Reviews - By customers and in the press

Dinner Detective, Metro News (28/11/2006) says....

THE trick in an Indian restaurant was once about getting the amount of food right.
Many is the time you would order far too much, that extra naan bread being the equivalent of Monty Python's wafer-thin mint.

Indeed as a student I would risk injury by forcing down that last bit of pilau because I knew I would surely be hungry at some point the next day. How many poppadoms? Four, six, eight? The focus was always on quantity, rather than quality.

Don't get me wrong, along Rusholme's curry mile and in the balti houses up and down our high streets there were tremendous meals to be had. But until I ate at Dilli, for me, it never reached the level of “cuisine”.

Dilli dispenses with the Anglicised tradition of a curry menu with various lists of variations combined with veg, meat or prawns and instead presents individual meals categorised as either vegetarian or non-vegetarian. And for the non-meat eater there is a tremendous selection. I counted 12 main courses without a hint of flesh.

Dilli also dispenses with the English notion of subcontinental food, specialising in “genuine vintage Indian cuisine” and shuns our versions with the madras at its centre. It is also the first Ayurvedic restaurant outside London. Healthy as well as tasty.

Dilli was full on our visit and, after a tour of the town centre looking for a parking spot, its low-key but tasteful interior – a mix of modern and traditional ethnic – was welcoming and billowing curtains at the front door kept out the November squalls. As we were seated, a Bentley parked on the double yellows right outside. The owner had a table. That's how to do it.

A basket of papads with small bowls of chutney came swiftly and the delicious raita was the colour of pea soup. To start we had a Vegetable Kebab Platter for two (£8.95), a couple each of stuffed paneer (hard cottage cheese), potato, peppers and mushrooms. I'll have to admit, I was a little disappointed.

The presentation was somewhat thrown together and, apart from the decent-sized blocks of sublime paneer, the stuffed veggies seem to blend into each other. I wish I'd had the carom flavoured garm flour batter fried fish.

But the main courses lived up the Dilli's reputation – which this year means a Michelin rating and a nomination in the Manchester Food And Drink Awards.

My Allepey Seafood Curry (£11.95) is a speciality of coastal southern India and was as colourful as a Kerala snake boat; the red saffron infused oil floating on a creamy coconut milk sauce, laced with the green leaves of herbs.

It all complemented the hunks of seafood perfectly and amazingly did not overwhelm the delicate flavour of the salmon, king prawn and couple of weighty scallops.

Opposite was a Hyderabadi Bhuna Ghosht (£9.25). A more fiery dish which still let you taste the subtleties of the sauce and lamb.

Rice (plain is all that is needed) adds a couple of pounds extra to each dish. Greedily we also shared a Dal Makhani (£4.25) as a side dish from the vegetarian menu.

A “black lentil delicacy incorporating fresh tomatoes and garlic, cooked overnight on charcoal, finished with cream and a dollop of butter”. It was even better than it sounded, with the sauce the consistency of melted chocolate.

I find wine is lost on most Asian food, but our dignified waiter, who oozed relaxed, cheerful charm, recommended a Pinot Grigio (£13.50) from the moderately-priced list.
With the 10 per cent service charge it all came to £71.28, which is about right for a quality restaurant.

The dessert menu is rather brief (I had an average kofti – £3.50), probably because at that point everyone's eaten more than enough. Even in a place of quality, quantity is always an issue.
Unlike restaurant reviews in some newspapers, the Dinner Detective eats out incognito and always pays for his meal. That way, the Dinner Detective gets the same treatment as the readers, giving an honest review of the service you might receive

CHEAPEST: Mixed Vegetable Pakora, £3.25.
MOST EXPENSIVE: Mussel Hara Masala, £4.95

CHEAPEST: Vegetable Biryani, £4.95.
MOST EXPENSIVE: Lobster Pepper Fry, £19.25

DESSERTS: £2.50 to £4

ANGELA KELLY, Metro News (28/11/2006) says....

Dilli's veggie good curries - if you ever thought vegetarian food was bland, think again.

That's the message from Indian food experts at award-winning Dilli restaurant, in Altrincham, where they are launching a new vegetarian menu as part of the Manchester Food And Drink Festival.

Recipes stretching from the Calcutta streets to a Hindu holy city are represented in the vintage starters, main courses, breads and desserts which aim to take vegetarian dining back to its roots and attract new fans.

Unsurprisingly, the restaurant has been nominated in MFDF's Awards for Best Provision for Vegetarians and Dilli's head chef Mohammed Naeem has also been nominated as Chef of the Year.

As Dilli's chef director Ravi Bajaj - whose 23 years experience in the food industry began in Bombay - states: "Many people tend to associate Indian food with rich meat dishes but original Indian cuisine is traditionally vegetarian.

"Meat was gradually introduced by the various nations that invaded the sub-continent over many centuries.

"It's never easy to cook meat dishes but it's far more difficult to produce a good vegetarian meal because the natural flavours are not as strong and a chef needs to concentrate even more on taste, colour and freshness."

The menu's Calcutta street food is Singhara Chaat, a Bengali shortcrust samosa starter, served with spiced chick peas, topped with cumin-flavoured yoghurt and chutneys. And its Aloo Dum Benaresi - a main dish of baby potatoes cooked in a piquant, well-fried masala - comes from the Hindu holy city of Benares on the banks of the Ganges.

Today (Friday), the restaurant was hosting a menu launch party, with Trafford Council, at the Farmers' Market, in Altrincham.

And tomorrow, chef Naeem will be sharing his secrets with the general public when he gives a demonstration of Indian cookery, with a commentary by Ravi, in Manchester's Albert Square.

The Dilli team will be back there again on Wednesday, October 11, to Sunday, October 15, from 11.30am to 9pm, when they will be cooking Aloo Tikki "street food" for visitors to the open-air International Food Court.

Dilli, 60 Stamford New Road, Altrincham, Cheshire WA14 1EE
Tel: 0161 929 7484/0161 927 9219

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