For this unmissable (or unreadable?) edition of Oi Polloi’s world famous Eatery of the Month, we’re sharpening our knives and re-pronging our forks for an evening of fine cuisine at a wondrous restaurant known as Armenia Taverna.
Hidden down some stairs next to a place that sells gentleman’s hats by the side of Manchester’s Albert Square, this place is what some people might call ‘a hidden gem’. As the name suggests, it sells Armenian food. I’ve never been to Armenia, so I can’t say if it’s an authentic representation or not, but I can say that it’s very tasty. On my most recent visit, I got some sort of vegetable platter mezze arrangement and enjoyed every mouthful, morsel and bolus of it.
Not only is the food complete edible ecstasy, but the décor is also pretty spectacular. There are loads of massive paintings on the wall, and it has a certain ‘homely catacombs’ aura to it that’s sadly missing from most restaurants. I read somewhere that this place has been open since the ‘60s and I imagine it probably didn’t look much different then.
This isn’t to sound negative either. There are a lot of ‘quirky’ flash-in-the-pan eateries popping up in Manchester at the moment, but it’s good to know that amidst all the nonsense, places like this are still around.
But let’s not get too emotional. On an unrelated note, I remember I once saw a woman feint flat on her face in here. Her husband just carried on eating as if it happened all the time, before explaining that, “She’d come all the way from Sheffield.” Fair enough then. This woman here is not the woman who collapsed.
Another good thing about this place is the celebrity photos. They used to have a signed photo of Elvis Presley in here at one point. Seeing as Elvis only visited Great Britain once (for about 20 minutes at Glasgow’s Prestwick Airport back in 1960), finding out he’d also dined out in Manchester’s premier Armenian restaurant was quite the revelation. Keen to know more, I asked the owner for the story behind the photo. His reply?
“I just signed it myself.”
Did he also fake the signature and testimonial from Steve Huison of Coronation Street and The Full Monty fame? It’s a possibility, but I doubt it.
So there you go. If you’re ever hankering for ‘an Armenian’, then this is the place to go, and as Steve rightfully points out—“Great food, great staff, great service.”
RATING: Eclectic mezzes, celebrity endorsements and fancy paintings—I give it five orbs of falafel out of five.