Travel restrictions have meant that we have been limited unable to travel to Southeast Asia since last March when we returned home from Thailand just before the lockdown began.
Unable to get our fix of Thai food from street markets and family-run small restauarants and cafes in Thailand we thought it was time to sample something different.
We recently visited District in Manchester, a relatively new restaurant that bills itself as a “New Wave Thai Kitchen & Bar in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Progressive barbecue cookery and liquid intelligence inspired by a future Bangkok.”
When we visited the restaurant offered two fixed menu options:
The Full Experience: A 12 course menu costing an eye-watering £85 per person (US$117)
My First Crush: A stripped down 8 course menu costing “just” £40 (US$55) per person.
We opted for the Full Experience, you only live once right? Here is our review.
Lying in the busy Northern Quarter in Manchester in-between shuttered shops, small bars and the odd take-away and restaurant, it is not exactly in the modern, upmarket part of Manchester. Character the area does have however.
Subtle lighting and signage meant that we almost walked past but once we walked through the doorway we were greeted with a smile and the friendly staff took us to our table.
The restaurant itself is a mix of concrete metal and tiled spaces with a purple lighting vibe that still manages to keep a pop-up sense of fun.
A great start.
The drinks menu is fairly limited and don’t expect to see all of your favourite wines, beers or even cocktails on the menu. We both opted for the Districts own tamarind cola which was very nice.
Nam Jim, Purple Yam and Thai Basil.
The first course was soon heading our way with an introduction from one of the three waiting staff who looked after our every need on the night.
A stunning introduction to the evening, the dish was perfectly balanced and looked almost as good as it tasted. A 10/10 start from us.
Ribeye, Nam Tok, Purple Corn Tostada.
Short Rib Southern Curry & Roti.
Two indvidual, bite-size, taco’s with a dfifference.
Both were exceptionally tastyalthough we both, slightly, prefered the short-rib curry version. Another 10/10 dish.
Tamarand Jeaw – main picture.
Listed as seperate courses but Pork Coppa and Kohlrabi (below) come together and you can see why as the Kohlrabi salad was the perfect accompanyment to the pork.
The pork is beautifully cooked and the tamarind jeaw dressing adds another dimension to the dish.
Honestly I do have other ratings but another 10/10 dish.
Candied tomato, peanut
Tasty and full of depth this salad is wonderful by itself but when eaten with the pork coppa is stunning.
Nam Prik Pao & Rice wafer.
Confession time. This one was eaten before I realised I had taken a picture. My bad.
A grilled mushroom with a thick, indulgent sauce this one split opinions. I will admit here that I am not a fan of mushrooms which is a more than a slight issue in a mushroom dish.
My partner who loves mushrooms was much more of a fan and so we have used her, more balanced, opinion here to rate this one as a 7/10.
Coconut galangal broth, BBQ Shimeji.
Suddenly it felt like a more common main course dish as the jasmine rish side dish was presented to the table alongside the chicken.
The chicken was perfectly cooked and the coconut galangal broth helped to build a depth of flavour that made the dish very moreish.
I am assued that the Shimeji mushrooms were veryr tasty, my appetite for trying more mushrooms was more than sated on the previous course.
Isan sausage, Pandan honey bun, Herb Nam Jim.
A change to the advertised menu was the smallest sausage butty you are ever likely to see.
The pandan honey bun was the highlight of this for me as I fely that the sausage was lost a little. 7/10
Red curry, smoconut, pickled onion.
For those of you that don’t know what smoconut is let me explain, I had to look it up on my phone as we ate. It’s just a made up word for the coconut dressing.
Very rich, deep but subtle, curry covered the octopus but for me needed more of a kick to it. 7/10.
Coconut relish, mango, peanut.
This one really tested the taste buds and we both had very different taste experiences.
For me it was an intial hit of mango followed the peanut and shrimp and a warm aftertaste. My wife found the mango came at the end of the mouthful.
It was 9/10 for both of us though.
Herdwick Hogget Rump
Massaman, potato, Oba leaf
Wonderfully cooked rump with another thick sauce that seemed to promise more than the subtle taste that it delivered. Possibly we are just used to more spicy dishes.
Aged Goosnargh Duck
Apple aubergine, Phat Phet Jus
Another dish where we ate before I remembered a picture.
A mixed review from this one. My wife was not keen on the aubergine whereas I didn’t mind it. The duck itself was, of course, tasty and perfectly cooked and the jus added to the depth of flavour. 7/10
Iced Tom Yum
Tom Yum, Meringue, Ruby Grapefruit.
Our waitress headed over and told us that this dish wasn’t on the menu but they liked people to sample this pre-dessert.
This was beautiful. A delicate fluffy meringue that left a warm coating at the back of your throut after swallowing.
Tamarind Tangfastic & Frozen Fudge
Another additional dish not actually on the menu.
One very fudgy sweet and one wonderfully sour tamarind gel. Very nice 8/10
It Was Only A Dream
Caramelised Onion, mango, rice praline.
The end is nigh.
The final dish was a lovely, complex, soft dessert that helped to finish the meal off on a high.
It took some eating if I am to be honest as I was not very full, bit I wasn’t raised to be a quitter. 8/10
It’s not very often that I spend that kind of money on a meal, or have a meal with so many courses. It was however very much worth the cost and the two and a half hours that we spent in the restaurant was all very enjoyable and an evening to remember.
Overall an excellent 9/10.
Now can I have the first three courses and the iced Tom Yum again please?
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