It might not feel like it, but spring isn’t far off. Jemima Forbes went along to the launch of Zouk’s new spring/ summer menu for an evening of cocktail making, wine tasting and tasty aromatic bites.
Created and opened by food-lover brothers Tayub and Mudassar Amjad, in 2009, Zouk Tea Bar and Grill just off Oxford Road is a modern and stylish twist on traditional Indian and Pakistani cuisine. With sharp interiors, a dedicated bar area and outdoor shisha lounge, Zouk is a welcoming and contemporary hub which bustling and lively every night of the week.
Created with the concepts of health, vitality, fun and passion in mind, Zouk expertly conveys these through their service, menus, décor, culture and vibe. Situated near the entrance, the bar area of Zouk is an ideal size for a small gathering with several tables and a stylish bar manned by Zouk’s expert cocktail makers.
It overlooks both the popular heated outdoor shisha lounge and the open kitchen area where you can watch and smell the delicious dishes being created. The new drinks menu that launches next month includes a range of cool champagne cocktails, summery long drinks, reimagined Martinis, sumptuous wines and tropical mocktails for those continuing the good habits of Dry January.
As well as some classic favourites, Zouk has managed to put an interesting Asian spin on many of the drinks and most are largely fruit based. The Chai Martini is a unique combination of vodka and Zouk’s home-made iced desi chai, and the Indian Party evoked the taste of summer with spiced gin, cucumber, lemon and passion fruit undertones.
If you are more of a fan of champagne, the new Romance cocktail is an innovative mix of champagne, rose petal liquor, Campari and fresh blueberries. Not just one for the girls, the Romance also received praise from most of the men at the launch, too!
Getting behind the well-stocked bar was a great experience and under the careful supervision of the head barman, I managed to create a passable version of the Passion cocktail, a tropical combination of vodka, mango, passionfruit and grenadine.
The mini wine tasting session was both enjoyable and highly informative as I got to taste some superb new additions to the menu and learn about what wines go best with certain dishes. The tasty nibbles included the classic poppadum box with accompanying chutneys and sauces, and a spicy and crispy samosa chaat which was well complemented by the refreshing cocktails.
If you fancy a bite to eat after sampling some exotic drinks, Zouk’s broad and exciting menu is influenced by the street markets of Lahore and traditional flavours of India. From signature dishes of Indian spiced meat to delicious lamb curries of varying heat, deciding what to try from the menu is a tough choice.
They also have a surprising amount of fish and seafood dishes including a seafood platter and a variety of starters including spiced calamari, salmon pakoras and king prawns. Zouk also serve up steaks, burgers and roasts inspired by a range of Asian and Middle Eastern flavours and traditions.
Head waiter, Flavio, knows the menu back to front and is always on hand with some great recommendations and tips to help you decide. The dessert menu also includes some Asian inspired classics like mango cheesecake as well as sumptuous favourites like chocolate fudge cake.
Zouk’s new drinks menu launches on March 1st and is the perfect excuse to celebrate the beginning of spring. Perhaps a new place for your after work drinks or to have a bite to eat with friends, Zouk should definitely be on everyone’s radar as a place to visit in Manchester. They also have a cookery school with dates throughout the year so you can learn how to make their amazing and healthy dishes yourself in their award-winning theatre kitchen.
Unit 5, The Quadrangle, Chester St, Manchester M1 5QS