This & That
It’s all in the name
3 Soap Street, M4 1EW; Sunday to Thursday 11:30-4:30, Friday & Saturday 11:30-8:00
Savour the irony of finding Soap Street amidst dirty, formidable factory ruins; it’s the city’s history uncleansed. Vestiges of Manchester’s mills are fitting, adjacent to industry’s new child, Curry; for it was when This & That opened in 1984 that factories closed, and their pariahs gave birth to an institution so quintessentially Mancunian, only football and alternative music rival.
Yes, South Asian food along Curry Mile has been circumvented by the beat of a different drum – a thriving Middle Eastern scene – but the perennial kingpin of the trade serves “rice ‘n’ three” in the same spirit as ever. The team of Father and son seem as engaged in banter as feeding you, though food is everything here.
Kept in steel troughs, some sneer at a presentation style akin to canteens, but portions match flavour in being the most generous in a square mile radius. Soul-soothing chickpea Chana; fried Okra, opulent in mustard seeds and vegetatious appeal; Aloo Gobi, the war-cry of curried carbohydrates. Yet this is just foreplay.
This & That earns its title –you are not permitted but endorsed to frolic. Karai lamb chops, tenderised by hands you sense have a lifetime’s experience; unctuous Keema with peas, an inherently Indian solution to that proverbial problem of choosing Rice Krispies or dripping-mince-on-toast for breakfast; their pumpkin curry, a Harpies’ Siren to all resolute carnivores.
Such extravagances begin at £4.50 – the equivalent of a Big Mac Meal – in 2019, in the Northern Quarter – it is miracle. This & That’s enduring commitment to bring Mancunian’s the best bargain supper is testimonial. Upon landing, Manchester’s Masala mothership ought to be your first detour, along with other yuppy first timers, discerning foodies and longstanding veterans.