This Christmas, the raved-about plant-based restaurant Bhaji Pala brings something new and exciting to the table with a stunning six-course vegan menu.
Ideal for dates, work events or a hearty December meal with an old friend, this is a set menu like nothing you’ve ever tried before.
The restaurant is based in Gatley, just a short train journey or quick car ride from Manchester city centre, and rest assured, it’s worth the trip.
The staff are a delight, brimming with knowledge about every single dish on the menu, and the venue manages to be both stylish and relaxed.
Of course, everything at Bhaji Pala is vegan, even the wine, so you can be confident of an entirely cruelty-free meal.
It’s billed as a six-course set menu, but there are a few extra little treats along the way.
The whole experience begins with a cute clay pot of nicely warmed mulled wine, packed with citrus, cinnamon and star anise flavours and a little hint of spice.
It’s sweet and moreish without being overpowering. Indeed, this is the key to everything on the menu at Bhaji Pala: balance.
It takes incredible skill to be so precise with flavour.
Next, the amuse-bouche, a bowl of Manchow soup.
This is an umami-heavy broth, full of Indo-Chinese flavours, rich in garlic, ginger and soy, topped with a sprinkle of crispy fried noodles.
It’s like a more complex and fascinating take on minestrone soup and an ideal opening course.
The dahi puri feel perfect for Christmas thanks to their delightful festive bauble look and feel.
They’re designed to be eaten in a single bite so the bright flavours explode in your mouth – be warned, any other way could prove messy.
The Brussels sprouts Manchurian are a revelation.
Nothing like those soggy sprouts you might have at school, these chunky vegetables are fried up with chopped spring onions and a rich, hot sauce that goes from sweet to sour, via countless delicious spices.
After a palate-cleansing shot of frozen mint lemonade, it’s time for the star attraction.
If you’re looking for the ultimate twist on a traditional Christmas dinner, this is it: a thick piece of seared tofu, high-quality and satisfying to the touch, covered with a creamy, makhani-style sauce.
This delicious red sauce is worth the price of admission alone, offering up a comforting mouthfeel and intense depth of flavour.
But the sides are a treat, too.
There’s a healthy mixture of green vegetables, including tender stem broccoli and half a dozen sprigs of asparagus, plus some crunchy, fluffy roast potatoes that are as good as any classic Christmas roasts.
The dessert option takes this sky-high quality and runs with it.
Billed as a fusion trio, it’s three tiers of different desserts, taking in traditional toffee pudding, carrot-based gajar halwa and vegan ice cream.
Our waiter is especially proud of this one, and he’s right to be – it’s easily the best vegan dessert available anywhere in Manchester right now.
It’s impossible not to be impressed by the imagination and craft that goes into a meal at Bhaji Pala.
Not only is it a wonderful place to kick back and relax, the food is as easy on the eye as it is the tastebuds.
If you’re tired of the same-old festive meals and want to switch to something healthier and more ethical this winter, this wonderful South Manchester restaurant has everything and more.