"It Won't Set The World On Fire, But Manchester's Newest Street Food Unit Is A Healthy, Happy Feed"
If you can find it under the scaffolding...
Last month we told you that Michelin-recommended Bundobust was arriving on the city's food scene and, with a view to keeping at least one New Year's resolution this 2017, I thought I'd swing by and put the food to the taste test.
It's 100% vegetarian and, still a newbie on the food and drink cityscape, hopes to win over Manchester with its authentic taste of Indian street food and craft beer expertise.
It's currently hidden under a mountain of scaffolding so it's easy to overlook, but those with a keen eyesight will be able to spot the colourful tiger logo at 61 Piccadilly. And the interior alone is worth the hunt.
Descend a small stairwell and you'll emerge into the venue's surprisingly vast space. Bespoke artwork harking back to Manchester's industrial past adorns the walls of the industrial-style canteen. Starving, we grabbed a booth and I ordered an ice-cold mango lassi.
With a finishing sprinkle of candy, the lassi looks cute as a button and tastes even better. Its smooth and fruity yet creamy character lends itself to the perfect drink to accompany spicy food. My dining companion opted for one of Bundo's many craft ales, their speciality being the Bombay Dazzler - which is certainly not for the faint-hearted.
You can order a couple of beer snacks while you wait for the mains, I chose the popcorn and pops (mini poppadoms tossed in green chilli and garlic oil) with desi ketchup, tamarind and date dip and a cooling pot of yoghurt and cumin, which was a refreshing change from the classic poppadom and mango chutney combo, but you've also got the choice of 'far far' (essentially spiced savoury rice puffs) and a mixed selection of coated almonds, peanuts and lentils.
Unlike a lot of restaurants in Manchester right now, Bundobust aren't parading a knock-your-socks-off January deal, but their Lunch Express option - featuring two of their signature tapas-sized small plates for £7 - means it's still a pretty competitive - not to mention filling - lunch.
We decided to order four plates and share everything. From the menu we opted for the okra fries, egg bhurji (Indian scrambled egg with peppers and spices - on a flatbread) tarka dhal and rice and Bundobust's signature bhajis.
The tarka dhal was filling and very tasty - I think lentils are such a glorious, wholesome vegetable and the dish as a whole just felt so damn healthy, an instant resuscitation from the Christmas chocolate avalanche.
The egg bhurji however, I wasn't a huge fan of. Perhaps it was merely second to the dhal but I felt it was a little bland in comparison and wouldn't actively choose it again.
Yet, for those of you who'd refrain from ordering okra fries with the view that they'll just never be the same as proper chips, be open-minded. These are small salty pieces of heaven and I'd have them with my battered fish any night of the week.
Beautifully seasoned with black salt and mango powder, these fried lady fingers ooze that richness that you only seem to be able to get at great restaurants and they are undeniably moreish (best get a couple of servings if there are a few of you to avoid arguments.)
Last but certainly not least was the kulfi (indian ice cream) of the day. Bundobust don't seem to shout about their kulfis as much as the tapas plates and this, in my opinion, is a crime in itself.
Priced at £2.50 a pop, the flavours change regularly, but the kulfi of the day featured above combined traditional Indian flavours of cardamom, star anise and cinnamon. The marriage of cream and spice shouldn't work but it absolutely does and I could have eaten five of them right then and there. It was hands down my favourite part of the meal and I will be stopping by on a weekly basis if left unrestrained in the city this summer.
Great location, good food and excellent ice cream.
I'd certainly recommend a visit if you're working centrally or visiting for the day. A happy, relatively healthy lunch and awesome, chilled space if you're grabbing a pint or cocktail with a few friends.