Deanna Thomas finds out whether the Knutsford branch is worth the train fare
By now, most Confidential readers will be familiar with Mughli; the contemporary, social media embracing, second generation Curry Mile restaurant. Obviously this sort of thing is standard now, but Mughli was one of the first Indian restaurants to steam off the flock wallpaper and refresh their menu by adding the kind of street food dishes you might find in most cities across the continent. But how many readers realise they have another branch in Knutsford?
Hundreds of Manchester-based blog entries have been devoted to the Rusholme Mughli’s Indian Soul Food. We’ve reviewed it twice; our publisher Gordo gave it a respectable 15.5/20 in 2012, while I wasn’t too far off that in July 2015. We even went over to Alderley Edge to review their pop-up-that-turned-out-to-be-permanent, Railway Café, but for some reason Mughli’s Cheshire-based sister has barely collected any column inches.
Is that because it doesn’t match up to the popular Rusholme branch, or because bloggers are generally unwilling to make the journey over the Cheshire border?
Knutsford’s Mughli is behind a plainish, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it façade on the lower main street of the split-level picturesque town. Inside it’s whiter than its Rusholme sibling – that’s not a socio-political commentary on geographical racial profiling, I mean it’s been decked out with white bench seating, white bar stools, chairs, walls, ceiling and tables. Softening the space-age look, there’s a wall of bamboo running down one side of the restaurant. We were sat at the front by the window, but it got darker the deeper you went, if that’s more your atmospheric choice.
Knutsford’s menu differs slightly from the more student-friendly, ‘we’re cool we are’ Curry Mile branch, but there’s the same heavy emphasis on wet sales. Mughli’s wine list has had more than a bit of thought put into it and there’s a whole cocktail menu devoted to the fact that gin and tonic was invented in India. Chilli Ginger Beefeater with kaffir lime leaves, green chilli and ginger ale was a warming and refreshing combination, but at a whopping £8.70, it’s a pretty safe bet to conclude that booze plays a huge part in keeping the business afloat.
In regard to food, Mughli’s difference is its strength. Here, you’ll find dishes with more unusual ingredients. Well ok, asparagus and beetroot aren’t exactly unusual, but when was the last time you saw them on a curry house menu?
Mughli has consistently gained favour with food-lovers thanks to careful spicing and no cutting of corners. Starter portions are on the generous side. The well-flavoured lamb in the Seekh Kebab (£5) had a superior texture thanks to it having been ground rather than minced and popcorn prawns (£4.50) saw five plump meaty crustaceans coated in a subtly spiced light batter. We always get grilled lamb chops (£7 for 3) by way of means testing and they didn’t let us down.
We ordered Tata Parata (£6) simply because we’d never heard of it before. It’s got bugger all to do with potatoes by the way. They offer a version with masala chicken, but we went veggie with pan-fried paneer on a toasted paratha. Despite it looking like (forgive me) a regurgitated pavement pizza, it tasted delicious; like a chewier and spicier scrambled egg on toast. It would make a first class breakfast dish.
We went a bit rogue on the main courses, leaving room for side dishes and sundries. Out of a stellar looking line-up of curries, king prawn chennai (£10.50) with mustard seeds, kashmiri red chilli and lemon, balanced gentle heat, background sourness and clever spicing with no sign of that oil slick you get on top of more inferior, mass produced curry sauces.
Pickled beet and quinoa (£7) salad was a bit of a disappointment I’m afraid. It was like one of those well-intentioned Instagrammable salads you make on a Sunday night, but by Wednesday are sick of eating. It had been mixed too early so all the flavours melded into one and the whole thing had been bullied by chopped dill. Fortunately my dinner was saved by one of the nicest sag paneers I’ve ever eaten (£5) and a comforting cheese naan I wanted to roll myself up in.
A two-course dinner for four with additional side bits and bobs came to a reasonable £75 with a wince-worthy £23 added on for drinks (a glass of wine, one G&T, three Cokes) but the speciality gins are worth a go.
The Knutsford Mughli is certainly worth a visit. The food is just as good as it is in Rusholme, the atmosphere is pleasant, the surroundings all cobbled streets and bunting, and although it’s much further out of Manchester, you can simply get a train from Piccadilly, work your way through the gin menu and walk off the calories in Tatton Park.
Mughli Bar and Kitchen, 44-46 King St, Knutsford WA16 6DT Tel: 01565 631010
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself)
Seekh kebab 8, popcorn prawn 8, paneer parata 8, lamb chops 8, king prawn Chennai 8, beetroot quinoa 4, sag paneer 8, cheese naan 8
Nothing was too much trouble
Cool, contemporary, well thought out but not too try-hard