I was delighted to attend Zouk’s Spring Showcase recently which offered a preview of some of their Spring cocktails as well as food from their menu including their March specials. Here I will talk about what I tried.*
The restaurant itself features modern furnishings which is a far cry from many places in Rusholme’s famous curry mile. The restaurant has an outside roofed terrace at the front where you can try shisha. Once inside, the bar area is to the left and the rest of the restaurant in front with an open kitchen. It is very captivating watching the chef work the tandoor, the clay oven used to make naan bread. There is also seating upstairs which can be reserved for private dining, as it was at this event.
We congregated at the bar area initially, having been given our first cocktail of the evening. We mingled for a bit where I got to catch up with a couple of people I’ve not seen in ages. (Hi Nisha!) At some point in the evening, I noticed people were heading upstairs, so then proceeded to follow them up.
We sat down in a booth sharing with Miss M from Miss Pond and listened to the manager talk about how the evening will progress and about his love of Indian, particularly Punjabi, food. He talked with passion and you can tell he was very eager to get us sampling the menu. He then went to each table to make a note of which ones required the vegetarian menu. I asked if there was extra vegetarian stuff left, I would love to try them so that I can review these too for my readers, and he happily obliged with some of these.
The first drink of the evening was a simple cocktail made with Creme de Cassis and soda which made the rounds before we headed upstairs. After introductions from the manager, a waiter came round with mango lassi and our first cocktail of the evening. The mango lassi was quite nice with being a perfect amount of sweetness and consistency, not too thin or thick.
- Spring Fling – Consisting of Jose Cuervo tequila mixed with orange juice and topped with prosecco and garnished with a slice of lime. My friend enjoyed this, but I’m not as partial to tequila as she is.
- Karbooza – The name means melon in Urdu and is a blend of melon liquor, blue curacao, vodka and ginger, served with lime or a slice of watermelon. This pretty much tastes of Blue WKD.
- Elderflower Frost – This is one for you gin lovers. Gin, cucumber and lime topped with elderflower and soda. Very refreshing!
- Mango Crush – Mango, vodka and lime with a little sugar syrup. This was the most disappointing drink as it tasted of watered down mango juice. There was a very weak flavour and not much else. I do not recommend this.
- Strawberry and Black Pepper Smash – Strawberries and black pepper mixed with lime and topped with soda. This was pretty nice; the strawberry taste was quite nice and there was a hint of black pepper. I think I would have preferred a bit more of a kick, though.
- Pineapple and Ginger Float – Pineapple juice and ginger ale topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I think this was actually my favourite drink of the evening as I really love ginger drinks and in combination with pineapple makes this a tropical experience.
The canapes came round with panipuris (hollow deep fried bread with flavoured water and other ingredients such as chutney, onions and chickpeas). These are a popular street food and were really nice and if you’ve not tried them, I recommend you do. There were also onion bhajis but these escaped my grasp.
Four starters were showcased over the course of the evening, two meat and two vegetarian. Excuse the mess on the vegetarian starters, they were quickly consumed before I had even started getting my portion.
- Murgh Tikka Hariyali – Bengali kebab of chicken thigh marinated with mint and aromatic spices cooked over charcoal, which is my favourite way of cooking meat. This meat was very tender and not spicy at all.
- Kashmiri Lamb Kebabs – Minced lamb and Kashmiri chilli kebabs coated in breadcrumbs and served with a mint chutney. These had a decent kick from the chilli which was perfect for spicy food lovers but not overly hot that someone who preferred a small amount of heat could handle.
- Channa Masala – Chickpeas in a spicy masala. This was served with a small relish of tomato and onion. The masala sauce was fairly flavoursome.
- Vegetable Pakoras – Mixed vegetables in a spiced batter served with dipping sauces. The pakora was also nicely spiced, but not too spicy and fairly light in texture.
Similar to the starters, there were two meat dishes and two vegetarian dishes served with a healthy portion of pilau rice and naan bread.
- Qasuri Methi Murgh – a Punjabi favourite, this chicken curry is flavoured with fenugreek. The chicken was very tender and the curry flavoursome.
- Lamb with Sweet Potato and Almonds – a North Indian curry with lamb, sweet potato and flaked almonds. Lamb is my favourite meat so I was looking forward to how this being paired with sweet potato and almonds. The result was worked as the sweet potato combined well with the richness of the lamb. I struggled to find the almonds, but perhaps it got lost in the sharing process (which blogger took my almonds?!).
- Aloo Gobi – Punjabi style dish of potatoes and cauliflower. I love potatoes and cauliflower, so this was a perfect blend of some of my favourite foods combined with some awesome spices.
- Bindi Dupiaza – Okra in a sauce of garlic, ginger, tomatoes, onions and green chillies. This was quite spicy but I do love okra for some reason. I rarely eat it as it’s not on my usual shopping list, so this was a rare treat.
By this point, everyone was so full, so this platter was more than enough for the 5 people sat at our table. We managed to finish everything off, though. At the top, we have cinnamon doughnuts served with a chocolate dip. This was quite nice but would have benefitted from both the doughnut and the dip being warm.
The brownies were soft in the middle with a slightly hard outer layer which I liked. The brownies aren’t very gooey, so if that’s what you’re after, then these might disappoint.
At he bottom, we have what the manager called a Mumbai Mess, which is essentially part Eton Mess and part cheesecake. You have a cheesecake layer, followed by cream, then a raspberry compote topped with biscuit crumbs. I would have liked more biscuit crumbs as that is my favourite part of a cheesecake.
Overall rating and comments
8.5/10 -0.5 for the weak tasting Mango Crush cocktail. -0.5 for lack of protein in vegetarian mains for the event. -0.5 for the lukewarm doughnuts and chocolate sauce in the pudding. We were also given a copy of the Manchester Cookbook as well has essential ingredients to create Zouk’s recipe from the book! All in all, a very successful event put on by a very passionate manager from Zouk Manchester and Social Media Agency, Engage Hub, who created the video below. The Spring menu is live from April onwards!
— Engage Hub (@EngageHub) 13 March 2017
Would come again?
Yes. This is my fourth time visiting Zouk and each time the food has always been spot on. If you are wanting a different environment from the bustle of Rusholme, try this place! They are located not far from Manchester Oxford Road station!
Zouk have branches in Bradford and Manchester. Below are details for their Manchester branch.
Address: Unit 5, The Quadrangle, Chester St, Manchester M1 5QS
Have you been to Zouk before? What Indian curries do you like?
Leave a comment below!
*As Zouk invited me, I did not have to pay for anything. This does not affect my opinion in this review.