When you make a sweeping statement like 'Best Indian in Manchester' as I did of Mughli the other day, there will always be a few people who disagree. Of course, I don't know if Mughli is the best Indian restaurant in our city, I've not been to every single one, but it's my favourite. A few people mentioned Zouk as their preferred choice, so I thought I'd have to check it out.
I was armed with plenty of recommendations of what to eat as well, although when I'd mentioned lambs brains, Mrs Bacon had looked aghast as expected and said that she just wanted something "like a rogan josh" Rogan Josh!? I said. No, we have to have something authentic. She didn't look convinced. "Brains are not my sort of thing" She said, frowning. She's not a fussy eater by any means, but she draws the line at offal and "that sort of thing".
So we went on Sunday with other card carrying members of the Chorlton Curry Club.
First impressions were that it was another "posh" Indian and that it was really busy.
Ok, now onto the good stuff. The food was sensational. Tandoori Mixed Grill starters (Mixed char grilled starter with Chicken Imlee, Seekh Kebab, Lamb Chops & Chicken Drumstick £6.95) were all really good, that char-grilled almost burnt taste they do perfectly. I polished off as much of as I could get hold of. I also enjoyed the Punjabi Lollipops (Chicken marinated in pomegranate wrapped around a chicken wing then gently cooked over hot charcoal £3.25.)
The Magaz (Pakistani speciality of sheeps brain pan fried with onions, tomatoes, green chillies & garam masala £6.95) was like smooth spicy mince. I enjoyed it. Mrs B said she was "glad she'd tried it" but wasn't a convert.
We were really stuffed now, so we paid and buggered off.
So my views on Zouk are that the food was superb, but that is the only element that they had right. Nothing else worked for me. The room was just awful, dark and noisy with dated house music playing loudly and unnecessarily, the service (bar one waitress) was poor, they were well understaffed, and some of the waiters were just plain rude. The whole impression I got was; we're so busy, we can get away with what we want!
Not with my money they won't. I won't be back despite the fantastic food.
In conclusion, it's not a patch on Mughli in my opinion, as a whole experience, the food is equally as good there (and authentic) but in contrast the atmosphere and staff are excellent.
Zouk need to understand that you need more than great food, you need to keep the customers happy, and that involves good service and atmosphere which were sadly lacking on our visit.
Price: A bit more than the average Indian.
Service: Poor, bar one waitress.
Atmosphere: Terrible. A dark loud barn.
Food: Generally excellent.
Star dish: The Handi
Tune: Masters At Work Feat India - Backfired.