I keep going to Indian restaurants and asking, "what's the spiciest thing you've got?"
I always leave disappointed.
Blame it on the years of Mexican food I've been grubbing on, or the jalapeno-stuffed goodies I had as a kid. Blame the various salsas and dips filled to the brim with delicious chiles. I love spicy food. I want to sweat, I want to tear up just a bit - but I want delicious flavour as well. I'm on a journey to find the best spicy food Manchester has to offer.
I walked into Lal Qila and asked my normal question. The response was, "the vindaloo, of course." Yes, of course...but this was something I've heard before and it's never been spicy enough for me. I turned to our waiter, "this is something I've heard before and it's never been spicy enough for me," repeating my inner monologue. I could see his eyes turn from friendly to judgemental. What's this white boy thinking? Judgemental turned to vengeful. If he wants spicy, I'll give him spicy! "Our vindaloo is spicier than what a lot of places make," his smile and friendly demeanour covering his obvious disdain. "We make vindaloo the right way here, but I can make it spicier for you if you'd like." His challenge stung through the air. I was with friends, I was tipsy, and there was no turning back.
I waited a few minutes, half worried that I was going to be brought a glowing radioactive dish filled with nothing but habaneros and ghost chiles. Fortunately, when the vindaloo arrived, I could see that there were loads of chiles in it, but it wasn't overdone. A bite in - wow, there's the flavour! Spicy, hot, but a background of delicious vindaloo and tenderly cooked meat. Now THIS is the vindaloo I've been searching for!
I scarfed down every last bite, soaking up all the leftover goodness I could with some rice. I'm very happy I came here and gave it a try - their spicy vindaloo is finally the prefect dish that I've been looking for all this time!
Oh, the atmosphere is nice, and the staff are friendly, sure...but c'mon, you're coming here for the spice, right? That's not just me, I'm sure!
3.5 stars from me. I used to be a regular here, before I moved into town. Last Saturday I was back for the first time in years.
It's much the same. Very busy, very popular. This is the "classic" Rusholme experience, vimto lollies, dodgy decor, and all. But it remains one of the better choices along a strip whose fame far outstrips its gastronomic quality.
The Gosht Puri was a nicely tasty starter, and none of the dishes were too troubled by the grease that plagues much of the curry mile.
If there's one word my curry connoisseur friends associate with Lal Qila, it's inconsistency. I've only been the once and my experience was a standard three stars, just fine and dandy, no Meg Ryan orgasmic 'I'll have what she's having' noises over the taste of the food, simply enough to fill a gap, fun for groups, Bring Own Booze and a rather tacky experience considering the exterior looks like something you'd find in Vegas and the innards offer that classic dated curry hut decor.
But I've got to take into account the myriad opinions I've heard over the years. Reports of bad waiters, sloppy service, downright rudeness... this just doesn't wash with a seasoned Yelper like myself. My job is to warn you that dining at Lal Qila is something of a Russian roulette experience. Be careful. Don't always expect the best. It's certainly accumulated enough success to open up similar branches elsewhere in the North West but for every great meal you have there, there'll be other people complaining about something.
This might make it exciting, or tiresome, depending on how dangerous you want to be. Otherwise Lal Qila pretty much does your standard, run of the mill curry hut classics. It doesn't have any particular quirks thus it doesn't necessarily stand out amongst the neon lights of Rusholme, but as three-star achievers go it's worth popping in to fill a gap.
Let me set the scene for you: Rusholme. Lal Qila, an Indian restaurant. There is low lighting. Your dining companion may be quite attractive I don't know. Anyway, the food is nice enough but not anything special plus there are no surprises on the menu but you don't mind. The tables have white tablecloths on with plastic diamonds on the top. It is tacky in a sweet way.
What could happen next to disturb this dream, to burst your bubble of contentment? Waiters that are so dismissive it borders on rude. And that is (almost) the only thing you remember from the whole Lal Qila experience. Shame.
The Curry Mile is a wilderness. Untameable, unknowable wilderness. However, there is the odd clearing. One of these is found in Lal Qila. I was first taken to this restaurant by friends for lunch, and was very pleasantly surprised. One of the most refreshing things about this restaurant is the clear, crisp, modern décor. Gone are the traditional fringed drapes and heavy oil paintings of elephants - Lal Qila is minimalist and simple, and does very well from it.
