Monday, 22 October 2012

Awadh Restaurant and Bar

Awadh Restaurant and Bar,                                                                                                          
1060 Manchester Road,                                                                                                               
BD5 8NN                                                                                                                                   

Tel:   01274 725565                                                                                                                    

Friday 12th October 2012 (evening)

Lynda and John


'tis a bit bleak outside
With Awadh being a little off the beaten track, what with being right up Manchester Road, it had falling below the radar somewhat, and my expectations were of indifference really.  However, the restaurant had been spotted during Bradford Curry recon trips, and through various internet searches, and was deemed suitable to receive a Bradford Curry Club visit... During National Curry Week too - what could be better? 

Perusal of the on-line menu increased my expectations with the fact that award winning chef Zahir Khan was formerly Executive Chef for Sheraton Hotels in India, and also with Gordon Ramsey name drops.  I'm such a snob!

The Reality

Stairs up to the first floor restaurant
Our sensations endured on the dank and miserably chilly evening outside, were emulated, some what unfortunately, once inside Awadh, with our first impressions of the restaurant being similar!  The restaurant is approached from a spooky rear car park to a side door.  From here, a flight of stairs are climbed up to a sticky door - that needed quite a shove to open - before entering the first floor restaurant.  The decor was a tad tired, and reminiscent of maybe a previous Italian Restaurant incarnation?  All kind of terracotta in colour and with areas of polystyrene brick clad walls. There was also a strange fake rock cliff feature in one corner!  Anecdotal evidence suggests it was formerly Fryer Tucks Fish n Chip restaurant - of which the takeaway is still operational beneath.  However, the overwhelming sensation was one of cold!  Lynda dare not even take her coat off!  A few tables were taken, but the place was far from buzzing, and seemed a little atmosphereless.

We were initially seated in a lounge area, were given menus, and drink orders were taken.  A large bottle of Cobra for me.  The menu read amazingly well, and was essentially all Specials split into geographical sub menus of north, south east and west.  Very clever.  All the 'old favorites' and mild/European dishes were relegated to the back page.  In addition to the menu was a chalk board of daily specials, which was a nice touch.

Both Lynda and I spotted the Achari Paneer Tikka, on the Northern Menu, straight away, and it promised home made cottage cheese steeped in spices and finished in the tandoor  but she bagged it first.  Therefore, I plumped for Dhungar Maans Ke Sulle, from the Western Menu, which were grilled, spiced and smoked lamb scallops from the Rajasthan region. 

The Acharia Paneer Tikka was fantastic.  Two large cubes removed from a skewer with peppers, onions, etc.  The Paneer was soft and actually tasted cheesy  and was a far cry from the small, squeaky and flavourless chunks often served.  The spicing was subtle -  perhaps too subtle, but, on the other hand,  I guess just right not to mask the flavour of the Paneer.  I feel to cover the flavor of the actual cheese would have been a crime in this instance.  The Dhungar Maans Ke Sulle was much like a sizzling lamb chop dish, without the bones - lamb scallops seem to be the eye of meat from a chop - and were pretty good.  A touch on the dry side with a prominent taste of ginger, and a fair old kick, are my lasting thoughts.

For mains we both selected from the Northern Menu.  Lynda the Khan's Special Khorma, and me Lamb Chops Punjabi.  The special Khorma - Chef Gordon's (Ramsey?) favourite apparently - was slow cooked lamb shoulder in brown onion, garlic, ginger and spices... oh and a LOT of oil/ghee. Poor Lynda went a little green when it arrived.  Taste wise is was good - Lynda commented so - with a deep dark sweet flavour.  The meat had almost disintegrated into the loose sauce, forming a fairly smooth homogeneous mass, but it was difficult to see past the copious amounts of oil.  My Lamb Chops Punjabi was certainly better on the oil front, but to the layman both dishes looked pretty much the same - except mine had bones sticking out of it.  My dish did taste different though, and suggested that appearances are deceiving sometimes.  It was billed as char-grilled chops, tossed in onion, garlic, tomato, ginger and kahari masala, and I liked it a great deal - it was finger/rib bone licking, lip smacking fun to eat. Our accompanying garlic naan and chappati's were pretty bog standard, so nothing much to discuss.  However, after ordering I did spot a garlic, coriander and chili naan, on the Specials Board, which I wished ordered instead - oh well.

Drinks Policy and Range

A full range of beers and wines are available, along with softies of course, but only Fosters is on tap.  Cobra and Kingfisher are by the bottle.


Tucking in to the Lamb Chops Punjabi
The Achari Paneer Tikka was head and shoulders the stand out moment of the evening.  Light subtly spiced and tandoored cheese was exquisite to eat.  Next would have been my Lamb Chops Punjabi - it was an overall decent dish.

Low Lights

The generally cold restaurant and out of place decor lacked a welcoming feel.  Lynda found her curry oily - which it was - but overall we thought the food was good.

The Damage

Dear!  £43.  However, the biggest problem with the price, which I've just noticed while re visiting the menu whilst writing this, is that I think we were charged more for for everything than was printed on the menu!  For example, both our mains were listed on the menu as £7.50 each, but we were charged £8.50?  I have thrown the bill away but I pretty sure this was the case with everything we ordered. Surely, price increases can't be implemented until a menu re-print has been undertaken?  I wished I'd been more switched on during the evening.  We feel a little miffed at that to be honest.

The Aftershock

Lamb Chop Punjabi
Nothing fun, just home to bed.  Not wanting to be overly graphic, but we were a little 'windy' the day after.  However, the real aftershock is just the niggling 'being charged more than the menu price', that has cast a shadow over proceedings.


