Scene Manchester has been open for just over six months now and it’s probably one of the few Indian places in the country (yes, country) I would recommend. You see, as I have a fabulously talented Indian cook for a mother, there are a very small number of Indian restaurants I actually enjoy. As most Indians will probably tell you – nothing ever tastes as good as home.
So, why all those months ago was I excited to visit Scene? In all honesty, it wasn’t the food that I was looking forward to. I expected that to be like every other curry house, but for once I was happy to see an Indian restaurant invest in some well thought out interior design. Not the usual contemporary clean lines, white table cloths, coloured accents-style either – it was a scheme heavily influenced by, you guessed it, India.
Walking in, it was the little details that started catching my eye; the Bollywood movie posters, bright colours against muted tones, the traditional pots and pans strategically placed on larder shelves.
Turning the corner into the main seating area is actually a nice surprise. There’s a beautiful painting of Agra station, lots of funky well placed graffiti and be sure to look up and take in the Asian museum balancing above the diners.
The floor area to the left is broken up by a canopied dining space, designed for parties and large groups – delicately lit and framed perfectly for a special occasion.
Past the open kitchen windows there are a series of booths, the design of them based on Bombay street shacks, albeit these are pretty luxurious versions, with soft furnishings and mood lighting. I love it when a restaurant makes interesting use of its seating areas.
The first thing that shocked me once we’d settled into our seats, is the vast choice available on their one sheet menu. All four of us were pretty overwhelmed at the minefield of plates on offer. Luckily, the menu is split into different sections, which meant as a group of four, we could get creative. I should point out, Scenes menu is inspired by Indian, Pakistani and South Asian cuisine – a culmination of some of the greatest tastes to be found on the Asian sub continent.
Safe to say we steered clear of the usual staples and instead ordered a selection of dishes we’d never tried before to taste and share, as well as a couple of recommendations from those in the know (the staff of course).
We went through a lot of food that evening. Some – as good as expected but most – turned out to be totally delicious. There were some serious stand out favourites:
The chicken Malai was a chefs recommendation, a dish we never would have picked but it ended up being one of Mo’s favourites. Succulent pieces of chicken spiced with ginger and even though it isn’t served in sauce, it wasn’t at all dry. I loved the Samosa chaat – again a dish I never thought much of but this poppadom bowl of Chana and spice was refreshing and moreish with just the right amount of spice. The lamb chops came out piping hot, super tender and the meat literally dripped off the bone, perfect.
The one problem with ordering a mountain of food is that we had absolutely no space left for dessert. We did have time for a quick relax on the shisha veranda, where the coals and desi chai kept us warm. Our waiter outside was just as helpful and attentive as the ones we had on the inside, continuity is essential in these parts.
In a city that is highly saturated with Indian cuisine (heck we have a whole mile stretch dedicated to them!) its nice to finally have a restaurant that is raising its standard and not just relying on the fact that most people love a good curry.
Its individual interiors and street concept create a vibrant relaxing atmosphere that’s great for an evening with friends in the City, and although it’s got all the elements of a high end establishment, there’s no pretentiousness here.
Is it as good as mums? Pfft don’t be daft! (Don’t worry mum – nothing ever will be) but Scene is definitely the closest I’ll get. A perfect all-rounder for when we’re after a bit of comforting home style food with a glamorous touch.
Scene Indian Street Kitchen
4a Leftbank, Irwell Square, Manchester, M3 3AN
Reservations/Enquiries: 0161 839 3929
Takeaway Order: 0161 839 3929
I’ve heard the Chapli kebabs are a must try, any other recommendations? What did everyone else think of the new addition to Spinningfields?