Typically home to a Maccies and the odd Nando’s, retail parks aren’t usually the first place you’d think of to have a top-class, slap-up meal. In fact, they’re probably nowhere on that list at all.
But if you’re looking for one of the best curries in the north, you can’t go far wrong than to head on over to the Ellesmere Retail Park in Walkden – home to the brilliant Purple Lounge.
The first thing you’ll notice when you step into The Purple Lounge is the purple. Purple lighting, purple tiles, purple fabrics and blooms of fresh flowers scattered expressively about the space which are, you guessed it – purple too.
Be that as it may, I wouldn’t call Purple Lounge gaudy. The whole affair is striking and confident and presents itself as a place where presentation clearly matters.
You’ll find that ethos next in the smiles and friendly conversation from the staff too, and you’ll continue to find it in all the dishes that hit your table.
The Purple Lounge is bright and spacious and a little bit glitzy. Built around a mirrored-bar and without skimping on the crystal-encrusted chandeliers, the restaurant feels like it should be off the lobby of a trendy new hotel — where the superbly solicitous, pressed-and-dressed waitstaff would also feel right at home, no doubt.
The same measured and glitteringly sophisticated approach is taken with the food. Purple Lounge have an extensive menu of classics, alongside some more exotic signature and house specials – many of which you won’t find anywhere else.
There’s the outstanding Rack of Lamb & Keema (£14.45), a dish that presents a tender grilled rack of lamb alongside spicy minced meat, onions and Bengali Shatkora – or wild lime to you and me.
Another stand-out dish is the Kamali Duck (£12.95), a unique offering which comes loaded with capsicum, garlic, aromatic spices and tender pieces of stir-fried duck. My personal favourite though (and something I order every time) is the fiery Lamb Afghani (£11.50) – a Nepalese classic that will leave you sweating, but also very satisfied.
Naturally, you will find all your classics, or should I say ‘British Classics’, but these are the best versions of these dishes you will have tasted without a doubt. The sauces are so much more than your standard reddish-brown in every bowl and instead, you receive vibrant and endlessly unique dishes which their own character and flavour profile.
As you eat you’ll find steaming bowls and sizzling platters swerving between tables on gleaming carts, patrons gingerly licking spicy sauces from fingertips and rubbing tears from their eyes using just their knuckles.
Sharing is certainly caring at Purple Lounge and you are actively encouraged to engulf your table in dishes and tuck in – in true Indian style.
Tandoori is treated properly and cooked in a proper clay oven after a stint in a marinade of freshly ground spices and yoghurt with delicious results.
A staple for any visit to Purple Lounge is certainly the Tandoori Platter (£10.75) – a huge mound of expertly cooked Lamb Tikki, Chicken Tikki and Sheek Kebab that as good, if not better, than anywhere you’ll find in Manchester.
As if the food wasn’t enough, Purple Lounge also host a series of Live Music acts and entertainment throughout the year, giving you a bit of a singsong while you tuck into your samosas.
So, it’s not exactly placed where you’d expect, but if you can get over the location you’re in for a true Indian treat at Purple Lounge. I’ve never been let down by this place on my many visits, and I’m positive you won’t be too.
And if you need any more convincing – at least you don’t have to worry about finding a parking space!
Purple Lounge, Ellesmere Retail Park, Worsley, Walkden, M28 3UD
0161 790 1584