The flavours of the Middle East (Beirut, Tel Aviv, Istanbul and beyond) are bright and summery. The acid of just-squeezed lemon is paired with dribbled honey, crushed pistachio, garlic and thick, natural yoghurt. With falafel, hummus and kebabs on the menu, sun-kissed flavours are brought to life at your table. Omissions from our top three include Turkish Delight in Chorlton. This café-style takeaway has a huge eat-in area, the slow cooked ‘lamb knuckle’ stew a must for fans of lamb shanks, while Café Istanbul on Bridge Street is the city’s smartest Middle Eastern. The spiced chicken livers on toast are exceptional and it’s a good bet for veggies too.

Nectar Bistro

Chef-proprietor Fariss Hadi served time at Babylon student take-out on Oxford Road before opening Nectar nearly two years ago. His ambition was to cook the food he loved from Lebanon and Syria – and he’s nailed it. Hummus (£3.50) is presented like a fine dining dessert, not a ripple of tahini-blended goodness out of place. Falafels are toasty and aromatic, while mains like marinated sea bass with lemon and garlic (£13.90) or the lamb and okra stew with tamarind (£9.90) make this a real destination. Bring your own wine for just £2 corkage. Booking recommended.

404 Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton, M21 8AD. Tel: 0161 861 9300,


Petra has a gold-embossed map of the Middle East on one wall and dark-stained wood panelling throughout. It brings to mind a 1970s boardroom, a setting for Bond baddies to smoke cigars. The menu has personality too. Go for the pickles with olives (£3.40), potato kibbeh (fried, spiced potato and minced lamb cakes, £4.90) and vegetarian or lamb spinach stew with rice (£9/£7.50) with honey soaked pastries for afters. Something of a local favourite, families are welcome at this gem behind the hospital.

267 Upper Brook Street, M13 0HR. Tel: 0161 274 4441,


Tucked away in the bottom of Withington (opposite the Red Lion pub), this family-run restaurant  (pictured) is all about the food. There’s rickety furniture in an upstairs that’s as cluttered as your granny’s attic and everything is as good as it should be, after nearly 25 years in the game. Start with  toasted pitta and baba ghannouj aubergine dip (£3.50). The shish kebab (£7) offers the most tender and reasonable chargrilled lamb in Greater Manchester. Treats for dessert include ‘sweet cheese’. Bring your own beer. Booking ahead is vital.

529 Wilmslow Road, Withington, M20 4BA Tel: 0161 434 8588,

Ruth Allan
Published on:
Mon 6 Aug 2012