I’ve written before about my favourite Indian restaurants in Manchester. Last time I focused on eastZeast but Akbar’s received a mention as one of my top 3. Following a recent visit after the Manchester 10K I felt that it deserved a post of its own.
Akbar’s are obviously used to catering for large groups. We (a party of 16) were allocated a waiter who looked after us while we were there. He recommended ordering a set menu, which made things easier for us, and no doubt for the kitchen as well. A variety of dishes were laid out on the table to share, giving us a chance to sample them all.
Starters included Seekh Kebabs (tender minced lamb with onions, herbs, fresh coriander and green chillies cooked over charcoal), Chicken Tikka (boneless chicken marinated in yoghurt, herbs and spices, cooked over charcoal), Onion Bhajis and a potato cake.
I love marinated chicken so this was easily my favourite. The Onion Bhajis were spicy and warming on the tongue; tasty but I felt that the spiciness overpowered the flavours of the other dishes.
It was a good opportunity to sample a variety of starters. If you dine out as a couple it’s easy to order too much food if you feel adventurous and want to try a bit of everything. I guess it’s ok to do that in a restaurant but I can’t bear to see lots of food go to waste.
Main courses were Chicken Balti (tender chicken cooked with fresh ginger, onions, tomatoes, capsicums and chillies to a general Baltisan taste), Lamb Handi (cooked on the bone in traditional Punjabi style, in a thick rich dry sauce using green chillies and a blend of spices, garnished with lemon and fresh coriander), Chicken Tikka Masala (chicken breast marinated in yoghurt, herbs and spices, cooked over a charcoal grill, then pot roasted with ginger, garlic, onions, tomatoes, with a sprinkling of coriander) and Vegetable Mix (mixed vegetables cooked with onions, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, ginger and green chillies).
I don’t have much to say about the mains if I’m honest. I like to try something different depending on where I am eating so it was a little disappointing, although understandable, to have a selection that was clearly chosen to appeal to the majority. Akbars does offer a wide and tasty selection of more unusual dishes, so it pays to be adventurous if you are there with a smaller group.
All this came served with the giant, family sized naan breads that Akbars are known for, as well as generous helpings of Pilau Rice.
Having a waiter in charge of our table was really helpful for ordering drinks or for dealing with any questions that we had. He also organised a birthday dessert complete with indoor firework for one of our party.
Securing a table
Akbar’s is a busy restaurant so it can get a bit noisy. It’s not a place for cozy dining, but it does have a buzz about it and it’s very popular.
As a party of 16 I was able to book a table for the Sunday night. You can’t book for less than 10 people so be prepared to wait if you are a small group. It can be a bit of a gamble, particularly at the weekend.
There’s seating in the bar area, which can also get pretty crowded. I would suggest heading over early-ish (at least before you are desperate to eat), putting your name down for a table and being prepared to head for a drink, somewhere like the Oxnoble (which is a stones throw away in the direction of Deansgate) while you wait.
I would highly recommend Akbar’s, particularly if you are dining as a large group. It makes sense to order a set menu and what it lacked in variety was made up for in convenience. Everyone was happy with their meal, and when you are serving 16 people the same thing, I think that’s saying something.
Akbar’s: 73-83 Liverpool Road, Manchester, M3 4NQ, Tel:0161 834 7222
Apologies for the lack of, and poor quality, photos. It’s pretty dark in the restaurant, and I was concentrating more on spending time with our guests than taking pictures of the food.
Love curry? Check out my guide to the best Indian Restaurants in Manchester.