Sunday, 23 January 2011
The Armenian Taverna, Manchester
Exotic, retro, homely and sumptuous!
Many years ago, I visited Manchester and passed the Armenian Taverna on my travels. Instantly, I became intrigued. Armenia is a country that some people have never even heard of, never mind their cuisine so this eaterie was definitely going to be one of a kind. I knew Armenia was nestled in between Russia and Turkey, so judging by my mutual love of Borscht and Imam Bayildi, it was a dead cert to win my tastebuds over. Upon moving to Manc, my mission became to finally seek out this promising tavern.
The restaurant began to win me over as I descended its subterranean steps. I'm a sucker for a good old fashioned 70s style restaurant, a decade when brash,garish decor was in, chavs and N**do's were non-existent and dining out was still a luxury, not a weekly pleasure like it is for most of us now. The basement was illuminated a sleazy yet cosy shade of red, calling my hungry belly down to dine. What a delight I had in store! This place combined a chilled, sunny holiday vibe and British granny's sitting room retro kitsch. I felt as if I were in a quirky museum as I was shown to my table as the walls were adorned with a mix of souvenir kitsch and tacky jumble sale ornaments of days gone by. I'd almost forgot I was here to eat!
The menu was just what I expected and my tastebuds had longed for. An eclectic mix of Turkish-style, Arabic, Russian with a pinch of Greek, this colourful menu provided loads of veggie treats for me and the meat eaters had their fair share of kebabage.
I started with an aubergine dip, a sumptuous velvety blend of aubergine, yogurt and herbs, served with beautiful pitta straight from the oven. The main event was a veggie couscous and was out of this world. The couscous was fresh and fluffy and its crowning glory was the beautiful medley of curried veg- aubergine, courgette, okra and other faves blended in to make a taste explosion. All main courses are served with a boat of Armenian special sauce- a wicked tomato and pepper gravy for added zing. Furthermore, if you needed any more 70s cuteness, the plates were those gorgeous ones popular back in the day decorated with pretty flowers!
After this feast, I was stuffed to the gills and couldn't manage dessert. Nor could I manage a potent coffee as I had work in the morning (I'm a terrible coffee drunk!)However, in the name of research, I checked it out next time and spotted some right Turkish delights- Baklava and Künefe. Hmmm, my stomach is pestering me to go back....
Armenian Tavern, that's a big thumbs up from me. Here's to another 40 successful years in business!