With the recent flurry of fancy eateries opening in Manchester over the last few years – from big names like Dishoom to trendy independent offerings like Trove – it can sometimes be easy to forget about the long-standing institutions at the foundations of the city’s food scene. This & That is one such place. If you are a curry lover looking for a cheap and delicious meal with mates after a day in town, This & That should move to the top of your Manchester bucket list.
A cosy Indian curry house tucked away on a Northern Quarter backstreet, This & That offers a wide variety of curries which change every day, along with samosas, bhajis, rotis and several types of naan. Their main deal is the famous ‘Rice and Three’ – three currys and rice for a fiver – £4.50 if you go for the veggie/vegan option! It’s hard to find such good value elsewhere in town, especially as the portions are massive.
Visiting last week, I was greeted warmly by the man behind the counter. The atmosphere is immediately friendly, with back and forth banter flying between kitchen and tables, and a flurry of regulars who seem to have been going there for years. I was early to meet my friend, so sat with a mango lassi – which I was warned was pretty filling – and hungrily waited, staring down the variety of daily curry options.
On this particular Tuesday, on offer was a cabbage, chickpea and mixed vegetables for vegetarians, with four (!) different lamb curries and a chicken masala for the meat-eaters. By the time my friend had arrived I was starving, and fortunately, our portions did not disappoint.
The veggie curries were served with plenty of rice and extra coriander, fresh onions and spicy tamarind sauce, if you wanted it. The curries, especially the chickpea, were great. The cabbage was perhaps a bit lukewarm, but in such a casual atmosphere and at such a cheap price, what does it matter?
It’s important for everyone that places like This & That exist. Not only do they provide a cheap and quick meal – leaving you more money to spend on a day vintage shopping or posh cocktails with friends afterwards – but they also form the base of Manchester’s community.
At this one lunch time, there were groups of lads teasing (and being teased by) the staff, businessmen on their breaks, and arty postgrads all sitting together on the long tables, enjoying a good honest bowl of food together. It was a table as varied, wholesome and warming as the Rice and Three – and as communal and easygoing as Manchester itself.
Powered By Spotlight Studios
0161 275 2930 University of Manchester’s Students’ Union, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9PR