Top Quality

Derby St, off Cheetham Hill Road
Opening, Sun-Fri Noon till they run out, 3-4PM
The unprepossesing entrance to TQ

Interior on a quiet day
Chicken, kofte & daal
Sunday Special, Nehari and chapattis
Chicken byriani, lamb and chana
chickpeas, lamb, chicken, salad and rice, £4.50
Keema and spinach, chicken and chickpeas
Friday biryani and 3 curries - £4.50, bargain
Lamb, chicken, chickpeas and salad
It's a toss-up between here and Qila Khyber as our favourite in this area, if not the whole of Manchester. Excellent.

February 2012 - I had literally 15 minutes and this place sorted me out - lamb, salad and chappati £5 - really enjoyed it. Also, the original guy was back working there, he's just a bit more on the ball - and offered me another chapatti (I think for free) which was a nice touch. Keep it up.
January 2012
Slighty weird today - the food was fine but it needed mirowaving - having 'just been made fresh'. Bit odd. and the pricing was strange. I didn't want rice, but 3 curries was £5 on its own. Rice & 3 is only £4.50 - bizarre, it actaully costs more not to have rice. Then 2 roti on top took it to £.6.30 - I'm pretty sure roti are only about 40p. Couldn't be bothered arguing this time, sometimes I can but not today. No big deal.

November 2011
Great Friday trip, chicken biryani and 3 curries for £4.50 - a bargain and delicious. I feel a little guilty that I'm not getting the full flavour of the biryani having the currries, but I'm not turning then down. Who would?

 And yet again the strange pricing system infuriates. Rice & 3 is £4.50 - but curries without rice is still £4.50 - you pay for the rice no matter what. I fancied chappati today and guess what? £4.90 - £4.50 for rice&3 even though I didn't have rice then +40p for chapatti. You've just got to accept that rice&3 is a great deal. It just galls a bit when you want something else. This little lot was £4.90 - though would have been the same price with rice. Given some places charge £1.50 for rice this seems a bit weird. Anyhoo - never mind.

October 2011
Standards seem to have slipped a little, probably due to new staff. My food had to be microwaved up to temperature which isn't a gerat sign of freshness. It tasted OK - but just not quite as much care or attention seems to be going into the running of the place as before. At £4.50 it's still a great deal - just not quite up to its own high standards.
August 2011
23rd - Good but not outstanding, perhaps the lack of daytime custom due to Ramadan is taking its toll on turnover and quality but it was all a bit slap dash today. The curries were very generic and almost identical, I also had the dreaded pool of water on the bottom of the plate - from the rice not being cooked correctly. To be fair it appears the main guys are taking a break and the new guys are taking time to adjust. - Still decent at £4.50, just not quite the top level we're used to here.

lamb, chicken and kofta
As mentioned numerous times Top Quality is great on a friday because the rice is actually chicken biryani. It's a shame in a way because the biryani is good enough to be eaten on its own without the curries but it seems like looking a gift horse in the mouth to refuse. It's still an astonishing £4.50 and as good as ever. Interesting little side not - noticed a few times here that if you ask for rice &3 they just pick the curries for you rather than tell you what they've got. Not a big deal.

Stayed off the rice this time, cracking spinach and chops curry, with a bout 4 chops in it. I also had a few chickpeas for luck which although extremely tasty were also one of the hottest 'standard' dishes I'd had in ages. Check out the little flecks of chilli. This bowl of delight + 2 roti was £5.30. But rice&3 is £4.50 - how that works is a mystery. I think you just have to accept that rice & 3 is the best value for money and if you happen not to want it that's your problem.

June 2011
Great lamb today, the chicken was a bit bland, huge portion and still £4.50 - good stuff.

Back again - not much to report other than the Paey (sheeps feet), that were on the menu. There's almost no meat, it's mostly jelly and skin to be savoured by those with a craving. I'd had it a few years before and thought much the same as I did today - tasty enough but I resent it being as expensive as more expenise meaty curries, using prime cuts, which is a pretty basic observation. I can't imagine many folk liking the gelatinous texture. And it consists of stuff most people would throw away, but as with all these things, if you really like it nothing else will do. On the picture below the roundish shape toward the bottom of the bowl is a bit of foot bone. Tasty but not a regular choice for me. Everything else was fine and dandy.
Paey and chickpeas

In the faddish way we do, we're back again very soon. Back to the usual rice and three combinations - and very good they were too.

01/05/11 - Sunday Nehari Special
For those who don’t know Nerhari (pictured) is a Sunday special at many a curry cafe. It’s a long slow-cooked, rich lamb dish with added pep and zest in the form of raw chillies, coriander, ginger, lemon and sometimes crispy fried onions.   Top Quality’s was a decent stab, though not fantastic. The accoutrements we added for us, so we couldn’t do it to taste – it was pretty bloody hot too. Too hot for my companion, even after picking out the chillies. Not too fussed about this – if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the cafe.
There wasn’t an awful lot of meat – it was more of a stringy broth. But this is kind of the point. However the subtle aromatic spices, that can make this so dish special, were all-but missing. It was all chilli and lamb fat, without the warming, garam masala type, spices coming through. As a side note the chapattis were excellent, samosas decent and as we’ve mentioned numerous times the service is great and the guys working there very friendly. As one of us was pretty much unable to eat their food I elected to take it home in a container – which the remainder less than half filled, so the guy serving filled my carton from the main stewing pot at no cost.  Very decent of him.  We really like it here at Top Quality, it’s really relaxed unlike some other cafes and the food is always reasonable and plentiful, the nehari didn’t blow my mind – and did blow my friend’s mouth. I’ll be back, they might not.