The food, in contrast, is by no means minimal, or simple. It is some of the best Indian food I have eaten in Manchester, second only to the EastZEast family. The food is fantastic. Fresh, flavoursome and plentiful - just what the doctor ordered. Pleasantly, for Indian food, there is a noticeable lack of grease and oil on the top of the dishes, which makes you feel somewhat better about tucking in, and there is no order too complicated or difficult for the welcoming and friendly staff.
The best thing about Lal Qila is that the restaurant has happily found the medium between quality and price, and for that reason, I could not recommend it enough. It is a lovely restaurant to eat in, and the food is superb, so the next time you pass through Rusholme, take a look in and grab a bite to eat!
I go to this restaurant for one thing.. their LAMB NIHARI. Wow, out of this world. Very, very authentic (trust me on this).
This dish is cooked so well, it's what distinguishes it from all the other restaurants in Rusholme.
I've tried this dish in other restaurants in Rusholme and none were even close; some literally inedible.
Lal Qila = Nihari !!
There's something to be said about a restaurant that is successful enough to advertise on the Manchester bus fleet. I'm not sure about their recent refurbishment as it kind of looks like a Disney theme palace now, but that doesn't detract from the quality of the food.
The great thing about Lal Qila is that it stays true to traditional Pakistani cuisine, it's drier and hotter and less Anglo-sized for which it's won a legion of accolades. The last time I went I tried the Machli Masala Dupiaza (salmon marinated with ginger, garlic, spices, deep fried then cooked with onions, tomatoes and coriander in a bhuna style sauce) which was heaven on a plate. My friend went for the full Lobster in spices for a very reasonable £15. That's what I love about this place, they haven't got your run of the mill ingredients and they make fish taste delectable.
I feel bad for Sophie, she obviously caught a waiter on an off night, I've had only good experiences. Perhaps they were particularly busy that night but I guess that isn't an excuse.
Lal Qila is one of those curry houses which is rather hard to miss, with its bright red and yellow signage emblazoned on the front and bright, gaudy interior shining out like a beacon through the windows. My memories of it are all derived from medic's curry nights, which bends them in a rather unique perspective, but are nonetheless pleasant ones.
The interior design is nice and polished, if a little over-the-top, and from my experience the waiters seem eager to please. The medic's nights would always take place on the top floor, where we would invariably run out of room and end up pushing an unlucky few back down with the oiks below. They would also tend to devolve into raucous affairs of dancing on the tables, chairs, and anything else within easy reach. The fact that the waiters stoically stood by and let this happen is pretty cool really.
As I remember it, the food was excellent, and well worth the visit. I'm not sure about the pricing, since we got a group package cost made up for us each time. I'd certainly visit again though, without the horde this time.
Lal Qila was the first curryhouse on 'the mile' that I visited. This was for a course social in the first week of my first year of university. The girls I had made friends with became a little too excited about the BYOB policy and brought along a bottle of vodka. They didn't actually make it past freshers' week and I never saw them again.
As the other reviewers say, Lal Qila is perfect for large groups of students, but I've also taken my family here and had a perfectly acceptable meal.
Acceptable being the operative word. The food is standard Indian fare with standard prices. Last time I checked the menu and prices were identical to those of Al Nawaz across the road.
I would visit Lal Qila again, but would be much more inclined to visit Mughli where the food does not taste as mass produced, there is no hassle from the staff and you are far more unlikely to encounter groups of pissed up students with bottles of vodka!
As with most restaurants on the curry mile, it is always worth hanging around outside for a few minutes, so that the waiters come out and promise you free poppadoms and a 10% discount if you choose their restaurant over its neighbours!
Time and again you will be told that there are fifty-two curryhouses on this here curry mile. This means that it's possible to sample a different one each week for a year. Few achieve this, I'll wager. The vast majority of people find a favourite and simply frequent this one, resorting to a further one or two when a change is desired or required. And, like Genesis or Yo La Tengo albums, generally speaking, this "favourite" will be the very first one ever attended.
