Tuesday, 24 April 2012

International Yet Again

I managed to squeeze a quick trip to the International the other day.
Strangely I was the only diner on this occasion?  Although I did visit mid-afternoon, so may be just a funny time.
Always top notch, I was soon breaking into my complimentary poppadom and perusing the menu deciding what to treat myself this time… Garlic Chili Chicken jumped out at me.
The dish did exactly what it said on the tin.  It was strong in garlic and also offered sufficient heat to let you know you were being spoken to!!  It was simply great.
This was yet another fantastic dish and overall experience from the International.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Akbar’s The Café Quickie – Excellent Service.


After the recent very successful Bradford Curry eating outing to Akbar’s Café, we didn’t need much persuasion to revisit on the spur of the moment when the opportunity arose the other week.

Again, even at noon, the restaurant was already buzzing.  I ordered the Lamb and Spiniach Handi again, and a naan… again, and fish masala for Izzy… hhmm… again!!  And why not – it was lovely last time.   Big Tone ordered a biryani.

Little tear away still treated to an ice cream
Although it was busy, we were rather alarmed to be told by the waiter that there would be 20 to 30 minute wait for our food!!  Probably the biryani we thought, and set too trying to entertain a short on patience and getting hungry 2 year old toddler.  To Akbar’s credit, they must have seen we were struggling somewhat with Izzy, as her patience wore thing, and the food must have been pushed through the kitchen in double time.  Our meals arrived in a fraction of the stated time.

What joy – a settled 2yr old, happy with her fish, and happy Dad with his beautiful Lamb and Spinach Handi, that was  wonderfully rich, meaty, and irony from the spinach.  Oh and a more than happy Grandpa with his biryani.  Quality food, with no evidence of corner cutting to get everything out to us quickly, is deserving of merit. 

Yet another top draw Akbar’s experience.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Punjab Sweet House & Grill Centre

Punjab Sweet House & Grill Centre,
122-126 Listerhills Rd,

01274 720308 ()
24th March 2012 @ ~21:00
(Rob, Gill), Jenny, Pete, Ian, Lara Lynda and John (me)

Pre-Curry Watering Holes
No children on this trip, so a proper pub-crawl - albeit short - had been engineered in to the start of this Bradford Curry eating trip. 
Inside the Sparrow
First up was the Sparrow Bier Café, on North Parade, and a very popular little beer drinking café-bar it was too.  Pretty cool with exotic beer advertising plaques on the wall, and little Formica tables and chairs.  Although specializing in beer, we started with a couple of bottle of wine – just to get the evening going you understand – so can’t really comment on the beer quality.  Basically, there were a number of speciality beers, including local ales, on draft, and also bottled continental types too.  It was noted as being, by a member of our party, “my new favourite place in Bradford for a drink” - high praise indeed and I’m sure it’ll be on the hit list for pre-curry drinks in the future.
Next was The Castle Hotel.  Here, a famous old Bradford drinking den was visited by us for the first time.  To be honest I’ve never really done much drinking in Bradford really – probably shows.  The Castle Hotel is a pretty bog standard ‘oldie worldy’ pub with a good selection of Real Ales.  I understand it to be popular with the CAMARA types.  I had a pint of something, which name escapes me, but was quite hoppy I recall.
Inside the Fighting Cock
The belly was rumbling now, but one final drink was to be taken at, from what I understand to be, the Bradford pub that towers above all other Bradford pubs – The Fighting Cock.  You see, again, I’ve never been.  I’ve been aware of its presence, and driven past and seen all the beer barrels out side but never stepped inside.  It certainly looks the business, and was expecting a real dark and dingy, small, spit and sawdust type of place.  How wrong I was.  It was full of trendy types sipping at their artisan real ales.  Surprisingly large inside, it was very reminiscing of Fanny’s in Shipley, which we visited a couple of months ago.  It is a Bradford institution and one not to be missed.  Dutch lager was my weapon of choice.  It was good, it was lager.
Another big plus point for the Fighting Cock is that it’s just around the corner from the Punjab Sweet House & Grill Centre.
The Mixed Sizzling Starter
Punjab don’t seem to like to advertise, and don’t have a web site!!  Other than driving past on occasion, the Punjab has passed me by entirely.  However, word of mouth is a powerful thing, and once probing the enigma that is the Punjab Sweet House and Grill  Centre, it was clear that the establishment is held in high regard.  Therefore, I was hoping to find a hidden gem and something a little special off the beaten track.  Also, the aforementioned Fighting Cock was around the corner.
The Reality
The extended drinking time meant we arrived at the Punjab gone 9pm.  This was good because the tea time rush was starting to ease some what – when we passed on our way the ‘Cock it was heaving.
Atmospheric Shot of Punjab
The open kitchen was a nice to see and it was good to spend a few moments watching the chefs producing the fresh food with bursts of flames and bangs and clatters, and loading the tandoors with freshly rolled nanns.  The Punjab was looking promising.
Décor fell into the posh café style.  It was clean and presentable.  There is also an attached sweet centre, but this was closed by the time we left.  We’ll have to ensure an earlier eating time for our next visit.
Inside the Punjab
No complimentary poppadoms to munch on as we perused the menu, but these were ordered as a pre starter to our Special Mixed Grill.  We asked for the chicken wings to be swapped for more chicken tikka, which was not a problem; and the dish arrived spitting and sizzling on its red hot cast iron plinth.  All aspects of the dish (lamb chops, chicken tikka and kebabs) were wonderful – moist, succulent, full of flavour with spice that danced on the tongue and attacked every taste bud. 
Lamb Handi
The menu was full and varied as whole, but didn’t offer too many dish options beyond the standard fare seen all over Bradford.  However, the Lamb Handi (on the bone) jumped out at me as something worth trying.  I’m glad I did.  The dish was pomp and ceremony, and arrived bubbling away in a clay pot held aloft and heated by its own tea light fuelled holder - very grand and unique.  A new experience was about to be had I could tell.  As for the taste – it wasn’t all ‘talk and no trousers’ either – and the word rich doesn’t do it justice!!  I’m guessing all the marrow from the bones must have seeped out to produce a curry with depth of flavour far beyond the any I’ve sampled in this town… indeed the world.  The Handi was ultimate hedonistic decadence in curry form - quite simply gorgeous.
Drinks Policy and range
Punjab is strictly alcohol free.  Calibrate in the Fighting Cock – if that’s your bag – prior to your arrival, and enjoy the delights of tap water and lassi during your meal.
Another shot of the Lamb Handi
Lots of highlights – basically, for me, just a great night out from start to finish.  The Sparrow and the ‘Cock got the evening rolling with good booze and chat in atmospheric environs, then onto the Punjab where one of the – no THE - most lavish and decadent curry I’ve every eaten was savored to the last.
Only having too much enjoyment!! The enjoyment levels were at such heights we missed the last train.  Luckily the Punjab was on hand to sort appropriate transport for our party.  Still, it was an unnecessary taxi fare.  NB – this is not a reflection of slow service or anything – just us sitting in the boozer too long!!
The Damage
I didn’t notice the bill come around the table – again!!  Sorry.  I’m getting good at this.
The richness of my curry had taken its toll to a certain extent, resulting in indigestion and a small amount of squiffy tumminess to following morning.  But our livers thank us for the late finish in the Punjab and straight into a taxi home. 
We really found our hidden gem, and Punjab really lived up to the ‘word of mouth’ hype I’d come across on the internet.  Miss it out at your peril.