

7.5/10 food

2/5 service

4/5 ambience (because of the sheer mayhem of nationalities – 0/5 for decor, if we marked for that)



185 Wilmslow Road 


M14 5AP

0161 225 0800

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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ThomasMay 3rd 2011.

I love the simplicity of the place. Hey and some of those DVDs are good

HafasMay 4th 2011.

This is a great little place, one of the best on the strip and funny on the service. Pleasant or a bit off.

Gillynumber1May 11th 2011.

Lamb Shawarma is amazing!

GoodfoodfolkApril 23rd 2012.

Jaffa used to regime supreme, but recent trips show the veggie/vegan choice has gone downhill. Go to Falafel (great staff and fresh food, towards the Whitworth Park end of curry mile) and Safed (Bloom Street, back of Canal Street) are firm favourties. RIP Jaffa.

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