Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Madras - Hull

Yes yes yes I know this is a blog dedicated to Bradford Curry, and over recent months there have been blogs about Glasgow and now Hull, but I do like to try and chronicle all my travels, especially if the establishments visited are worth meriting – I hope dear readers you don’t mind?

So a late afternoons drinking and night out to the Hull Truck Company Theatre, to see Once Upon a Time in Wigan, resulted in two very hungry Bradford Curry Club members on the prowl for Hull based curry come 11pm.  Although once a student in Hull (20yrs ago), my knowledge of current curry restaurants is very limited to say the least – non existent would be more accurate, and I seem to remember that surviving on 9p noodles and fish fingers was the order of the day back then, rather than swanky dinning.  Something my waistline thanked me for it must be said.

So, a quick ‘best curry in Hull’ Google search on the iPhone presented us with The Madras on Analby Road – and was just around the corner, so ideal.

I think because of the time of night, when we arrived we were the only dinners.  But the staff were very friendly and accommodating, even though I think perhaps they were getting ready to go home.  I found myself sat looking out of the window of the rather large open restaurant, so paid little attention to the décor – suffice to say I think it was very clean, and presentable, in that kind of modern way.

Drinks (larger on draft) and popdoms ordered, along with the sizzling started, a curry each, a garlic naan and the chapattis!!  Phew.

The Sizzling starter as ace had all the usual suspect present.  Seekh Kebab, chops, ect.  All well seasoned, tasty and well cooked.

I can’t remember the name of the lamb based curry I ordered, as it was in part recommended by the waiter.  I can say though that it was excellent, and seemed a little reminiscent of a Dopiaza (although it wasn’t – as it was off the specials menu and defo had a name I hadn’t come across) as it included large pieces of juicy onion.  The dish as a whole was very pleasantly gloopy – perfect for dipping the garlic naan in - and perfectly spiced.  I didn’t hear any complaints from the Mrs either regarding her curry.

The Madras was a very good indeed overall curry eating experience, and I can highly recommend it if you’re ever in that neck of the woods.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Akbar’s The Café

Akbar's The Cafe from the side

Akbar’s is a Bradford institution, and was originally/still is considered by this merry band of Bradford Curry eaters to be THE Bradford Curry by which ALL others should be judged…  A bold statement, but one which reflects the high regard we, as individuals, all held for the restaurant prior to the birth of the Club.

However, the last, and only documented, time, we have visited Akbar’s proper (not the Cafe) as the Bradford Curry Club, was on an incredibly busy night and, although we couldn’t fault the service or food, the atmosphere was slightly lacking.  The blog of the evening can be viewed here.

An Akbar's napkin
Now, to be honest, we have visited Akbar’s The Café too before, but it was not documented.  If I remember rightly - Bradford Curry offered that day was 'Ten Men' - but we were not too keen on the café concept, and didn’t think the likes of lasagne, burgers, etc. had a place on a hard core Bradford Curry House menu.  However, we now admit that those views were a little snobby and narrow-minded, and these days we embrace such forward thinking ideas.

So how about Akbar’s The Café – how does it fair?

It fairs very well thank you very much. 

Although one of the first people through the door on the dot at noon, the Café soon filled, and the ultra modern glass, stainless steel and brown leatherette was all very cool and made for an comfy and relaxed location to spend an hour or so.

Lamb Handi and Tandori Roti
Our order was taken and the food soon arrived.  Not perhaps as lightening quick as some other restaurants visited recently, but it’s not a race at the end of the day – and still a darn site faster than McDonalds if you order a Big Mac without the gherkin!!  Fish Masala, Lamb Handi and two Tandori Roti’s provided plenty of food for the Curry Monster Izzy and me.  Izzy tucked into the Fish Masala with gusto and, when I was reluctantly allowed to sample the fish, I can report it was beautifully seasoned, soft, moist and well cooked.  The Lamb Handi was also top draw and was thick and dry.  It was on the spicy side it must be said – a little too much for Izzy – but was bob on for me.  It was also noted to be - in a very good way – garlicy, and it is definitely worth sampling.  MMmmmm.  Post meal I was informed by a helpful member of staff that the curries can be made milder, and just to simply ask when ordering.  Very accommodating, but sorry Izzy, you'll just have to suck in the pain and 'Man Up' if you want some of your Daddy's curry.  I had my handi plain but it can be ordered with spiniach, dall, chickpeas, etc, so is quite customisable.

Izzy with Fish Masala

There were no downsides at all to note.  The Café was clean and staff excellent and I considered it great value for money.  Speaking off the top of my head though, perhaps for some hardened Bradford Curry eaters the super trendy interior might grate slightly… who knows?  That’s just personal taste and I do know some people like that.  There is also the fact that Akbar’s is essentially a chain restaurant these days and that might not necessarily appeal to those looking for, well, somewhere that is not a chain?

