Dishoom offers a taste of the old Irani cafés of Bombay, with a stylised decor to match. The London-based group already has a strong following up north; the launch saw people queuing down the street, and when we visited the crowds still hadn't thinned.
Behind the modest frontage it's a multi-sensory hit: thick incense smoke wafts through corridors, ’60s Indian psych tracks drift over the speakers. The huge 150-seater dining room takes over the Grade II-listed Manchester Hall – a former freemasons' lodge – turning it into a dimly-lit treasure chest of marble, leather and dark wood panelling.
The one thing that outshines the decor is the food. And what food. Pau bhaji – a popular Indian street food – is comfort food at its best: a gently spiced mix of mashed tomato, beans, potato and veg which was scooped up greedily with hot home-made rolls fried in butter.
What's more the company is active in charitable work too, so you can dine knowing that some of your money is going towards causes we should all be behind.
Manchester was bound to love this place – spicy, hearty and no-nonsense are some of our favourite things, and Dishoom nails all three.