Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Zaara's

Location
Outside Zaara's on a wind swept evening 


Zaara’s Indian Restaurant
34-38 Bradford Road
Shipley
West Yorkshire
BD18 3NT
Tell: 01274 588774
Modern interior
Web: http://www.zaaras.com/
Time
11th November 2011 @ ~20:30
Attendees
Jaz, Lynda, Francois and John (me)
Pre-Curry Watering Holes
Fanny's is a Shipley institution
Not really knowing Shipley that well for drinking, we headed straight to Saltaire.  Leaving the train, on what was a dank drizzly night, made the partially cobbled terraced streets of Saltaire, with the Mill looming through the dark, very atmospheric for first time visitor to Bradford Francois
First port of call was Don’t Tell Titus, a modern bar come restaurant just up from the train station.  It was a trendy noisy kind of place but was pleasant enough to spend just enough time to neck a bottle of wine.  Next was the legendary Fanny’s Ale House.  Fanny’s is a very characterful boozer on Saltaire Road, offering all manner of specialist and local brews.  It was heaving with standing room only, but is well worth a visit if in the area.  Finally was Ring O Bells, just across the road from Zaara’s, and is your standard kind of pub really.  There’s nothing wrong with that but nothing much to say either. 
Expectations
Zaara’s is in the Michelin Guide – not starred or anything, but it’s in there all the same – resulting in my high expectations.  However, coming down to earth, I understand that you simply pay to be included in the guide, so I guess it’s not that special?  But it’s not often I get to use the words ‘Michelin’ and ‘restaurant’ in the same sentence, so it felt pretty special to me.
The Reality
Zaara’a, like so many modern curry houses in and around Bradford, and probably the country, is a trendy establishment, which has dispensed with the traditional, outdated and clich├ęd flock wall paper and velvet chairs etc in favor of faux leather and dark wood.  Very swish it all looked too.
Following on from poppadoms and pickles, my starter of Paneer Tikka was wonderful and served on a bed of sizzling onions.  The herbs and spices encrusted to the outside of the paneer attacked every taste bud in my mouth with gusto.
Mixed Karahi
For main, my requested ‘hot’ Mixed Karahi (lamb and chicken) arrived perfectly spiced for my taste, and supplied the warm glow in the mouth sensation that a good curry should.  Not blow your head off hot - but just enough to let you know that he’s there.  All the curries ordered could be chosen at different heat levels - but on this occasion no-one dared the ‘Asian Strength’.  Flavour wise my Karahi – which is fast becoming my Bradford Curry of choice – was all there too, and left me wanting more.  Although slightly lacking in the lamb element of its Mixed tag, it provided plenty of chicken in a sumptuous (not oily) gravy, with the addition of a slightly deconstructed element to the dish in the form of fresh toms and herbs. 
The accompaniment of Garlic Naan was ‘a Garlic Naan’ - we’ve all been there – so won’t bore you with detail.  It didn’t last long though I can tell you.
The whole lot was polished off with no problems.
Drinks Policy and range
Zarra’s is licensed with a full wine and beer list.  Bottles Cobra are available - but no Kingfisher, or other curry associated beers seem to be available.
Highlights
Paneer Tikka
Although all was very nice, and I enjoyed every aspect of my meal, I really rated the Paneer Tikka.  Credit has to go the Zaara chef for his quality blend of herbs and spices, which transformed, what I guess is an essentially pretty bland cottage cheese, to the dizzying heights of mouthwatering status.
Lowlights
There were absolutely none.  My personal preference is to be presented with poppadoms and pickles when seated, or with the drinks, which didn’t happen at Zaara’s.  However, I totally understand that it isn’t what everyone wants.  Therefore, it’s not a criticism, just an observation.
The Damage
Very reasonable at £16.25pp including drinks (at least two bottles of beer each) I think?  So about £10pp for starter, main and sundry!!  Rock on!!  That sounds cheap so will confirm.
Aftershock
The obligatory headache followed in the morning, but that was from other ‘sauces’.
Overall
I was more than happy with my Zaara experience.  It was very nice in every aspect.