[Rusholme, Manchester] Walnut Persian

I can’t recall how we came to put Walnut on our restaurant “to try” list but it’s been sat there for a while. It was very busy, with many diners waiting for 7.45 so they could break their Ramadan fast. It’s a nice buzzy sort of vibe. I didn’t realise, till I went downstairs to the loo, that there were more tables down there, also all occupied, so it’s quite a big place for Rusholme. We’d booked which was just as well as folk were being turned away.

Olivieh is an Iranian version of Russian salad – chicken, potato, peas, pickle, bound together with mayo. Served alongside and perking it up no end was the watercress and herb salad – just sprigs of mint, parsley, dill and coriander. It’s a lovely use of fresh herbs that you don’t seem to come across in other Middle Eastern cuisines. The other starter was a chopped salad – Salad-e-Shirazi - cucumber, mint, tomato and onion in a very sharp dressing of lemon and sour grape juices. We also ordered torshi – you have to have pickles with a Middle Eastern meal. Here’s it’s cauliflower and carrot. And, of course, there’s flatbread.

One of the partners of our favourite Indian restaurant is Iranian and knows Walnut well. When we mentioned we were going to eat there, she recommended the kobideh kebab. So that’s what I had and it was a good call. Two skewers of nicely seasoned minced lamb. They serve it with a choice or rice, naan, salad or chips. That’ll be the bread then. There’s a little garnish of more of the herb salad. And they serve a little bowl of lentil soup alongside, as a dipping sauce.

The other main course was less successful. It was a vegetarian version of the Persian classic, fesenjan, usually served with chicken. The meat is substituted with aubergine which we expected to come in chunks. However, it was a puree which was blended into and got lost in the sharp walnut and pomegranate sauce. So it was all a bit mono-dimensional. Very good rice though and more of the salad.

We had planned to have a walk along the Curry Mile (or the Kebab Kilometre as its become) to see if there were any new openings but it was throwing it down with rain so that’ll have to wait for another visit.