Yo! Tuk Tuk does good food and brings something a bit different to the East Riding pub scene, but it’s not without its flaws.
At a time when pubs are closing at an alarming rate and opening a new restaurant is riskier than ever, it’s good to see innovation and practicality meld together to create something like Yo! Tuk Tuk. I
It’s a curry house and takeaway located inside a pub. Everyone wins; the pub gets rent (and maybe a few spill-over punters) and the restaurant pays reduced rent (and maybe gets a few spill-over punters). Win/win. All you have to do is ensure the food is good enough for your customers to block out the un-restaurantness of the pub. The food at Yo! Tuk Tuk is indeed good, but with a few caveats.
Before we eat, let’s get the basics out off the way. Firstly, Yo! Tuk Tuk is situated in the back room of the Windmill Inn on Lairgate in Beverley. It’s your typical town centre pub that mainly relies on a dwindling crowd of regulars to stay afloat. Enter chef Aminul Choudhury and his plan to offer modern Indian cuisine in the back room. Secondly, the name – Yo! Tuk Tuk. I’m as annoyed by that ill-placed exclamation mark as you are. Let’s leave it there. Least said, soonest mended.
The concept is Indian street food (which isn’t new, of course, but it is still relatively novel in the East Riding), so the menu introduces us to favourites from Delhi and Lucknow and various other parts of the subcontinent. There’s fish curry from Goa and burner chicken from Bengal and they’re fairly familiar and will appeal to the confirmed comfy curry-head. More intriguing, though, are the personalised and fusion dishes.
The first of these that struck me was Amins bangers and mash. I’m assuming this is a dish created by Amin but the lack of apostrophe left me guessing. It’s basically just bangers and mash served on a banana leaf, but the sausage is made of lamb and spiced up a bit. The mash is tinged with masala and you are offered a choice of methi gravy – mild, hot and I-wouldn’t-go-near-it. Hot or not, it’s a solid starter and a welcome twist on a classic.
I forgot to mention, along with the menu I was given a little cone filled with Bombay mix. Nothing unusual there, but this had fresh onion, coriander and other stuff mixed in with it. First time I’d had it like that and it improved the experience. I can’t go back to just dry mix now.
Before mains, a flourish. To the table was delivered a bamboo basket, billowing dry ice pouring from it. Inside a test tube filled with mango lassi. Just a mouthful to cleanse the palate and provide some theatre, but most welcome.
I went for railway lamb curry just to see how they fared with relatively straight dishes. Very good it was, too. Tender lamb, well-spiced and served with a half-pint mug (literally) of plain rice. I’d have liked a choice of rice but there wasn’t one. I’m also assuming there isn’t a tandoor oven in the kitchen as the chapatis were a little flaccid and doughy. I merrily forced it all down, though – along with a side order of Bombay potato – and then went back to the bar for another pint of lager.
This is a good juncture to discuss the downsides of running a restaurant in a pub. You have to go to the bar for your drinks. No table service here. As I was dining alone, I found this a bit annoying. Others may not. The decor is a little tired as well. My final gripe is other people. Because the pub has doors front and back, there is steady through-stream of punters who have just nipped out for a fag. This adds unfortunate and unwelcome wafts of smoke, which could easily deter the more sensitive diner.
On returning with my fresh pint, I found another palate cleanser bamboo basket arriving, billowing dry ice again. This time it contained a couple of spoonfuls of delicious pistachio ice cream.
Then came dessert. Yet another billow of dry ice, this time shrouding a medical-looking sort-of gourd thing with gulab jamun and more delicious pistachio ice cream. The warm and cold and sweet together worked superbly but I could have done with a bigger portion for it to really satisfy. Also, sorry to sound a bit of a misery, but the dry ice thing gets tired quick. It’s great once, but three times? As my nana used to say when one of us grandkids did our party trick too often: “You’re a good turn but you’re on too long.”
All in all, a mixed bag. I really admire that Yo! Tuk Tuk is having a go in an unusual setting, I like much of what they’re doing with their food and I’ll definitely return to try some other dishes. I hope, though, that the Windmill is just a step toward a more permanent, dedicated location and I hope also that they find a large enough clientele to prosper. I spent just over £28 (excluding drinks, obviously) and that’s good value for what I experienced. People can be much pickier than me, though, and the little things may stack up just enough to discourage them.
Windmill Inn, 53 Lairgate, Beverley, HU17 8ET. Tel: 01482 881 955; Open: 5-10pm, Tuesday to Sunday.
Drink selection 3/5