Pakistani/North Indian style - Wilmslow Road, Rusholme
Slightly over-cooked today, but still some of the best (both in terms of the quality of the meat and
flavour of the marniade) lamb tikka kebabs around. The place is a bit gloomy and there always seems to be a bit of a fuss about us having chapattis instead of naan but hey ho. It's strange what minute things can effect your enjoyment. Apparently so much that we go to Saajan almost every week and this place more like once or twice a year and yet there's little difference food-wise. Clearly it's not all about the food.
Predictably lamb tikka and fish tikka were ordered - and predictably they were good. It's not much fun in here but the food is great. The lamb is the best around and it's one of the only places (along with Al-Madina) that does fresh fish - ie cooked from raw, on the spot. Salad and sauces decent, chapatti excellent. Very good indeed - shame it's a bit gloomy, the one small window in a big place issue isn't going away - whether you care or not is another matter.
June '10 -
The lamb tikka is still the standout dish, nicely cooked and seemingly quite high quality meat, certainly by comparison with most other places - L'al Quila Express is worth a visit just for this. £3.50 is a good price for an excellent kebab. Although for most other dishes I'd probably head elsewhere - not because the rest of the food is bad, but it isn't good enough to outweigh it being a bit grim here. There's usually a delivery truck outside blocking the window and chugging fumes in - which is loud and a bit stifling, the customers can be a mixed bag - though this can be the case anywhere and the staff aren't as friendly as some others. These factors may spoil the atmosphere a little, though for lamb tikka (and chops) this good it's worth it every now and again. For some it may even add to the charm as we hardly go to places like this for creature comforts and 'Starbucks' style service.
Feb ’10 – see below for previous.
This was an interesting trip. L’al Quila is not a regular haunt of ours and as usual we left wondering why – yet again… The lamb tikka is the big attraction here, so far as the kebabs go at least. Frankly, it’s streets ahead of its competitors. The chunks are large, excellently and interestingly marinaded and cooked to juicy perfection. Many curry fans cite the lamb chops as their favourite part of an Indian meal – this kebab delivered that delicious sensation with fresh, salad sauces and naan for £3.30. Is there any point banging on about anything else?
….Oh go on then. It wasn’t all perfect – the bread was hot and fresh though it broke rather easily with almost a slightly scone-like texture and lack of glutinous stretchiness. No complaints on the salad – finely sliced and a good array. The sauces remain a slight issue as the chilli is essentially yoghurt with some flavouring in – which if added liberally along with the genuine ‘yoghurt’ sauce creates a gooey mess – although getting sauces separately will solve this minor issue. The place is still gloomy (though there has been a bit of a refurb - making it one of the cleanest and bright-reddest places around) and the staff are not really friendly – barely registering the orders with slight nods of the head. However that’s not a big issue – we were served promptly and efficiently, which is much more important. There’s no getting away from the side-street location and basically no window to look out of. – Are you bothered when getting possibly the best lamb kebab you’ve ever eaten? (seekh kebabs were also excellent)– You might be, as secretly I think that’s the reason we don’t go there very often – quick kebab trips are about more than the food, though if I were taking this food away we’d be a much more regular customers.
Scores out of 10
Walking around Rusholme and picking a venue is part of the fun and L’al Quila Express, being situated on the invisible side of the restaurant of the same name, is immediately at a disadvantage. In addition, the premises themselves are pretty gloomy and what little light there is, is often blocked by delivery trucks. However that is pretty much where the negatives end. The service here is excellent, and the people who work here really know what they’re doing. The meat is beautifully done, with the impeccable lamb being the best we’ve found in Rusholme. (Incidentally the grilled meats were by the far the best thing eaten in a recent and much more highly priced meal at the ‘big’ restaurant part of the business – and were the same as found here) The chicken is very good but the marinade was not quite subtle or interesting enough to match the lamb. Other foods here are excellent too - the freshly fried fish tikka being a favourite. The chilli sauce slightly lets the kebabs down: it is yoghurt based which means it does not offer a tangy contrast to the minted yoghurt sauce - which was only a minor fault. The bread was good without breaking records – chapatti is often a good bet if the quality of naan is variable.
Scores out of 10