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Zouk Tea Bar & Grill Manchester
Tel. 0872 435 1188*
(*= Calls cost 13p per minute plus your phone company's operating charge)
Chester Street (off Oxford Rd), Manchester, M1 5QS [map]
~ 5 mins walk to the Palace Theatre ~
Amazing £1m Indian restaurant, opposite the BBC and Palace Theatre on Oxford Road. Great seafood & vegetarian options.
click here for Zouk Manchester

Zouk Restaurant Manchester ~ overall reviews
food
price
service
smartness
overall:
most popular dish: Zouk Ocean Platter (£21.50)

Zouk Restaurant Manchester ~ our review
The Sultani of Curry (September 2014)
Trusted Reviewer "In anticipation of an upcoming visit to India we decided to get into the swing of all things Indian with a mid-week visit to Zouk. Situated on the outskirts of the student village in Manchester, Zouk was one of the city's pioneering modern Indian restaurants, being a far cry from the old world curry houses of the 90's, offering a selection of modern and traditional Indian and Middle Eastern dishes.

Now despite being a September evening in Manchester, it was actually pretty pleasant outside. An Indian Summer, you might say. So we thought it rude not to sample Zouk's cleverly secluded outside terrace area, where you can enjoy a drink, some shisha, or even sample the full menu if you so opted. We were pleasantly surprised by the range of cocktails on offer, deciding upon a Mango Mojito and a Zombie. Both drinks were excellent, with the Zombie rivalling those offered by many of the city's Tiki bars. Truth be told we could of spent the evening sampling further delights from the bar menu but decided it wise to stop at just one on this occasion, before taking our dining experience inside the restaurant.

As you enter the dining room, you can't help being struck by its impressive décor and buzzing vibe. Even on a Tuesday evening, it was almost full. It's not often you see a dining room in town this busy mid-week, so Zouk has clearly attracted a loyal following since opening in 2009. The kitchen area was a very impressive and totally open affair, so foodie geeks like us can gaze over the work being done in the kitchen, and try and pick up a few tips on how to do things properly at home. After admiring the dishes being made in the kitchen we took our seat in a corner of the dining room, to peruse the varied and extensive menu.

Zouk - Coctails

We decided on the Falafel and Tandoori Mixed Grill for starters. The Falafel was light and fluffy on the inside whilst crispy on the outside, and packed with flavour, just how it should be. Served with a small side salad and some Hummous, this well presented yet simple dish hit the spot. The Tandoori Mixed Grill was full of meaty delights, with the tandoor seared lamb chop deserving special praise. It was marinated to perfection, and spicing levels were ideal, as to compliment and not obscure the delicate lamb flavour. Presentation of the plate could have been better though, allowing each meaty delight to shine in its own right rather than the overlapping disorganised style in which it was served. Still, the plate was empty fairly quickly, so the presentation did not detract from the flavour.

Zouk - Falafel Zouk - Mixed Grill
Zouk - Ocean Platter

After a slight wait between courses, our mains arrived briskly, without fuss and almost didn’t fit on the table (maybe we ordered too much?). The Lamb Sultani a tender lamb shank marinated in aromatic spices was cooked exactly as described in the menu, with the meat just falling off the bone. Plated in a round shallow bowl, the shank was surrounded by a delicately flavoured curry which did not overpower the lamb. The dish did look a little 'brown' though, and perhaps a garnish of contrasting colour to the meat and gravy would have given its appearance a brighter dimension. Generally though, a very good dish.

Wanting something from the speciality seafood section we chose the Zouk Ocean Platter which was full of quality submarine based ware; 3 Tiger prawns, a salmon steak & 4 juicy scallops in special Zouk marinade. We didn’t see any evidence of frozen produce here, something which all too many restaurants attempt to disguise and will quickly ruin any seafood party. The prawns in particular stood out for their size and freshness. The dish could perhaps could have used a side dip, along the lines of a very mild gravy or the dip which accompanied the mixed grill starter, just to give it a little more moisture, but it was a very good example of how a seafood grill should be done.

