Liverpool road in Manchester is a bit of a gem; adjacent to Manchester's cool Deansgate, lined with independent restaurants specialising in Italian, Indian, and British delights.
Halfway down and slightly to the left is Salt 'n' Pepper. It looks quite suave; a smoky black sign and floor to ceiling glass windows blend seamlessly with the contemporary image of Deansgate, adjacent to the Liverpool road. The interior is equally chic - a tan and brown palette of suede, wood, and black leather seating suggests this restaurant has it 'together'. We were intrigued because it is a new and busy restaurant, and the menu is full of variety. By 'variety' I mean it was a disorganised mess - the menu was a muddle of Pakistani, Italian, American and Chinese cuisine.
When we walked in we were left standing in the doorway for about five minutes, while a man (who was dressed extremely casually), who it eventually became clear was the host, stood there ignoring us. When we were finally seated we were put on an end table, right by the door. This meant that we kept getting a gust of wind as people entered and exited. Great.
When we inquired about the type of salad, our waiter failed to explain the types of leaves, and simply stood there looking confused. The only redeeming feature was that our food came out surprisingly quickly considering it was freshly cooked.
After a rather disappointing start to the evening we were pleasantly surprised by our food; it was was outstanding. We had a starter of chicken kebab bites accompanied with a creamy, yoghurt sauce. The chicken was exceptionally tender, and well seasoned with flavours that just worked. Our mains were delicious too - Lahore Chicken, which was a rich ginger and garlic infused spicy tomato dish with chicken, rice and chapattis. They were somewhat stingy with the chapattis, and we had to ask for another, however when it arrived, it was hot, fresh and unbelievably soft.
You can't fault the food, especially when it is staring you in the face; to our left was a tank full of live lobsters. Thankfully the lobsters stayed in their tank during our meal, thankfully they weren't a favourite, and we didn't see any American or Italian dishes being served. If only Salt'n'Pepper recognised what they did well they would be a successful restaurant; the curry dishes were popular with other diners, and the flavours were delicious.
The food was the only reason it was busy, which I guess is why you go out to eat, but the service really let it down. Needless to say we certainly won't be returning.