467, Bradford RoadHuddersfield
Venue: Mumbai Spice
Tel: 01484 537005
Opening hours: Open seven days a week: Sunday to Thursday, 5.30 to 11.30pm. Friday and Saturday: 5.30 to midnight.
Disabled access: Yes
The bill: £45.20 including drinks
GOOD food ... check. Smart decor ... check. Great value ... check.
Anyone brave enough to open a new restaurant in these tough times has got to meet all these criteria to give themselves any chance of success.
And that's exactly what they've done at one of Huddersfield's newest Indian restaurants, at the former Ashbrow pub.
Which is why the place is packed when four of us turn up, without having booked a table, on a Saturday evening.
OK, so we have quite a wait for a table, but there's worse things to do than sip an ice cold Kingfisher beer while you pore over the menu.
The staff are both courteous and realistic about the time we'll have to wait, which is just as it should be. Being told a table will be free in 10 minutes only to be still sitting there 40 minutes later is never a good experience, especially as we have our 11-year-old twins Eve and Niall with us, having had them surgically removed from their DS consoles.
And we're not the only people to decide that it's worth the wait. There a nice variety of clientele present – both English and Asian families and couples, with a good, background buzz of an atmosphere.
The first thing you notice about the menu is just how reasonable the prices are.
We order four starters with a view to mixing and matching – onion bhaji, vegetable and meat samosas (£2.25 each) and a seekh kebab (£2.50). Mumbai Spice is the kind of restaurant where you feel comfortable about swapping portions and soon a little bit of each starter is in front of us.
And it's all good. The bhajis get a big thumbs up for the light, crispy batter and the kebab has a good kick of chilli. Each starter comes with the traditional salad of iceberg lettuce and tomatoes and a mint and yoghurt sauce. The salad ingredients are fantastically fresh.
Then it's on to the mains and we order a broad, family-friendly selection of dishes. We go for a chicken kurma (£4.85), keema bhuna (£4.70), lamb rogan josh (£4.95) and a chicken dupiaza (£4.85). We order one family nan, which comes hanging from a huge stainless steel tree.
It's the kind of thing that Gordon Ramsay would be throwing into a skip from the back door as an unnecessary gimmick but the kids thought it was great fun pulling off chucks of the light fluffy bread.
The kurma proves a little too mild even for the children's taste (to be fair it was billed as very mild) and by the end of the meal I find that's the one that's been left for me to Hoover up in traditional clear the table dad-style.
Being the martyr that I am, I manage to scoff the creamy dish of tender chicken without too much difficulty.
The salty minced lamb of the dopiaza goes down well with the two carnivorous males. The rogan josh with its coriander and tomato mix get my wife Geraldine's vote and Eve gives top marks to the onion and herby mix of the chicken dupiaza.
Our wine choice is a very reasonably priced Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon red which comes in at £12.50 and is robust enough to stand its ground against all the strong flavours.
It all adds up to superb value but there’s a lot more to Mumbai Spice than a cheap and cheerful experience.
Speciality dishes include the Nawabi Kharai at £10.95, a mix of chicken and lamb tikka, tandoori chicken and king prawn. There are also a number of fish and seafood dishes around the £8 mark.
Away from the menu, the interior of this once rather dark local pub has been transformed into an ultra contemporary dining area.
The clever use of a mirrored wall gives an illusion of extra space and the twinkling spotlights in a ceiling add a light, airy feel. The contrasting brown and cream leather seating looks just right.
Would I go again? Undoubtedly, but if it was a Saturday I’d book a table.