I was walking around central Manchester yesterday when, next to a branch of Virgin Money, in a fairly grubby doorway i saw a sign saying The Armenian Taverna and a sign pointing down a steep narrow staircase.
In a glass frame near the door was a newspaper cutting with this review:
“On paper the Armenian Taverna really shouldn’t work.
Entrance to the basement restaurant is through such an unassuming doorway off Albert Square, it’s a wonder anyone finds it in the first place. Those that do would be forgive for thinking they’d stepped into a time warp. It hasn’t changed in almost 25 years and the décor couldn’t be further removed from the today’s stark post-modernism. It’s a wonder everyone isn’t drinking Blue Nun. Good job, then, that the food is so good. There’s plenty of meze (or Mezzeh) to start with, from Ful Bi-Hummus, Egyptian brown beans with egg and the ubiquitous chick pea dip, to the tongue-twisting Dabagadz Tzugnik, sardines and whitebait, simply fried. Portions are generous to say the least, so only the very brave should opt for Jash (second course), which includes Armenian king prawns, as a starter. The mains are dominated by Khorovdik, an excellent range of char grilled kebabs, from lean, nicely spiced Shish to a succulent, tasty Judi (marinated baby Poussin), while non-carnivores are catered for by the Gaizag trout or the marinated halibut kebab. All come with vast timbales of rice, but you really should order some of the wonderfully monikered lavish bread of Caucasus.
Most can’t make it to the dessert menu, but pakalava are highly recommended. And the best thing? The bill, as the total looks as dated as the décor.”
I met up with a colleague later and decided to eat before catching the train back. We wandered round to the Taverna and thought “why not” ?
It was only 5pm and so we had the place to ourselves plus the manager and a chef.
Having wanted a light supper, and with one of us wanting an Armenian veggie adventure and the other an Armenian meat feast, we ended up indecisive enough for the manager to suggest that basically we left it to him.
He brought us a massive meat and veggie starter (photo above) (NB neither of us are actually vegetarian hence the meat and veg on one plate) plus fresh flat breads.
Frankly, we were done in by the starter. It was wonderful.
The mains were a plate each, each as big as the starter. Apparently social media is slowly erring away from taking photos of absolutely every waking breathing experience, so, phones away, we just got stuck in to the food.
God it was good.
As per the review we’d have needed space creating surgery to have fitted in dessert. We did ask for “proper” coffee, a task given to the chef to prepare (rather than a button to be pressed on a chrome machine). Deep, dark and dangerous, the coffee was exceptional.
With a train to catch, we paid, thanked and left. The steep staircase a struggle on the way out.
£46 for two truly enormous courses each (which neither of us could ever have hoped to finish) plus beers plus coffee. One of the best meals i have eaten in a very very long time.
The Armenian Taverna
3/5 Princess Street, M2 4DF
0161 834 9025
@ Tue – Fri 12pm – 2pm & 5.15pm – 11pm
Sat 5.15pm – 11pm
Sun 5.15pm – 10pm