In the street-food storm that has swept the nation in recent years, it takes a blinder to adhere to every hipstertastic convention of the movement but still stand out from the crowd. Bundobust unashamedly ticks all of the too-cool-for-school boxes, and you’ll find as many beards, ironic tattoos and unpronounceable craft beers in here as you will vegan and vegetarian dishes, but it’s done so well that you just don’t care.
Even its entrance is effortlessly unassuming. A shabby doorway amongst the late-night take-out joints and illuminated fast-food chains of upper Picaddilly Gardens – we thought we’d got lost before spying its leaping tiger logo framed on top of an old wooden door frame. You feel as though you’ve stumbled upon a secret – I wouldn’t have been surprised if you’d had to whisper a password to get inside – but Bundobust is bustling with people in the know, the entrance leading downstairs to an vast cavernous space of ceramic tiled walls and exposed brickwork, vintage Bollywood posters, and simple refectory-style benches and booths that create a relaxed and welcoming hall-style restaurant.
The menu is vibrant and colourful, and the vegetarian offering is interesting and imaginative enough to excite even the most diehard carnivores. A few favourites included: Okra Fries, fried lady’s fingers coated in chickpea batter and seasoned with black salt and mango powder; Massala Dosa, mini rice pancakes filled with a cauliflower and potato dry fry, served with a lentil, aubergine and bottle gourd soup; and Vada Pav, Mumbai’s favourite burger of deep-fried spicy mashed potato ball, served in a brioche bun with red and green chutney. Dishes are served up in branded cardboard pots, and this, along with the virtuous veggie offering, helps to keep the prices down – nothing exceeds the £6.50 mark, encouraging you to try a little bit of everything and get stuck into the spirit of sharing. For £80 you can get everything on the menu, which feeds 6-8 people, but I reckon their generous portions would stretch even further.
Craft ale and cocktails are aplenty. You can wash it all down with a pint of Juicy Bangra or Bobmay Dazzler, a Mango and Rose Water Bramble or a Coconut and Mango Mojito.
By Louise Henderson, Manchester editor
Photos: Bundobust Manchester Facebook page