It seems a little crazy to feel late to the scene with a place that's only been open a couple of months, but then these days news of good food travels fast, especially in this particular south Manchester suburb. All the chat on Chorlton Facebook group was of a new Indian restaurant half way down Barlow Moor Road that was doing something a bit special, and I just don't mean BYOB.
With feet firmly under table at the newly opened venue, which sits opposite Southern Cemetery, booze is on the menu now anyway. And it joins an exciting selection of South Indian dishes that can be shared or enjoyed in a more traditional three course structure.
We began tapas style, with little black cast iron pots that were more bar snack than small plate, and all the more fun for for it. Madras Masala Mussels combines crisp fried plump shellfish with roasted peanuts and dry spices, freshened up with diced tomato and red onion. A delicious take on a chaat, reminiscent of bhel puri or even Bombay mix, and the perfect savoury accompaniment to a couple of crisp lagers.
The Chicken 65 also impressed with its light and flavoursome batter surrounding tender moist meat. These are generous portions too, I regretted not being able to try more, next time we'll return in greater numbers and see to that. Up next slow roasted Beef Sukka smacked of sunkissed Keralan flavours bringing the delicate aromatic spice of cardomon and creamy coconut together expertly with moist pulled beef.
Combining the light, fragrantly fermented flavours of a dosa with more of that tender beef made for another delicious dish. For me the coconut was a little on the dry side, I prefer it bit more saucy, but the pancake was perfect as was the tomato chutney.
Our final savoury dish was Kari kalambu paratha, a pot of slow cooked spring lamb packed with more of the complex combinations of herb and whole spice that dazzled throughout our meal. Sweet and smoky clove, cinnamon and fennel seed offer that much more traditional aroma of curry than our more punchy and picante creations from these shores. Coupled with a buttery, flaky paratha it was pure indulgence, home cooking not just from the heart, but with plenty of skill too.
Our desserts were both attractively arranged, the first didn't deserve the description Amma's mess, it was closer to trifle than mess for me. Either way the fresh fruit and cardomon cream topped rasmalai was a nice light fresh way to end our meal.
The same could be said too of the trio of puddings we also tried, hot and sweet bitesize gulab jamun on cocktail sticks were a lovely little explosion of syrupy sponge. Carrot halwa, not always my favourite dessert in fairness, was also impressive. With the addition of that grated carrot the, plate as a whole offered a tantalising selection of textures, all finished with a creamy shot of rasmalai payasam.
Amma's Canteen is undoubtedly somewhere for Chorlton to be proud of, and as a local I plan on making a return visit very soon, but if you're wondering whether it's worth making the trip from town or further afield, on this showing it's a wholehearted yes!
285 Barlow Moor Rd, Manchester M21 7GH
0161 291 1682