Jasmine Grill is one of a kind. This Turkish-Lebanese restaurant takes traditional Middle Eastern cuisine and lifts it to the level of fine-dining, employing high-quality ingredients and innovative ideas to create inspired dishes that you won’t find anywhere else.
Based on Richmond Street, a few steps back from Manchester Crown Court, it’s a beautiful venue, all sparkling ornaments and tasteful gold fittings.
It’s just a year old but already feels like an established fixture on the city’s food scene, with outstanding word-of-mouth from Manchester’s food-lovers.
And this is for one reason: the incredible food. Each dish has been designed and perfected by head chef Alex, who was born in Syria and went on to polish his culinary skills at high-end locations around the UK, before taking the helm at Jasmine Grill.
Practically all online feedback for Jasmine Grill raves about Alex, and it’s not hard to see why – the passion he has for his restaurant and the food he creates comes across from the moment you walk through the door.
We begin with platters of hot and cold starters, plus a basket of freshly baked bread. All the classics are here, including thick slices of hot salty halloumi, powerfully-spiced sujok sausage, chicken wings coated with the most mouthwatering sauce this side of an Istanbul souk, and a handful of delightful cheese bouraks – homemade Lebanese pastries, packed with creamy, tangy feta cheese.
Each element complements the other, boasting a whole range of evocative flavours and spices, plus crunchy, fresh vegetables to cleanse the palate.
The cold starters are a great counterpoint, light and fresh and perfect for these hot summer days. All the Middle Eastern favourites are here, prepared with incredible attention to detail, such as red pepper hummus, baba ghanoush, tzatziki and more, all surrounding a spiral of finely sliced tomato.
It’s a bright, delicious selection, and the quality of the ingredients comes through with every mouthful.
The platter of meats from the grill is darker and more aromatic, a selection of different styles of lamb and chicken, chargrilled to provide that beautiful charcoal smokiness. Here’s where Alex’s creative side comes out, with a host of innovative ideas that elevates each dish into something you won’t find anywhere else.
The barbeque smoked rice is a dream side dish for these heavy meats, yellow rice infused with a gentle hint of smoke from being cooked on the grill.
The chunks of chicken are more tender than any I’ve tried before, with a subtle sweetness that merges with the Middle Eastern spices; this is due to the marinade containing a small number of strawberries and raspberries, just enough to add a certain mysterious element that you’ll remember fondly long after you leave.
Then there’s the cheese sausage, a combination of lamb and generous amounts of cheese, coated with a spiral of different types of cheeses – something I haven’t tried anywhere else, but haven’t stopped thinking about since.
For dessert, Alex creates a strawberry, raspberry and cream gateaux. Fresh, creamy and the ideal way to end such a varied and intoxicating meal, it combines sponge cake with tart, red berries, and tops the whole thing off with two sky-high chocolate straws stuck through it.
Skip the diet, this dessert is worth it.
And it’s not just food. Jasmine Grill has a well-stocked bar with an expert cocktail waiter at the helm. The mocktails here are many levels above most you’d find in Manchester – beautifully-crafted, colourful fruit-based concoctions that are worth the visit alone.
This month it’s all even better value than ever thanks to the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which means 50% off food and soft drinks (up to £10 per person) every Monday-Wednesday.
When it comes to Middle Eastern cuisine, Jasmine Grill is above and beyond its near rivals, by some measure.
An evening here will introduce you to a whole world of fascinating ideas based around Turkish and Lebanese food, not to mention charming staff, a beautiful venue and some of the most memorable dishes in all of Manchester.