Zouk - Sultani Lamb

Our accompanying Pilau rice and Garlic Naan were also good quality, both beinf light and fluffy, perfectly complementing the main dishes. Our side of chilli paneer however, was a bit of a let-down. With a floury yet gelatinous texture which did not allow the flavour of the chilli to shine through and also slightly marred the texture of the paneer.

Felling incredibly full and on the verge of asking for the bill, our waiter appeared with the dessert stand displaying today’s offerings which included Cheesecake, Carrot Cake and Chocolate Gateaux. As always happens when presented with something sweet, we miraculously managed to find room for a slice of Carrot Cake (to share). The moist cake served with vanilla ice cream on a bed of crushed pistachios was a delightful end to the meal.

Zouk - Carrot Cake

So, we left Zouk feeling that it's a very accomplished, modern Indian/Eastern restaurant, with something to offer all tastes, whether you want a curry, some Schwarmas, to enjoy some shisha on the terrace, or try a few eastern inspired cocktails. Sure, there were a few shortcomings with plating and the presentation could perhaps be more polished, but we left Zouk discussing the possibility of finding a Lamb shank cooked as perfectly as the one we’d just eaten when we go on our Busman’s Holiday next week." ~ Restaurants Of Manchester (09/09/14 - visited on a Tuesday evening)

food
price
service
smartness
overall
"Modern Spice"
" Mid range"
"Brisk and efficient"
"Modern and bustling"
"Still got it"

Dinner for free? (Apr 2009)

Trusted Reviewer ""I can't remember being so excited about visiting a restaurant as I have Zouk. Perhaps this enthusiasm was added to, after our first visit ended with us being turned away as the restaurant had closed for the day due to last minute construction work. Visiting on what appeared to be a very quiet Monday evening for every other restaurant we passed, Zouk was actually reasonably busy considering.

First things first, the decor in this backstreet £1 million diner - just opposite the BBC Studios on Oxford Road - is incredibly impressive. Whilst it's not in the same league as Vermilion, Ithaca or Chaophraya, the huge wooden entrance that separates the bar area from the restaurant is fantastic. The open kitchen, which they encourage you to walk through when choosing your desserts, is a superb touch - especially for an Asian restaurant, a cuisine who's reputation is often dragged down by the unhygienic cooking practices of too many dodgy curry houses. Set over two floors, we were sat downstairs in the raised seating lit by the bright sunlight beaming through the massive glass windows

The menu at Zouk is incredible. Choosing from the impressively designed concertina style menu card (we'd previously had fun with the same style menus at Gordon Ramsay's Maze in London), there is plenty on here to keep everybody happy. From tandoori Karahi and Handi bowls to Jalfrezis, Pasandas, Kormas and Biryanis it's not just curries. Char-grilled fillet steaks are joined by 100% gourmet cut burgers and barbeque Schwarma roasts. A large vegetarian selection is made up of mainly spicy dishes although it's the huge seafood menu that we were most looking forward to. Manchester has been crying out for a restaurant which can offer a selection of tiger king prawns, haddock, salmon, red snapper, halibut, monk fish, sea bass, black cod, lobster and scallops. And the prices should also be praised, like those other Yorkshire exports Chaophraya, Akbars and EastZEast, Zouk firmly believe in delivering amazing food at great prices. As Lancastrians, we often joke about the penny pinching ways of our cousins across the Pennines, however if such a thriftiness can produce such good restaurants for amazingly low prices, then maybe we could learn a thing or two. The Gourmet Burgers and Schwarma grills costs just £5.95, much of the menu is only £6.50 and the most expensive dish you can buy is the Lobster Thermidor at a very reasonable £29.95.

We opted for the Tandoori Quail as a starter (£4.95) which was very tasty but, as is usually the case with quail, was more bone than meat, a fact the waiter even apologised for when serving it. I can't help but feel it was a waste of a fantastic bird as the tandoori cooking and spices took away the unique flavour of this rare dish. If Zouk were to serve Tandoori Chicken instead, you'd get a lot more meat for your money and would be none the wiser. That said, it was extremely tasty and at less than a fiver hardly a bank breaker.

