Jonathan Schofield and the tale of the spicy haggis and chirpy chop
Roti is Manchester’s first Indian/Scottish restaurant. It may well be Britain’s first Indian/Scottish restaurant. I’m not absolutely certain, but Confidential has no category for this brave new style, so we’ve had to shoehorn it into Indian. I am afraid to say there’s no Scottish category on Confidential either, (sorry Ms Sturgeon) so it couldn't go there.
I was left covered in sloppy food, like an overgrown baby in a high-chair after a bowl of porridge
More about the food later, first let’s discuss the fit-out of this Chorlton opening which is as sharp as a pin and about as small. The main feature is an absolutely glorious mural which turns out to be customised wallpaper. It’s vivid, colourful and drags the eye. It reminded of a children’s book I’d had, which had the same colours and showed scenes from around the world. The Roti Indian cityscape gives a nod to its host town with a Barlow Moor Road street sign and some Manchester bees. Who’d have thought? Bees. I also felt attached to the impressive man over my table with his fine whiskers and sunglasses.
So what is Scottish about the tiffin-tin delivered food? Well, I give you haggis pakora, mince and tatties, and the Indian Scottish egg - along with lots of other dishes with no apparent MacMenu link. The restaurant labels the latter Scotch egg, 'Manc', but I’m not having that, the recipe is more Scottish, with its chaat lamb coat. In the end what is a Manc egg really? The mince and tatties is labelled ‘as Scottish as it gets’.
I had the haggis with spicy batter (£5). It doesn’t get better for comfort food. There were several generous balls of a lovely lightly battered haggis, filled with the fecund richness and taste of the inner organs of sheep. I could easily eat these out of a bag on a cold day while watching a match.
The haggis had been preceded by popadoms and dips for £4. The dips had been tipped all over the popadoms. The result was a delicious mess heated by spices and chillis, cooled by yoghurt. It reminded me of Almost Famous burgers which require the use of at least five napkins and a full shower after tussling with one. I was left covered in sloppy food, like an overgrown baby in a high-chair after a bowl of porridge.
The pick of the mains were without doubt the superb lamb chops (£8). These had been left overnight in a 'Kashmiri marinade’. The flavour was rich, the flesh tender, enhanced by a judicious blackening at the grill. The chops came on some cracking masala potatoes. All fabulous.
Like me you might want to leave the coleslaw, though.
There is nothing wrong with Roti's coleslaw as such, aside from my personal prejudice. I hate coleslaw like I hate rocket leaves. When I rule the world, there will be two laws. People will have to have some goddam knowledge of history before they talk politics to me, and that half-food coleslaw will be banned. Maybe it’s the memory of salads and sandwiches in sad Dales’ teashops on family outings, but coleslaw is dead to me.
Spicy chicken wings (£5.50) came in a sticky marinade and were a disappointment. They were a little dry and there wasn’t enough of the sweet sauce at the bottom of the bowl. The Goan machi curry (£6.50), spiced and pan fried, seemed to have gained lots of unadvertised cubed potatoes, yet it was very good, delicate almost, and characterful in its gathering of flavours.
The gulab jamun was one of the best £3 puddings I’ve recently had. These milky doughnut-type concoctions were soaked in a sort of apple sauce and were simply delicious. I don’t have a sweet tooth particularly, but you could eat those until the sacred cows came home.
Roti is a cracking little addition to Chorlton and a labour of love. I wish the place well and I encourage people to try it, after all this Indian Scottish combo is unique in the city. Also you get a discount if you wear both a turban and a kilt on any visit. Maybe ask about this prior to rocking up, I might have misheard, or even made it up.
Roti Food & Liquor, 559 Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton, Manchester. M21 8AN
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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.
Popadums 6.5, Haggis 7.5, fish 6, lamb 7.5, chicken wings 5.5, gulab jamun 8
You feel very well looked after
Colourful and intimate