You see, whilst I'm sure that there are some along this stretch which are worse than others, I'm not entirely convinced that there are any which represent the ultimate, as it were. There's no "best". Any one has the potential to offer as much joy or misery as any other. So get out there! Experiment! Go to a different one each week for a year. You'll have a great time.
Lal Qila, though, stands out in a couple of ways. First, I am drawn to the gaudiness of the sign on the exterior - all neon knights and turrets. Second, at the end of the meal, when bringing the bill, they give you these little pink and orange sweets. Yes.
Lal qila makes up the restaurant force of the Curry Mile and makes a good share of it.
It is not heavily decorated and is minimilistic in its approach. The food is great too, with the perfrect blend of spices and not too spicy. Though sometimes they can go a bit too mild, but if you prefer mild then it's great for you! The staff is kind and helpful. It's not too expensive and is perfect if you want a dinner with a huge group. Sometimes if you order alot, they can also arrange a discount (sweet-talking helps!).
Good place, but I think Punjab along the road has better Indian food! Though this place can acommodate more!
For me this is a good option along the curry mile. I've got to be honest though and say that its not one of the best.
Its not right in the middle, as its better than most, but there are a few that i consider to be considerably better. Thus, if you are reading this review, which i am guessing you are, and you're thinking of Rusholme for your curry, i would suggest checking out Punjab, The Village, and Spicy Hut before you settle on this one.
Also, there's a new curry house open on Deansgate calling itself The Original Lal Qila. Not sure if these guys have noticed, buy these lot are certainly more original than the new Original Lal Qila, as they were here first.
Curries are good, and buxom. Prices are not bad either. The naans are noticably fresh which is important.
I just have to say that in all criteria, you can so slightly better elsewhere.
Decent curry at decent prices.
With so much choice on the curry mile this is a good balance on quality vs price.
large of large group tables which is good as I only ever head to wimmy road with a crowd
I like BYOB
I have tried a few different dishes and they have all been decent... nothing to avoid so far!
Lal Qila is one of my favourite restaurants of the curry mile. I always had good experiences there, the food was always great and the service attentive. Prices were pretty reasonable too. I guess at this point I should note that i'm talking about experiences from a good 6 or so years ago.
One particular time I remember bringing my parents. No sooner had we sat down than they had placed a pile of poppadoms and some chuntneys on the table. They then asked for our drinks order, and promptly came back with the drinks - this was well within 5 minutes of entering the place.
We ordered food, it came in about 10 minutes, we finished, payed the bill and we ready to leave within about 30 minutes of entering. Now while this may be a little too fast for a nice sit-down meal, we could have been slower. It was our choice to be in and out so fast, and it's nice to find a place with service good enough to allow the option...
I went to 'Lal Qila' for the first time last night and I thought although the Curries weren't the best I've had but the service was best I've ever had. The popadoms and chutneys were put on the table as soon as we arrived and drinks orders taken. We were in and out within 45mins.
All round a good experience.
By far my favorite curry house on the curry mile! The food was beautiful and the service was exceptional. It was reasonably priced too and a bottle of wine was only £7.
I have eaten at Lal Qila about 5 times now, and the thing that keeps me coming back are their lovely Peshwari Naans and the Lamb Ginger curry. Although the waiters are not as overly friendly as those at similar restaurants, I do appreciate (and once again, this is coming from the point of view of another waitress) that you are left alone to eat your meal with no interruptions, rather than being bothered every 5 minutes with waiters making sure you're okay.
The nice thing about Lal Qila, then, is the fact that as soon as you arrive, you're given the poppadoms and chutney to munch on as you peruse the menu, just to whet the appetite. I do feel strongly how much I need to stress that the food does NOT, in fact, take 45 minutes to come; my food has always arrived within 20 minutes and is always of a great quality.
I have always enjoyed my meals at Lal Qila, and now always seek it out as I particularly enjoy the lamb ginger curry which is not offered at its competitors. The food is of good quality and the staff just attentive enough. A solid all-rounder.
Lal Qila (The Red Fort, if you've ever wondered) is located in the middle of Manchester's Curry Mile.
I've been here a few times and I feel it is a VERY inconsistent place. The food can vary between some of the best curry you've had (the butter chicken is excellent) and downright awful (a garlic naan does NOT have to be literally stuffed with garlic thankyouverymuch!). The waiters aren't particularly attentive, its sometimes a struggle to get another drink, even if you ask numerous times and the place isn't that busy.