The main courses were incredible value for money. The Chicken Schwarma (just £5.95) consisted of two wraps, each filled with slices of barbequed chicken fillet and salad, seasoned with lemon juice and accompanied by a cone of hand cut chips. Again at just £5.95 you'd have to queston why anybody would choose to eat in McDonalds or the various sandwich shops around Oxford Road when Zouk deliver such high quality grub at these crazily low prices. And Zouk is not just about low prices, the quality of the huge Zouk Ocean Platter (£12.95) deserves special recognition. The King prawns were huge and juicy, the salmon steak tender and very generous in size and the scallops were incredibly well executed - amongst the best in town. In fact many restaurants in Manchester would charge the same price for just the two scallops alone. Marinated in a gentle selection of herbs and spices and grilled over the hot charcoals in the open kitchen, the scallops are also available on their own as a starter (£6.95) and definitely a great substitute for the quail next time I visit - which will be very soon!

If Zouk is to be criticised for anything, on our visit the waiters left us with empty glasses on too many occassions and the cucumber in the salad was too hard, possibly cut earlier in the day or kept refridgerated. One of the manager's was extremely friendly and went out of his way to introduce himself to every table - a fantastic touch had he not stunk of cigarettes. But these are minor quibbles that could easily not be mentioned.

The waiters, who were very friendly despite not being very attentive, took us to the open kitchen to choose our desserts from the choice of beautiful homemade pastries and cakes. The Carrot Cake (£3.95) was huge and delicious, if somewhat a little too chlled, and the Selection of Ice Cream (£3.95) was also nice although again a touch too frozen. I guess at this point I should also recommend the delicious Turkish Delight Milkshake (just £2.50), again worth returning for on its own, and the equally impressive Cool Breeze smoothy (£2.50), just two choices from 20 laysees, milkshakes, juices and smoothes. The wine selection is affordable - six reds, six whites and two roses ranging from £9.95 to £19.95 - wth Proseccos and Champagnes for those who like it bubbly. There's a good choice of beers and at just £2.50 for Cobra and Casablanca Moroccan beer you have to question how a million pound restaurant can afford to be so cheap.

We took advantage of the Toss Up For A Free Meal offer Zouk are exclusively running on Restaurants Of Manchester and in an amazing stroke of luck, won our meal completely free of charge - if only we'd ordered the Lobster Thermador! Even if we'd lost the toss, we would have still been happy to pay the £42.70 bill, which reflected fantastic value for money for the quality of food and drinks we'd devoured.

Overall, Zouk has thrust itself into our Top 5 favourite restaurants in town and you could return time and time again and have a completely different meal. The family behind this award-winning Bradford export are enthusiastic about their Manchester venture and, being located so close to The Palace Theatre, the universities, Manchester Academy, Bridgewater Hall, RNCM, Manchester Apollo and Old Trafford, it's only going to be a matter of time before this becomes one of the busiest restaurants in town, giving Akbars and EastZEast a real run for their money in the process. Superb! We can't wait for our next visit!" ~ Restaurant Of Manchester (28/04/09 - visited on a Monday evening)



Zouk ~ members' reviews
"Zouk is an excellent restaurant with a real sense of theatre and style. The food is excellent, freshly prepared and well presented but, I would suggest if you're not keen on hot spicy food, that you tell your waiter and the chef can tone down the more spicy dishes. The meals and starters are just above mid-price and it's fair to say that you could pay just as much from a branded food chain, essentially eating ready meals that are not prepared freshly in front of you. There was a little confusion when it came to ordering desserts on our first visit as we had to go and view a selection at the counter and this was not explained to us: on busy days the staff bring the desert selection on a platter to you. Background noise does get a bit loud with the open kitchen so it's perhaps not the best place for a quiet meal although it does add an entertainment value to the experience. If you don't book, there is a risk of being sat upstairs at busy times, where the service is still good but you'll miss out on the theatrics of the chefs. I should also add that on-street parking is free after 6pm but you have to be lucky to get a space." - Paul Divall-Simmons, Manchester - NEW MEMBER - (11/1/11 - visited on a Friday evening)

"We Visited Zouk on Friday for a birthday meal for the first time and was very impressed by the décor and the open kitchen, so was expecting a good meal. We ordered quite a few different dishes, as we always tend to share and at the same time get to taste most of the dishes. For starters we had Chicken Imlee (£3.50), Seekh Kebabs (£2.95) and Gola Kebabs (£3.50), which were supposed to be mixed with cheese. Now there was no difference between the seekh kebabs and the gola kebab as we did not taste any cheese whatsoever. So quite disappointing. The Imlee chicken was basically just your normal chicken served with an Imlee sauce. I was expecting the chicken to be infused with some sort of Imlee (tamarind & plum). The sauces which are provided were also way to less.