All in all on this visit I am sold, I reckon the quality is excellent and I will definitely be visiting Akbar’s The Café again soon.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Isabella You’ve made Your Dad Very Proud

A wonderful thing happened last night.  My (nearly) 2yr old Daughter said ‘curry’ for the first time…  I’m so proud.

It occurred during bath time, during a chat regarding what she wanted to do on Thursday?  I asked if she wanted to go out for dinner, and pressed further to see if she would fancy a Bradford Curry…  Currently her favourite meal is beans and sausages, and I was totally expecting her response to my query to be ‘eans and ‘osage ‘ease Daddy.  Imagine my delight when the immortal word ‘curry’ resonated around the bathroom?

So I can see a little Father and Daughter bonding session occurring this Thursday.  I wonder where she would like to go - a question for tonight’s bath time I think.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Off With a Bang in 2012 - Karachi does it Again

Three generations enjoying the Karachi
The start of a New Year, but no time for romanticising about New Years Resolutions/New Dawn’s/starting afresh/etc.  Only time for the continued quest to eat Bradford Curry… To the Karachi we go.

After being teased regarding my lack of 2012 curries by my new friend and No.1 curry aficionado Hector Curry-Heute, I had to up my game and get into Bradford town centre as soon as possible for a Bradford Curry.  Luckily my current life situation affords me Thursday’s off work - to do my house husband bit and mind my beautiful daughter Isabella.  These Thursdays are fast becoming opportune Bradford Curry eating fixes.  Isabella loves it too.
A sideways view of  curry

Izzy tucks in no worries
So, with this in mind, and my Dad in tow too, it was off to the Karachi.  As you are all probably more than aware, Karachi currently offers up John the Bradford Curry Bloggers, oh and that chef Rick Stein’s,  No.1 Bradford Curry, in the form of the mouth watering Meat and Spinach and, yet again, it was verging on the ridiculously excellent.  Beautiful tender and abundant meat, in a thick, perfectly spiced, and slightly deconstructed sauce – this curry offers everything to this writer, and every mouthful was met with increased endorphin release. 
A bit of a sickly sweet shot
I know, but I like it

On this most recent visit, the above was paired with a massive plate of perfectly haphazard and tasty onion bhaji and a peshwari naan.  To be brutally honest, neither was perhaps up to the standards of the near by Kashmir, but certainly not far off, and didn’t stop us devouring every last morsel.

Until next time….

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

AGM - Zouk

Another year and another AGM has now passed.  The masses spoke and aired their views, through the medium of a Facebook poll, and Zouk was chosen as the venue to eat Bradford Curry in, in the yearly celebration of the Bradford Curry Club.

I for one was pleased with the choice – Zouk was last visited by the group as a whole in the summer of 2009, and was very well received, but how would it stack up now?  Many restaurants have been visited and many curries eaten in the intervening time – can it still cut the mustard?

Not only have many restaurants been visited, and many curries eaten, but some big changes have taken place within the ranks of the Bradford Curry Club – namely babies.  Last time we dined at Zouk, as a group at least, we were all young, free and single – not really – but so to speak.

Baby herding
In a nutshell, our visit to Zouk in 2009 was a Cobra fuelled curry eating frenzy of the highest order.  It was a Rock ’n’ Roll night out of the magnitude never then or since witnessed in a curry house.  By contrast our recent AGM at Zouk was a far more sedate, but equally enjoyable, basic baby herding exercise.  To their credit, the staff at Zouk were very accommodating, and seemed suitably un-phased by four toddlers/small children running amok around their rear restaurant area.

Lamb Rogan Josh and Garlic Naan
The food was excellent.  My Seekh kebab was wonderfully moist, with the flavour of the grill permeating every mouthful.  Zouk’s open kitchen is a wonderful place to spend a few moments observing the chef’s taming the mighty tandoor and open grills.  My main of Lamb Rogan Josh was spotted on the specials board.  It comprised a much reduced sauce that was strong in flavour, but a little oily.  The meat quota was high, melt in the mouth, and with the addition of the slight disintegration of the meat aiding in the thick and rich nature of the dish.  This dish was, however, £9.95, and I bet must be one of the most expensive ‘standard curries’ available in Bradford.  It was good – I’ll give you that – but perhaps not quite £10 good. 

Elsewhere on the table, the highlight - perhaps a little unexpectedly for me - was the Paya (trotters).  I say ‘unexpectedly’, not for any other reason other than my rather squeamish narrow minded view of rough cuts and offal in general.  However, although the meat did seem nothing more than bones, gristle and fat – and definitely not for me – the dish was presented in the very authentic style with thin but dark gravy, strong with the flavour of ginger.
I am pleased to say that Zouk is still very good as far as I am concerned, and the overall dining experience makes it one of the top Bradford Venues.
Zouk Tea Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon