This Indian street-food spot is new to Manchester, so it's only right that we check out how the Liverpool original measures up
Mowgli opened on Bold Street late last year and has become a firm favourite with locals, picking up some rave reviews along the way.
It doesn't take bookings, so heading out on a cold Thursday evening without a table secured is enough to give me a mild panic attack. The restaurant is reassuringly busy and the friendly waiter who greets us takes our names, and informs us the wait will be around half an hour and that the bar area is full. No big deal; we nip around the corner to Bier while we wait, and have a couple of beers there.
Suitably buzzed, we head back over and take a seat at the bar while we wait for a table to open up. The bar menu offers a range of beers and tempting cocktails. My partner opts for a bottle of Schiehallion craft lager and I decide to try one of the cocktails – a lychee rose martini, made with vodka, fresh lychee and lemon juice shaken with rose petals. It looks almost too good to drink, but I'm glad I resist the urge to stare at it all night because it's one of the best cocktails I've had in a long time. The delicate flavours of lychee and rose are followed by a warming vodka hit. It's so good I have to order another two just to check it the first wasn't a fluke.
Once we're seated at the table, our waiter asks if we've eaten here before. We tell him we haven't and he talks us through the format: three or four plates for each person dining, and the food comes out as soon as it's ready.
The menu is almost too good-looking, making it hard to choose just three dishes. After much umming and ahhing, I opt for the Himalayan cheese on toast, tea-steeped chickpeas, the temple dahl and some puri. My partner chooses the Bombay chip butty, Mowgli sticky wings and the bunny chow.
The food arrives quickly and smells amazing. The best thing about street food is as soon as your food arrives, you can tuck in – none of that polite waiting around.
The star dish is the Himalayan cheese on toast: tangy cheddar, melted with coriander and a lovely, spicy red onion and green chilli pickle. Cheese on toast in an Indian restaurant is a strange concept, but once you look past that and see the melted, cheesy gorgeousness, you'll be fine. The chickpeas and dahl are thoroughly enjoyable when soaked up with a soft, warm puri. The chickpeas could be a little spicier, but are fine for my weak, British taste buds.
My spice-loving partner is slightly disappointed with the lack of heat from his bunny chow too, but is pleasantly surprised by the amount of tender lamb within. The Bombay chip butty is his first choice, and it's easy to see why, as it's a real flavour-packed mouthful: a roti wrap, filled with fenugreek, turmeric fries, more of that delicious chilli pickle, coriander, and tomato relish. The sticky, messy wings are another big hit, absolutely soaked in a mouth-watering Manchurian slick made with spiced molasses, dark rum, cumin, garam masala, popped mustard seeds and sesame. (The finger bowl is gratefully received.)
So, does Mowgli Liverpool measure up to its Manchester counterpart? Yes, it absolutely does; quick, delicious food, amazing cocktails and friendly staff.
If you liked Mowgli, try:
Mowgli, 69 Bold St, Liverpool, L1 4EZ