Exactly what you want, quiet place, great food, big poriotns, £4.50 and no arsing about.

Interesting one today. The guy seving didn't quite get the while rice and 3 thing - so gave the first of us (the lucky one) a full portion of Friday Biryani - which is a great chicken dish in its own right - then piled on a full portion of the chickpea curry. Then realised the intention was three curries and added portions of the other two - chicken and lamb. This was totally nuts and an incredibly large and rich meal for £4.50 - really this could have fed 2 of us and maybe 4 normal people. The food's always good here - some other elements are a bit haphazrd but usually in the customer's favour - who cares??!? - It's great value and a great place. Unless you want fine dining I can't see you being disappointed, so long as you engage with the staff and make sure you get what you came in for.

In a rush on Valentine's day and this place is probably the quickest around as it's rice&3 - so it's already cooked, there's usually no queue and you can park outside. This all adds up to quick. The food was very good - though we were in such a hurry that half was eaten before the photograph (lowest) was taken. Ah well - we're sure you've got the message about this place. It's good. The curries here always taste like Top Quality curries - therefore if you're not into their basic flavour you may not like any of them - as ever it's a matter of taste but we reckon any rice and 3 fan would be happy here. Still/back to £4.50 for rice & 3 - after a dalliance with £5 (depends who's working).

On form, great stuff (pictured).However the curries today weren't quite as good as their very best. They had a slightly thickened quality, as if some form of starch had been added - a bit like water from canned pulses.  Or maybe we went a bit later than usual and they'd thickened naturally.  Anyway, this didn't detract much, it wasn't like chippy curry thickened with cornflour - just a minor point as it's so hard to say anything negative about here. Top Quality's food is very distinctive, there's nowhere like it. We love it.

£4.50, large portion, good food. The pictures don't do it justice. It's also an oasis of calm in comparison to some other places nearby 

Different guy serving, different price: £4.50 and a massive portion. Great. 

Not much to say, mediocre by their standards, good by everyone elses. 

The portions are getting smaller. However, the vegetable curry was very good today, and the addition of salad and yoghurt is always welcome.

Superlatives and hyperbole just fail. If you want to see what all the fuss is about just come here - especially on a Friday.

A return to TQ. Still easily one of the best rice and three places - if not the best! A gut-busting plate of delicious food was served up, followed by a discussion about the roti/chappati/naan distinctions.

Great trip after a 6 week break. Chicken, lamb off the bone and daal for 3 - the price was £4.50 a piece and we all left very happy. 

14 & 18/06/10
....We go pretty regularly - it's good! - though Fridays have to be the standout day - for 2 reasons.
1. There's no rice, but the Chicken Biryiani is excellent.
2. The Friday guy only charges £4.50 for biryani + 3 curries, where as the normal guy charges £5 for plain old rice & 3. A better thing for less money - ??? We just won't question it. 

Great food today - (pictured) chicken on the bone with green peppers, urid daal and lamb. £5.

During the few months since our first visit we’ve been back half a dozen times or so. The standard of food has remained high – some days better than others but never bad and always worth the trip. The pricing has wavered between £4.50 and £5 for ‘Rice & 3’ and we’ve had different reasons as to why this from different members of staff – it's a bit frustrating but that’s the nature of it in curry cafes. The other slight issue is that the 'lamb' has become rather beefy in flavour and texture - if we didn't know better.... Anyway, we still recommend this place very highly. £2 for 2 seekh kebabs, chapatti, salad and sauces seems a bit of a bargain.

Dec '09
About as inauspicious a place as you could imagine and with one of those names that makes you assume the opposite Top Quality is not the most alluring of propositions. But, as we know, a shiny front and high street location doesn't guarantee good food either.  Top Quality has been open about 10 years and is at the really paired down, no frills end of the Curry Café market and we loved it.  The food was excellent and well priced – chicken, lamb, Kabbli channa and rice for £4.50 – chapatti an extra 40p.  All three dishes were superb and distinct, the lamb and chicken were excellently cooked and tender – the chickpeas were fresh, not tinned.  One minor negative was the lack of coriander, chillies etc to add – however they weren’t really necessary as the food was so flavoursome - and rather spicy, possibly the hottest around, but not uncomfortably.  The range was small but well judged, 6 curries, rice, chicken tikka, seekh kebabs and samosas – that was about it. Just what you want.  The curries are made fresh and change daily and when they are gone the place closes. So a great venue, although quiet – but no complaints at all, one of the best.  A quick pint down the Derby Brewery Arms afterward rounded off an excellent hour or so. Top Quality is a bit out of the way but well worth the trip.
...Quick note - future trips have been really good, one inparticular in which an excellent chicken biryani was served as the rice contingent of the meal, at no extra cost. Best £4.50 spent in England that day.

Key Ingredients 18 (out of 20)
Other Food 8.5 (out of 10)
Service Setting 8.5 (out of 10)
Value for Money 4.5 (out of 5)
Range 3.5 (out of 5)
Average Rating 8.6 (out of 10)

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1 comment:

  1. For various reasons TQ has become a regular - we go plenty. There's no point mentioning it everytime. We'll just mention any major changes. April 2010.