Things are on the up in Bradford.
At the top of town, generous upstarts are opening ace places selling that funny-tasting modern beer; someone’s finally cracking on with bringing the Odeon back to life; and, fifteen years after everyone else, we’re getting a Debenhams. Heady days.
We do some pretty bang-on curry in these parts, too. If you’re coming to the City and are unsure where to go, take our turmeric stained hand and allow us to lead the way.
Let’s start, Julie Andrews-style, at the very beginning with the triumvirate that’s as much a part of the city’s cultural heritage as Billy Pearce’s annual panto-turn.
The Kashmir, Karachi and The Sweet Centre have been around forever and you’ll observe that they’re either “timeless and unique” or “in need of a lick of paint” depending on how cheery of disposition you are. Dodgy décor aside, they’ve each got a loyal fanbase, a certain charm and are cheap as chips.
Renowned as much for their grilled stuff as their curries, Shimla’s came with quite the rep and didn’t disappoint. Smarter than the scuffed up Institutions but not as showy as some, the food was amongst the best we’d had. And who doesn’t enjoy watching a confusing game of NFL whilst necking their tea?
Purists can get a bit sniffy about the Mumtaz glitz, (expect marble, glass and – get this – cutlery), but beyond the bling the scran stood up to detailed scrutiny (greed) and, to us, was well worth the extra couple of quid you’re likely to pay than is the Bradford norm.
Further up the road, (get a taxi,) Bharat divided opinion and the debate rumbles on. The Chappatti Incident cast a gloomy shadow over tea, saved only by an explosive-in-a-good-way jalfrezi. As ever, you’re probably better off ignoring us and trusting the scores of regulars. You should know that by now.
The decor at Lala’s, a relative newcomer to Bradford, might have a touch of the Katie Prices about it, but don’t let the faux leather put you off; the menu is laminated and dog-eared thus Proper Curry House status is attained. We had a top notch Lamb Nihari, in which subtly spiced meat and peppery gravy benefited from a long slow simmer. So good, we undertook the doggy-bag walk of shame.
Been to watch Billy doing his mega-lolz panto thing at the Alhambra? Lucky you. The International’s not far away and if the ebullient host, quality food and surprisingly cheap prices aren’t enough of a draw, the gaffer’s more than happy to go and grab you some booze from the shop next door. Afterwards, have a paddle in City Park. Treat yourself.
Round the corner the catch-all menu at My Lahore (Lasagne, Shepherd’s Pie and Tuna Melts sit alongside the curry offerings) could easily be the catalyst for a pang of shit pub-food anxiety. Purists: stand down. The curries here are bang-on. The Chicken Karahi is a thick, tangy, clove-ridden winner of a dish that comes with a decent but not daft kick of spice. Given that they deliver, this place has become our go-to for a takeaway.
Offerings at Punjab Sweet House were a bit different to what we’d become accustomed to, with what could only be described as a derring-do attitude to ginger. The saucier, aromatic style made a nice change and starters from the grill are well renowned. You could, and indeed should, enjoy pre- or post- chow refreshments at the Fighting Cock round the corner.
Given that the scran’s often been hit and miss, and the place was in need of a refurb, our advocacy for Omar Khan’s probably came down to the fact that it has a bar. Hats off, then, to whoever’s responsible for giving the place a lick of paint. (The photos on the website are pre-op.) Our most recent visit was one of the better ones with the fish curry particularly on form. We only hope the signed picture of Saint Ainsley Harriot has gone to a good home.
You might have an Akbar’s in your own ken but they started in Bradford and it’s dead good, as reflected by the midweek full-house. There are cheaper and more convenient options in the city, granted, but standards here are high and reputation speaks for itself. Well worth ticking off the list.
At the top of town a taxi office separates Sheesh Mehal and Westgate. Both have been spruced up (the definition of ‘shabby chic’ can be stretched only so far) and whilst we can only comment that the former was ‘proper nice’, the latter, we are told, plays host to many of the chefs from restaurants we’ve mentioned above, once they’ve managed to boot out the faction seeking sustenance after a cultured evening at one of the city’s popular discotheques.
If they’re full, go to K2 round the corner (the restaurant; the mountain’s a bit further.) Go hungry.
(Update – we tried to go to Westgate recently but words to the effect of ‘sorry old bean, still prepping’ were barked from the kitchen so we had a return visit to Sheesh Mehal next door where the madras was on fizzing form.)
A few points:
A tenner’s likely to get you a starter and a main in most places.
Not everywhere sells or allows booze, but some are BYO even if they don’t advertise the fact.
There are loads more. We’ll add them as we go.