A superfan of the iconic Manchester band The Smiths has decided to pay homage to them in one of the most genius ways there is.
By giving a nod to them in the name of his new business venture.
Madchester music fanatic Max Paley has opened up a curry house celebrating his favourite band – named This Charming Naan – with dishes also named after some of their most famous songs, including Girlfriend In A Korma and How Saag Is Now?
The 25-year-old Smiths superfan – who is originally from Oxford – sells 20 dishes with lyric-inspired names from a kitchen he rents inside the Retro Bar music venue on Sackville Street in the heart of Manchester city centre, and the food is even endorsed by band members too, with former The Smiths drummer Mike Joyce naming a dish on the menu – Last Night I Dreamt That Some Bhaji Loved Me.
In what will surely be music to the ears of the meat-free among us – Morrissey included – the new restaurant is completely plant based.
The restaurant opened for takeaway in December of last year, and Max has plans for customers to eventually be able to sit-in and eat among Smiths’ memorabilia with their tunes playing in the background when the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown restrictions are finally lifted.
“We’ve had Johnny Marr’s son message me saying he loves it and will be down when we can open to dine in.
“Johnny is my favourite Smiths member – I’ve seen him live six or seven times.”
“We are inside a music venue which has gigs on, so people will get a real experience when they eat in.”
Max – who previously ran a music venue – had just six months’ experience working in a kitchen before starting the business venture.
He opened March and hoped to run it as a restaurant and a festival van, but both plans were halted due to lockdown, and so as a plan B, he opened as a pop-up stall at the street food hub Hatch in Manchester city centre through the summer, going on to earn rave reviews from customers and deciding to open up again before Christmas.
The two-man operation – Max and his pal Joe, who do all the cooking and take all the orders – has seen orders flood in from music fans in the city.
Max added: “I have been going to music festivals since I was 12 and I’d always had a dream of taking a food truck to festivals. I was thinking of ideas with a friend a few years ago and I had the idea of This Charming Naan and wanted to get a food truck together of that name.
“We opened as a restaurant last March and two days later, lockdown hit so we had to stop.
“I fully intend to go around the festivals in This Charming Van as soon as we can and as soon as festivals can start up again.
“We opened again as a takeaway on December 1 and business has been good, but the reaction has really blown me away.”
He continued: I grow the menu organically whenever I want to update it,”
“I’ve taught myself to cook using the internet and videos.
“I’m a vegan, but I don’t push the vegan aspect of the restaurant to the forefront, it just is what it is. I’d rather people judge the food for what it is.
“We started off with just a few dishes like Girlfriend In A Korma and Madras is Murder.
“As I expanded the menu, I tried to keep it to just Smiths songs, but it’s too hard thinking of them all to fit, but most of them are named after songs from Manchester bands.
“I had to go with a Jimi Hendrix song for a dish called Vindaloo Child.
“Supergrass is included on the menu as a little ode to Oxford, they are one of my favourite bands and they are from my hometown.
“My favourite dish to cook is Heaven Knows I’m Masala Now or Vindaloo Child, because I’m a spice man [and]I like making spicy dishes.”
This Charming Naan is currently delivering across Manchester via Deliveroo and Just Eat, and you can read the full menu via the restaurant’s website here.
The Failsworth pizzeria with queues of delivery drivers and mac and cheese pizza
There are a lot of contenders vying for the title of the best pizza in Greater Manchester – but judging by the endless stream of delivery drivers traipsing up to Failsworth, Corner Slice might be up there…
This little pizzeria has carved out a niche for itself serving Detroit-style pizzas, and though some have attempted the same, no one comes close to this quality.
These deep-dish rectangular pizzas are made with a lighter, spongier dough than the sort of chewy Neapolitan you see a lot of these days.
They’re baked in a dish so that the edges crisp up perfectly, and with toppings and cheese spread right to the edges, you get a lot of bang for your buck.
Corner Slice has just raised the bar again with its menu of creative toppings, including – and brace yourself here – mac and cheese pizza.
The Lord Lane local clearly looked at its normal thick-based pizzas and went ‘hmm, no, not enough carb. Add pasta’.
The result is their oozy, gooey mac and cheese pizza called Mr Mac – a béchamel base with macaroni, smoked mozzarella, a cheese blend, and a pesto crumb. Oh lordy.
Other menu highlights include the Red Wing (nduja, jalapeños, pepperoni and hot honey) and Sunrise (Korean BBQ cauliflower, gochujang mayo, kimchi onions and pickled cucumber) – the former leaving you with streaks of bright red chilli honey up your arms, the latter so packed with flavour that you find yourself staring down at your slice in amazement after each bite.
And if you just can’t decide, you can always go half-and-half on your pizza topping.
It’s not just about the pizzas either.
Half-and-half Detroit-style pizza at Corner SliceParmesan waffle fries and buffalo chicken
Corner Slice also has incredible sides, like Korean BBQ popcorn chicken, parmesan waffle fries, and garlic dough rolls with rotating flavours.
There are dips too, made on-site, like the fermented hot sauce that’s probably most closely related to Buffalo sauce (but infinitely more interesting) and BBQ ranch.
The whole time we’re there (which is midday on a Friday) there’s a constant stream of delivery drivers coming to collect orders. The phone never stops ringing.
At one point, they take an order that’s fit to feed an entire American football team.
It looks like the future is bright for Corner Slice. And thank god – we’re already lusting after those crusts.
Corner Slice in FailsworthA spread of pizzas and sides at Corner Slice in Failsworth