One of the mains we opted for was Lamb & Potatoes (£7.95). The description begins with 'tender chunks of lamb that will melt in the mouth' - far from it I have to say. The lamb was extremely tough. Lamb is supposed to separate in a curry when pulled apart with a knife/fork to go with rice, or to separate when eating with a nan bread. This lamb was tough to say the least. After several attempts of getting a waiter over, we explained this to him. His reply was 'you have to chew on it'. He didn't even want to touch the lamb. He then went on to say their lamb is 6 months old, which we informed him it doesn't matter, when you serve lamb it is not supposed to be tough! Full stop, he said he will mention it to the chef and offered chicken instead, We had already had 2 mains as chicken and by this time we had finished our mains anyway. More than half of the lamb was not eaten apart from the potatoes.

When the bill arrived, around £80, we mentioned we shall not be paying for the Lamb & Potatoes dish and could someone confirm it shall be taken off the bill. After waiting 20 minutes for someone to confirm this and asking again for confirmation they told us we will have to pay half the price for the dish. I found this to be extremely ignorant and rude. We certainly will not be going to Zouk again. As overall the food was not to standard and we found the service to be very ignorant not to take on board its customers feedback. " - T Khan, Manchester - NEW MEMBER - (14/3/10 - visited on a Friday evening)


Trusted Reviewer "Zouk has very nice decor - the open kitchen is very welcome for an Indian restaurant and addresses any fears of the usual stereotypes of unhygenic chefs. The food is fantastic quality with an amazing selection of seafood dishes, all cooked to perfection. The Monk Fish (£14.50) and Chicken Shawarma (£5.95) were both very nice and the prices are fantastic - incredibly cheap for food of this quality. I have visited Zouk on many occassions - I would return for the Turkish Delight milkshake alone - and the only thing that lets it down is the poor service. The waiters are friendly but virtually non-existent most of the time with nearly every table boasting empty glasses throughout the meal. It makes you wonder how they make a profit when the food is so cheap yet they're seemingly not interested in making more money from drinks. On this visit, the drinks finally arrived after we had already finished the starters and I had to ask twice for mayonnaise, which eventually came after I'd almost finished my dish. For that reason, I have rated Zouk as 3.5 stars which is largely a reflection of the service, which is in dire need of improvement, as it's nowhere near the level you would expect from a restaurant serving such a high standard of food in expensive surroundings." - Ingun, Manchester - TRUSTED REVIEWER - (2/3/10 - visited on a Monday evening)

Trusted Reviewer "This is my fourth visit to Zouk and my second review (see below). I have to say they are consistently brilliant at delivering great food at unbeatable prices. The Scallops (£6.50) and Monk Fish (£14.50) just two of the highlights from the amazing seafood menu. Unfortuantely, on all four visits, they've also been consistently brilliant at delivering appalling service. Yes, it's friendly but there's no organisation and you can look around to see many diners getting agitated by the long wait for food, empty glasses and the hard-to-grab waiters. They need to take a leaf out of Akbar's book and employ one waiter to permanently oversee a designated area, passing instructions and orders to other waiters. The decor is very impressive, the ambience inviting and the food, for me, is up there with the best Indian restaurants in town. The curries contain plenty of meat and the speciality steaks, gourmet burgers and seafood selections are also highly recommended, whilst the prices are certainly amongst the best in town. It's a pity that the service, despite being friendly, really lets it down." - Matthew, Manchester - TRUSTED REVIEWER - (15/8/09 - visited on a Friday evening)

Trusted Reviewer "Mr B has never been a lover of this type of cuisine but agreed to give Zouk a go when shown the photos on Restaurants Of Manchester of the open kitchen. We visited on Sunday lunch time & were surprised to find at 1pm that we were the only guests - 2 other tables did arrive during our visit, but even so it was incredibly quiet. However we were told that there were heavy bookings for later so perhaps the Manchester Derby match had an impact on early visitors. However, that did mean that we got the pick of the tables and great personal attention. The decor is modern and attractive in muted tones of mushroom and cream with a great feature wall. The booths (for parties) and upstairs table would be our choice for an evening meal, so request these if you get the chance. The manager greeted us, selected our table and prepared it for us. As we walked past the kitchen the chefs greeted us too. We were immediately offered drinks and provided with menus. Guidance was given when requested and based on a few questions, insightful suggestions made to enhance our meal.

