We've been a few times over the last few months, in all honesty it's usually because it's been the only place open. The kebabs are pretty good and the curries pretty average. If you're hungry and it's late Tastemaster's becomes a very welcome addition to Oldham St - though we never really plan to go.
Here for kebabs this time. Decent chicken tikka with salad and sauces that were pretty good. Nothing amazing, but the bread was alright. This place is definitely not in the top tier of kebab places. It is alright for town though - for some reason town kebabs are a few notches down from Rusholme. This is made up for by the Curry Cafes being better here.
Back again for an unplanned late saturday feed - seekh on roti, good salad and sauces, no complaints.
A bit weird this one - late night kebabs. Two chicken kebabs were ordered but no skewers of chicken were taken from the cooling cabinet to be put on the grill. I asked why not and wanted assurances we were getting freshly cooked food. The guy was really hurt: "I assure you it's fresh - if you want me to cook those for you now I will" - Then we entered into rounds of "no no no no, it's fine." - "No no no no, I will, if you don't think it's fresh I'll cook those for you now...".That went on for a while.
It was pretty odd - it felt like I'd stabbed him in the vitals. - Yet his reasoning was that there was the exact thing we ordered ready and waiting - a customer had ordered it moments before and left not wanting it - ??? The place was empty with no sign of custom and it'd be rather fortunate for their order to have been to have been two chicken kebabs. But stranger things have happened.
Anyway - they were OK if a bit dry. Some places pre-cook and put fresh tikka meat into foil containers (Kabana for one) - but this seems more about speeding up service than anything else. I'll never get to the bottom of this. It was a nice little interlude on a cold evening.
A late night curry was required and this was the only place open in the vicinity. We asked if they had anything decent on and the welcome answer was 'lamb chop karahi'. The meat was slightly tough but it was flavoursome if not exceptional, rice was of the tasty and ridiculously multi-coloured variety and the chapatti was fine - how could it not be? I can't help but slightly admire Tastemaster's - even the name brings a smile to my face. Perhaps my expectations are so low that they always pleasantly surprise me. If any of the Thomas Street big hitters were open late I'd probably never go here. But they shut early and Tastemaster's doesn't.
What Tastemaster's can do is deliver a hot plate of reasonably tasty food - relatively quickly - at a good price, which sounds alright. But perhaps this place's low scores shows how much more there can be to a good Curry Cafe experience. The communication and setting were poor: after attending to his fat fryer for a significant length of time the sole staff member found it very difficult to accurately communicate what was on offer. There were allegedly 4 curries and rice for £3.50: this translated into 4 ingredients rather than different dishes. Just three were requested, to follow the usual format, and they all arrived in one mixed curry sauce. This was a pretty strange concoction leading to the conclusion that if you’re in the Northern Quarter you have to at least offer ‘Rice and Three’ and worry about providing later. The food was acceptable and the sauce was tasty (if generic). The rice was quite well spiced, and the whole dish was extremely (microwavedly) hot. The chapati was good and fresh and, to be fair, the samosa, pakora and other starters were up to a decent standard. Differentiation between dishes, and condiments and garnishes seem a closed book to Tastemaster's, which seems to be favouring the late-night chicken burger and doner kebab market over the day-time curry. Perhaps this is due to the level of competition around from more established Cafes.
Key Ingredients 13.0 (out of 20)
Other Food 8.0 (out of 10)
Service Setting 4.0 (out of 10)
Value for Money 4.0 (out of 5)
Range 3.5 (out of 5)
Average Rating 6.5 (out of 10)
Rice and 3 has not been re-attempted here as they don't seem to do it. It's a little bit difficult getting to the bottom of their lunchtime offer - though it seems like 1/2 a container of rice with 1/2 a container of curry for £3.50 - or possibly half of 2-4 different curries. £4 for daal and a chapatti seemed a bit expensive, but then possibly £3.50 for a meat curry and rice was an option - who knows? £3.20 chicken kebab looks a decent option although daal and chapatti were very good, as it happens. This place can be handy, it's usually pretty quiet, it's open late, they've got reasonably priced hot food and there's no faff. It's quite good in its own way, although no daytime curry fan will make this a 'destination' with Yadgar thirty seconds walk away. However if you're having a few pints in the Oldham Street vicinity and want something hot, fast and pretty cheap - particularly after 7-8pm Tastemaster's appeal becomes a bit more apparent.
...and again. OK 3.50 for a container of half curry/half rice is definitely available - though whether that's lunchtime only is hard to tell as it's on the offical board above the counter which doesn't say a thing about times. Anyway - it's OK, the lamb and chicken dishes weren't really different but £7 for lunch for two, in town, is pretty good in anyone's book. Add a chapatti for 50p and you've got a reasonably substantial meal.
There’s an unwritten rule with places like Tastemaster’s – don’t rely on the menu, if you can’t see it up front you’re probably better off not doing. And so it was with the kebabs. Chicken was all that was visible so chicken was ordered. Lamb is a less popular choice anyway so therefore deemed uneconomic to make fresh in some places. There was no way lamb was going to be ordered and possibly microwaved up or whatever… I digress….
The chicken tikka kebab was absolutely fine. Everything was fresh and decent, if unremarkable. The bread was pretty thick - which is a matter of preference, in this instance it made for a hearty meal on a cold day. The meat was properly cooked and the marinade quite tasty. The salad and sauces were pretty ‘regulation’ but also fine. There’s no stand out kebab venue in the Northern Quarter and this was certainly no worse than the others. £3.20 is pretty good too. As for the place, it never seems the same twice. To be fair it’s best when empty – the passing trade form Gulliver’s doesn’t particularly help although the staff have always been polite if not necessarily helpful.
Scores out of 10
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