Rusholme has plenty of other curry houses better than this one, approach with extreme caution!
The likes of curry houses like lal qila are very good at doing one thing. If a sea of pissed up students or any other groups flood the place they can deal with it very very well. I myself sat to one of these groups, the staff are efficient and they'll sort some variety of deal for you and the group so the table is flooded with food and you hand over your tenner at the end of the night. Other experiences when I've been less mashed have been inconsistent though, I've been served gorgeous sizzling dishes one night and soggy poppadoms other nights (it's not hard to get them right is it? I thought you just took it out of the fryer). Again as seems to be a recurring theme on the curry mile the curry house is a mixed bag, and you never know what you're going to get. Try the lamb ginger curry.
Lal Qila is situated on Wilmslow Road Manchester and as i went to University in Manchester it seems I have tried every place on the curry mile but this is by far the best. House wine £7 a bottle and gorgeous! Food never greasy and always hot, can recommend the chefs special traditional lamb karahi, lamb chops in tomato sauce with freshly chopped corriander. Great place for kids too, last time me and my daughter went she was given free ice-cream!!
Must admit that although the Curry Mile get's a kicking for being average at best, Lal Qila is amongst a handful that stands out for service and food. Mostly old school restaurants in Rusholme offering decent fare at very decent prices, it nevertheless is worth a trip there once in a while - just for the shear spectacle of it all. They say real Mancunians don't eat here, but come night time (and into the early hours of the following day) the place has a vibrancy of it's own.
Lal Qila do a very good Jal Freza (and you can ask to make it hotter should you wish). Like most restaurants along the mile, the moment you've sat down you'll find a 4 foot high plate of poppadums and associated dips. Add a pint of Cobra to that and you're away.
Also it has to be noted they are absolutely fantastic with kids (of all ages). Some restaurants (mainly the chains it has to be said) treat young children like Victorian street urchins, but here they're made a fuss of (and of course the obligatory mints/lollipops help).
Went here Aug 2010 and there's been a lot of mixed reviews. However, we arrived and were seated quickly. The decor was nice and all the staff were really friendly. We ordered a veggie dansak or pathia and it definately wasn't that, more like a veggie korma. We'd just travelled 4 hours and were so hungry we didn't complain, it was yummy though. Liked the way we were given a hot flannel, thought it was a sweet at first!
My experience was almost identical to that of saralouise. Two friends and I went on a Friday night around 8:30pm, which shouldn't have made any difference. As with the others, our popodoms and chutneys were on the table immediately. I knew what I going to order even before I opened the menupanir tikka masala with garlic naan, so we were ready to order within five or ten minutes and did. Our drinks came right away. However, our food did not arrive for 45 MINUTES. There were many empty tables by this point and most of the dinner crowd had waned away. When my food finally arrived, I was very disappointed in the curry. Firstly, it looked awful. Every panir tikka I've ever eaten has been orange. This was bright red. Ok, so it means they added a ton of chili powder right? That could be fine. When I tasted it, it turned out to be just food colouring. There was hardly any flavor at all, besides a slight bitterness.
The naan was good, however, and the server was very nice during out interactions. For me, it ultimately comes down to the main course, though.
I would say that this is the best place to eat on the curry mile, there is lots of choice on the menu and the quality of food is good. The only thing that let me down a bit was the service, they wernt very attentive and took a long time to take our order but apart from that it was good
Went for a meal tonight, waited 50mins for food to arrive and was told this was due to parties. Sauces were all the same and tasted similar. Small portions. Ended up with cheese in potato and onion nan and have a dairy allergy. The manager pulled it apart and said there was only a little cheese in there and the rest was ok. Dispite not eating the nan, was still charged. Not recommended.
lal qilla is very good indian curry restaurant for any one who likes curry . the food here is very much authentic and is greatly prepared with great care .The ambience is quite modern and luxurious personally i would have loved it to be bit rustic and some indian theme but its just me anyway the food and drinks are very good you should try the indian beer they serve here its quite good .overall its quite good and i would recommend it.
is this place on the curry nation uk discount site? would like to save some money as eat here fairly often!