Well, Awadh certainly are trying to push the boundaries of your average Bradford Curry, and are doing things a little differently.  I liked the north, south, east and west menu's, and overall the food was very good, if locally a little oily. Apart from the slightly bleak atmosphere in the restaurant, Awadh is all round pretty good.  If it was on my door step, I would go most weekends I'm sure.  However, for me, I don't think it quite has the attraction to pull me so far from the town centre on a regular basis, but certainly every so often, I will be a repeat visitor.

Monday, 15 October 2012

The Kashmir

Once in a while I like to pop into The Kashmir.  It's like my home away from home, and the place I have eaten most Bradford Curry in over the years.  Although in my youth I never ever really went anywhere else, now, with my new found Bradford Curry knowledge, I no longer consider it the best, except for the bhaji's and naan that is!  Recently too, curry has improved a great deal.

However, the Kashmir soft spot remains to this day, and still remains the place I would take a newbie to experience hardcore Bradford Curry.

Old Kashmir sign overlooking the car park to the rear.  If I told you they
were bullet holes* would you be surprised?

'WELCOME TO THE KASHMIR'.  Down these stairs, into the bowels of
t'Kash, where perpetual night reigns, is one of THE all time
Bradford Curry eating experiences. 

No windows!  It's forever any time of the day you like in the Kashmir.

The Kashmir's Onion Bhaji - My favourite.  Crispy onion shards give way to
softer doughy insides.  Not overly powerful on the onion flavour front, I
like to much them with the raw  onion salad and dipped in the mint sauce.

The Meat Karahi excellent too.  Rich but not overly oily.  The dry(ish) texture
of the dish is also and meat rich, and gives you something good to gnaw at,
and very garlicky. 
kashmir Restaurant on Urbanspoon
* I elaborate for dramatic effect.  I don't think for one minute they are!

Monday, 8 October 2012

World Curry Festival 2012

For 2012, the World Curry Festival was to roll into, surely it's spiritual home, Bradford.  And to the recently unveiled and excellent City Park.  The Park provided a brill location for the Festival, and I thought a vast improvement on last years Leeds city center venue.  Here there was room to move, peruse the stalls, and also plenty of safe space for the children to scamp about, and get wet through with gay abandon.

Bradford City Park
Alas, this year, due to other commitments, we didn't get chance to visit the festival until late Sunday afternoon.   When we arrived there was still loads of people milling about, and some lengthy queues at the stalls.  However, the rain soon came and, by about 14:30, most of the lingering folk had started to depart, and the atmosphere some what went with them.  Rain and cold, and no people resulted in some of the stalls calling it a draw and shutting up shop.  I understand the festival was due to shut up shop about 4pm anyway.

Street from Huddersfield
 Therefore, we made it our mission to make sure we sampled all we wanted to before being turfed out.

First up was Street, from Huddersfield.  They were offering a 3 course meal in a box for £5!  Sounded too good to miss really.  In my box was Spud Scallop, Channa Chaat Spring Roll, Chip Shop Fish (??), Seek Kebab, Tandori Roasted Wings, Chicken Karahi, Creamed Daal, rice and puri.  Also an afters of Falooda was included.  Sounds like quite a feast, and it was.  A bit cool, but all excellent.  I felt a little underwhelmed with the potato scallop, and the Fish Shop Fish (which was just like (nice) Fish Shop Fish - fine on a Friday, but not what I was expecting at a Curry Festival?).  The chicken Karahi was a little watery, but was tasty enough.  The highlight was the Falooda.  Not something I've had before, and was a sort of pink, sweet, noodle, soup.  Quite irresistible.

Lahori Grill
With many places starting to pack up, Lahori - not sure where they are based - started doing a roaring trade.  I went for Samosa Chaat to start with, before moving onto a Seekh Kebab wrap.  Thew Samosa Chaat was OK I suppose.  It was a bit dry, and lacked a bit of punch.  The chickpeas were a touch 'loose' and firm, and the dish just lack a bit of punch.  The Wrap on the other hand was good.  Cooked on the grill in front of you fresh kebabs were meaty, firey and well seasoned.  All wrapped up with sauce and salad made for a tasty snack

Just time for a quick nosy around the theater.  Some bloke was doing a demo and cooking Fish Karahi I think.  We were all cold, wet and tired by now, so we headed for home.

I wished we'd made it to the festival a little earlier on in the weekend, when perhaps a little more enthusiasm and atmosphere may have been apparent.  I got the impression a very busy weekend had been had though, and loved the venue.  I'll be back next year, that's for sure.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Sheesh Mahal Study Continues...

Right then.  The study of the Sheesh Mahal's Lamb Methi rumbles on.  Another opportunity to sample this splendid dish presented itself just the other day, and was an opportunity not to be turned down. The Sheesh's new early opening times now allows such indulgence with ease.
Being hungry, I thought I would treat myself to a starter - onion bhaji.  It was a fair old portion, and, being a lone diner, with no one to help out, I rather wished I hadn't ordered it!  However, for me at least, the portion size was the only notable attribute to the dish!  Yes readers, I think I may have found a chink in Sheesh Mahal's armor.  Their onion bhaji was not exactly to my taste, to be honest, and comprised large slithers of onion coated in a flimsy, brittle batter.  The batter tended to fall from the onion if handled too vigorously.  However, this did not stop me from eating the whole lot!

On the other hand, the Methi was, without question, another lesson in perfection.  A little more open textured than the super heavy version served on my last visit.  Here, it was possible to identify herbs, veg, etc  within the sauce.  Still thick and sumptuous, it was a delight.

So, another successful Sheesh Mahal visit done and dusted.  No one would ever accuse me of being stuck in a rut!