We kicked off with poppadums and pickles. These were perfect - spicy, crispy, freshly cooked and the mango chutney was well balanced - not too sweet. We're seafood lovers so Mr B started with the King Prawns which were certainly king in size and he declared them delicious - moist but spicy. I started with the Scallops which were gorgeous and an excellent price. One minor gripe, the salad garnish was a bit slap dash and didn't really add to the dish. Mr B followed with Lamb Handi accompanied by lemon rice. Despite having been a bit apprehensive (he's not a lover of this type of food), he thoroughly enjoyed it. My Chicken Karahi hit the mark and I was particularly pleased to see that my comment about loving ginger had been taken onboard. My Garlic & Coriander Naan was one of the best I've ever had and marital disharmony nearly ensued as Mr B decided it was a 'sharing' dish! I'm not a dessert lover but Mr B took the trip to view the selection and opted for a Mango Cheesecake with ice-cream. The portion was generous & he polished it all off - delicious being the verdict. Instead of dessert, I tried both the Turkish Delight Milkshake and Mango Lassi. The lassi was a clear winner. Whilst I liked the initial flavour of the milkshake, the whipped cream was overpowering and, in my humble opinion, unnecessary.

Unlike previous reviewers we found both the owner and waiter suitably attentive without being intrusive. We were regularly asked if we needed anything and our satisfaction with every dish was checked. Constructive suggestions for improvement (which in no way detract from a great meal & service) - they need seating at the bar for people waiting and we would have preferred the cleaner not to have been working in the restaurant while we were eating, albeit she wasn't in our area. The bill, when it came, was a pleasant surprise - £35 for food and £20 for drinks - excellent value. And perhaps the greatest compliment of all - Mr B has suggested we take friends there soon - I guess that means he's converted!" " - Melanie Bryan, Wigan - TRUSTED REVIEWER since 2008 - (11/5/09 - visited on a Sunday lunch)

Trusted Reviewer " First of all, can I thank Restaurants Of Manchester for not only introducing Zouk to me but for allowing me to win a free meal at the toss of a coin. And what a meal! We opted for the Scallops off the back of your review and would concur they're the best in town and certainly well priced at £7 (not that I paid) - the chargrilled Arabian Steak was incredibly delicious and again, had I paid, unbelievable great value at just £15. Served on a massive wooden board it came with loads of healthy veg and an extra portion of chips, which were probably not needed it was so big. Unfortunately they were all out of Sea Bass but the Salmon (also £10) more than made up for the initial disappointment. Portion sizes are disproportionately generous given the low prices (even if you lose the toss of a coin). The Seafood menu is certainly the best I've seen in town and even beats Livebait for choice, let alone quality and price! Desserts were all made fresh on the premises - the Tiramisu (£4) went down well and the Turkish Delight Milkshake (at a ridicously low £2.50) works just as well as a pudding as it does a drink. Talking about drinks, they must be the cheapest in town - Cobra is just £2.50 a pint as are the many fruit juices and milkshakes. For such a plush restaurant you'd expect to pay a lot more. My only gripe was that the service, whilst extremely friendly, was non-existent too often, especially as it was quiet at the time, and they could have made a lot more from us had they been quicker in replacing our empty glasses - particularly as we only ended up paying for drinks thanks to the toss of the coin. Even without the luck of the coin, I'll be rushing back to Zouk soon to try their curries. If they're as good as the grills they'll be seeing a lot more of me. Superb!" " - Matthew, Manchester - TRUSTED REVIEWER since 2003 - (4/5/09 - visited on a Friday evening)



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