Mowgli Street Food opened in December 2016, the third Mowgli restaurant following one in Bold Street and another branch in Manchester. This little restaurant group, which has already expanded to six branches and is still growing, is owned by Nisha Katona, a former barrister who grew up in Ormskirk.
The restaurant is large, casual and bustling, seating as many as 150 people over two levels. The menu mixes the familiar with some more exotic local touches, such as an Indian take on a chip butty. There was a selection of just eight different wines of mysterious vintage and in some cases ambiguous growers, priced from £18 to £28 along with beers and cocktails.. The wines included Callinan View Chenin Blanc at £18 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £7, LGI La Campagne Viognier at £23 compared to its shop price of £9, and Portillo Malbec at £28 for a bottle that will set you back around a tenner in a shop.
Bhel poori was very good, the sev puffed rice nicely crisp, combined with gram flour threads, coriander, spices and tamarind chutney providing some sweetness. The spicing was quite vibrant and the dish well balanced (14/20). The chip butty was a roti wrap containing fried potatoes with turmeric and fenugreek, along with chilli pickle, tomato relish, coriander, red onion and green chilli. The potatoes kept their texture reasonably well and the spicing came though nicely, though the combination of bread with potato was inherently quite heavy (12/20).
Agra ginger chicken curry was made with chicken breast along with fresh ginger, garam masala, coriander, sweet potato and spinach. The meat did not have a lot of inherent flavour but avoided dryness, and the spices with it enlivened things, the ginger coming through well (13/20). Prawn curry was made with fennel, green peas, green chilli and mustard. The prawns were tender and the sauce had quite lively spicing (13/20). Potatoes were fried and tossed fenugreek, tomato with Bengali five spice, having pleasant texture and an enjoyable spicy kick (13/20). Rotis were actually bought in (a brand called Elephant, which bizarrely is owned by the same company that owns Primark) but were perfectly pleasant. However I preferred nicely puffed up puri bread (13/20). We also shared a dessert of gulab jaman, which was apparently made here rather than bought in. This was quite sweet and a little dense in texture, served with vanilla ice cream (12/20).
Service was friendly, the waiters enthusiastic and efficient. The bill came to £33 per person with beer to drink. This seems quite fair to me, and indeed not a single individual dish was priced over £8.95. Mowgli clearly has an appealing formula judging by the impressive speed at which tables were being turned in this large premises on a Monday night in November.