Restaurant Review: Kashmiri Aroma, Wakefield
CITY centre curry houses tend to be a bit, err, rocking. The last one I went to – LaLa’s in Wakefield – was a riot of laughter, nay gaiety, and nostril-wrenching fumes from the procession of “sizzling” platters.
It was packed with eaters – and importantly for profits – very thirsty prime-of-life lads and lasses wolfing the spicy treats and big glasses of ale and lager. I cannot remember what I ate – not a condemnation, just my memory – which focused on the high-energy diners and the reek of the sizzling food. The imperative to ask what you’d like to drink – often when still adjusting yourself at the table, is significant. It’s as if a diner can’t get started before having a glass of (usually) alcohol to hand. The cynic may scoff that it is also a useful start to the eventual tab.
Parsimonious friends snipe that “drinks” are a major profit maker for restaurants – viz, the tripling of the cost of a bottle of wine. Indeed, my bills when entertaining nudge half and half for food and drinks. So it was at the Kashmiri Aroma. The trio of Kashmiri Aroma restaurants avoid town centres. The one at Ilkley is in open countryside, at Sheffield you are on the way to Derbyshire and in Wakefield it is on a business park, between the centre and junction 41 of the M1 motorway.
It is here that I called on spec mid afternoon on a Sunday, and then again on a Monday evening. Both times, the car park was busy; both times, the £12.95 eat-your-fill buffet was in full swing.
I enjoyed each visit – the first for a light meal, which began with an excellent dall soup (I shall use the menu spelling) with a mix of lentils and a strong punch of garlic and ginger and background spicing. We tried the medley of vegetarian starters – samosa, onion bhaji, pakora (vegetables, paneer cheese, mushroom) with a decent crunchy salad and delicious chutneys and sauces, good roti (not too stiff, not too floppy) and pilau rice (slightly greasy).
The pastry cases were nicely dry, though, and it all tasted very good. The sizzling meaty tandoori mix seemed to hit the spot, too. It was a good feed for under a tenner each.
Front of house the staff and management, all male, mostly wear black. Except for the one in an ivory jacket, watching and checking. It is smart, alert service.
The room is open plan, would suit any sort of food: dark grey flooring, wood chairs or banquets with grey backs and purple seats; more mauve shades in the long window drapes, tables with real white linen, heavy cutlery, decent glasses, not a paper napkin in sight. Overall: understated and elegant. Better than most.
I often do a trial run – to see if a place is worth a review. The impression was endorsed on the return visit. We had two starters, two main courses with rice and bread and a side dish, one pudding which came to about £40. It is licensed and offers the familiar faux Indian lagers and ales and wine from £13.95. The Washington State 13.5 per cent Stimson merlot was £18.50. That is “only” a doubling of the usual retail price – and makes a change from US wines from California. It was recommended to go with the Afghani lamb stew which was to follow first courses of (three) king prawns and a fillet of bass. The seasoning on each was lovely. The prawns were half in, half out of their carapace, lending more visual impact but needing a bit of forking. The fillet was nicely judged, with just a hint of charring. Anyway, really delicious, with a tang from, variously, lime juice, green chillies, nutmeg (faintly) and cardamom (ditto).
The Afghani lamb recipe was a belter, cooked in olive oil with ginger and chillies and tomatoes until it was a tender integrated delight.
My main course was split large yellow peas, cooked until soft with squash (or pumpkin) which remained pleasantly firm, with a hearty sauce. I’d definitely have this again – were it not for several other vegetarian dishes yet to try. I’d ask for the ghee reducing, too.
The menu holds lots of allure and one large surprise, a whole lamb filled with rice, spuds, eggs and spices, marinated and baked and served with side dishes, breads and salads. It costs £250 and is designed to feed 15.
Jottings: Try the side dish of bhindi bhaji – a robust meal of chopped fresh tubes with a pungent ginger and chilli sauce.
Do not order more than you can eat. The helpings are generous.
Food sourcing: other than being told it is halal, high quality and freshly made daily, no mission statement on suppliers. That’s a familiar omission with Asian restaurants and should be addressed.
Verdict: I’ll be back.
Kashmiri Aroma, 2 Herriot Way, Paragon Business Village, A650, Wakefield W1 2UJ. Tel: 01924 373223 and email@example.com. Open every day for dinner; Sunday from 1pm until close, also for lunch Monday to Thursday. Disabled access.
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Weather for Yorkshire
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 14 C
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Wind direction: North
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