Anyone who has lived or visited Stretford over the last couple of years will have most likely popped into the excellent Sip Club – an almost mythological neighbourhood bar set above a laundrette and accessed through a tiny, innocuous door.
You’ll probably also now know that unfortunately The Sip Club is no more, but hold the tears, because Urmston & Flixton favourites BrewChimp have moved in downstairs, and have transformed the upstairs space into a brilliant new concept called the Indian Social Club.
Ascend the stairs and you’re greeted with a moderate restaurant space, overshadowed by a huge open kitchen – where you’re going to see Vijay and Raj – the two friends behind the idea – bringing some truly unique flavours and dishes all the way from the street markets of the South of India.
The menu focuses around the idea of Indian ‘tapas’, an impressive choice of small street food dishes – many of which you won’t have seen over here in the UK before, and others which are authentic twists on already well-known classics.
So, fear not as you find well-known dishes like Chilli Paneer (£6), Samosas (£3.50/4) and some sublime Bhel Puri (£4), as well as the duo’s own version of an Onion Bonda (£5); one of Southern India’s most famous and popular street foods and a variation on the ‘bhaji’ that you’ll definitely never have tried before.
They’ve created Chicken 65 (£6); a fried chicken dish made using their own secret blend of spices, Meen Varuval (£7); shallow-fried spicy fish and a Samosa Chaat (£4) which is better than anything you’ll have had before – taken to a whole new level with the generous addition of their very own homemade tamarind sauce.
The lads are keen to point out that you’ll find a couple of dishes on their menu which you won’t find anywhere else in the UK – meaning Stretford is the only place to try them – unless you (rudely) invite yourself into someone’s house, or buy some plane tickets to Tamil.
Probably the most striking (and interesting) of these dishes is the stunning Vazhai Ilai Parotta (£10), a flaky paratha flatbread which is topped with a dry spicy chicken curry, which is then smothered in a spicy chicken gravy and then wrapped in a banana leaf and then cooked.
When it came out it was like nothing I’d ever seen before, and I’ve actually been to most places in India! The smells coming off of this beauty were unbelievable, and it’s not hard to see why this dish has been so popular on the streets of Chennai for so many years.
With another 20 or so small plates and dishes on the menu, there’s something for everyone, and each one is perfect paired up with some beers, which are able to come in thick and fast from the team from BrewChimp.
The Indian Social Club looks set to be an exciting, interesting new offering for Stretford, and indeed the whole of the city. With some truly wonderful new dishes, some interesting classics and two enthusiastic chefs in the kitchen – it looks set to be a massive success.
The Indian Social Club is set to open their doors wide on Tuesday 18th May, alongside BrewChimp’s downstairs bar. You can make your table booking below…
Indian Social Club, 164a Barton Road, Stretford, M32 8DP