The Gujarati street-food n beer sensation picks 'oddball' Ropewalks site
It’s officially the best restaurant in Manchester, now Bundobust is heading for Liverpool.
The Indian - specifically Gujarati - street food and craft beer concept is to open a 140-cover site in the Ropewalks area next summer.
It completes an M62 journey across the Pennines to the sea for thirtysomething founders Mayur Patel and Marko Husak.
The pair (Patel’s family are behind the award-winning Bradford institution Prashad) and Husak (founder of the city’s Sparrow Bier Cafe) started out with just a van in the capital of curry a few short years ago before taking the plunge with a bricks and mortar venue in Leeds in 2014.
Widespread acclaim swiftly followed and the Bundobust phenomenon hit Manchester last year. It didn’t take long for it to win Best Restaurant in the city’s recent Food and Drink Awards.
Now all eyes are on Liverpool “because it’s a great city, it’s got that creative spirit, it likes to try new things”, Husak tells Liverpool Confidential. “And yet it’s our biggest challenge so far.”
They might not have to worry too much. Bundobust, in the words of Husak, is a marriage between Britain’s favourite cuisine (Indian) and Britain’s favourite drink (beer).
So far, so what’s-not-to-like? Nevertheless, the sweeping generalisations end there.
Bundobust is all about the street food of the western Indian Gujarati region. Here a starry array of craft ales (14 in Liverpool) and hundreds more tastes from around the globe are carefully chosen to match.
Having just invested in their own brewing plant in Leeds, one can expect to see the Bundobust brand on bottles soon as the concept is rolled out across other northern cities, “five ideally”, Husak says. But, keeping it local, Bundobust is big on collaborations with local brewers. Black Lodge and Mad Hatter are already on the Liverpool case, he reveals.
In common with restaurants across much of the Indian sub-continent there is no meat on the menu. Not much in the way of familiar curries. That hasn’t stopped punters busting a gut to eat at Bundobust where puris and pulses and vegetables reign, laced and infused with vibrant spices.
Prices are keen too: the most expensive “dish” (everything is served in compostable bowls) weighs in at £6 and apparently six of you could eat the entire menu for £66. Or try to anyway.
Observer food critic Jay Rayner raved about his Manchester outing in February of this year: “On a wet Monday evening Bundobust…still manages to draw in a crowd of 60 or so. ‘It’s built itself on word of mouth and I’m not at all surprised. I too, want to shout about it.”
For now, Husak is not shouting about the exact location of Bundobust Liverpool. They are expected to sign a lease in January on what he describes as an “oddball” site. It was, however, the first place they walked into.
“We’re very specific,” Patel says elsewhere. “We want sites that other restaurant brands probably would not be interested in. We don’t need the really glamorous sites with the huge premiums and we’re happy to do them up.”
The duo have already made several influential friends on their Liverpool food and drink journey.
“We’ve been helped enormously by the people behind Maray and The Merchant,” says Husak, who describes Nisha Katona’s Mowgli as fantastic.
The conversion will cost, Husak estimates, around £300,000 and once up and running in June or July, 2018, Bundobust Liverpool will employ 25 people.
Capital of curry, meet capital of (er) culture.