This Must Be The Strangest Restaurant In Manchester
Have you been?!
I must hold my hands up and admit, living in the city has made me lazy.
The convenience-factor of a central location means that if I'm hungry and heading out for food, chances are unless I've been dragged elsewhere for a pre-arranged birthday or Christmas celebration I'll hedge my bets and choose a city centre dining location.
I had Alborz - a Persian restaurant in Levenshulme (just on the outskirts of the city centre - only about ten minutes drive away, in fairness) recommended to me by a friend so I went along last night to check it out.
Oozing simplicity with a modern-traditionalist twist, if a little odd (these guys brew their (admittedly authentic) tea in a great big contraption by the window, causing most of Levenshulme's passers-by to peer in) it's the perfect spot for a relaxed, no-fuss-no-frills Tuesday evening.
And the calming atmosphere is only accentuated by the offering of traditional spiced Persian tea, which I ordered on arrival in an attempt to thaw out the Winter chill that's recently taken permanent residency in my bones...
My dining partner was a glutton for the delicate sugar cubes served with our pot, but due to my recent gorging on the likes of Manchester dessert icon Black Milk - plus everything in my cupboard that's vaguely caramelized, I decided to have mine without and it was just as tasty - a warming, calming pick-me-up which we were served again post-meal as a non-boozy digestif.
I succumbed to an in-house recommendation from the starter menu called Mirza Ghasemi (smoked aubergine, tomatoes, egg and fresh garlic.)
Priced at £4 it was served - like most of Alborz's small plates, with an elephant-sized helping of 'Taftoon' bread, freshly baked to order.
The combination of hot Persian fare and fresh bread to mop it up was glorious and just what I needed to warm the cockles, in fact I was so intent on delving into the beast that I almost forgot to save a little for the main course - but at £1 per portion of Taftoon, it barely mattered...
Traditional stews and grill plates are the restaurant's specialty, so we decided to share one of each. After a bit of deliberation and guidance from our friendly waitress, we opted for 'Makhsoos - Koobideh & Chenjeh' (One skewer of grilled lamb and one skewer of succulent marinated lamb fillet) and 'Fesenjoon' (Sweet and sour chicken stew made with pomegranate sauce and ground walnuts.)
The skewers were very generous and the description of the lamb fillet's succulency is not a description - but a promise. The meat was beautifully cooked, skewered and served on a platter of saffron rice, salad and a few chargrilled veggies (bewarned: the green chillies are only for the brave!)
The stew I enjoyed a little less, the sauce was perhaps just a tad too sweet for me but the chicken was very tender (it's a meat I opt for less and less these days as you always risk it being tough, but the chicken in this stew was cooked beautifully) Mixed with the rice, taftoon and a home-made cucumber-yoghurt dip, the taste was glorious.
To wash it all down we ordered another pot of tea and enjoyed a few sweet bites of 'bamieh' (persian doughnuts with rosewater and saffron.) They look a little like mini caremelised churros and if you have a sweet tooth you'll love these, gloriously rich and succulent - they're one for a cheat day but it's certainly worth sharing a small bowl.
Very reasonably priced at around £10 for a main (7 if you opt to go veggie) the place ticked all the boxes in my eyes. Excellent food, friendly staff and a very comfortable environment.
Alborz don't currently deliver but they'll happily take orders to collect and although the place doesn't serve alcohol, you can bring your own bottle.
Personally, I found the experience the perfect chilled mid-week treat and I didn't miss the booze but if you're going at the weekend with friends or family a nice bottle of red would be the perfect accompaniment, particularly if you opt for one of the signature lamb grills.