Restaurant review: Desi Buffet, Birkby

DO YOU know what Desi means? I have to confess that I didn’t.

Desi Buffet in Birkby

DO YOU know what Desi means? I have to confess that I didn’t.

But having looked it up, I now know that Desi refers to people or products from the Indian subcontinent. It comes from Sanskrit and literally means “from the country”.

The reason for my etymological exploration was that I has been asked to review the new Desi Buffet housed in the former Horseshoe pub in Blacker Road. It was opened at the end of August by the proprietors of the Kebabish restaurant in Huddersfield town centre.

I have to confess, I am not the ideal candidate for an all-you-can-eat buffet. More of a sheep than a lion, I prefer to graze a little and often rather than devour a huge meal in one go.

I racked my brains to think of someone who could do the buffet real justice and came up with the ideal candidate: Tony Booth.

Tony is a well known in the area through his rugby playing days as a prop forward with Huddersfield (Fartown in his day) and his after-dinner speaking. But mostly he’s known for the vast amount of food and drink he can consume in one sitting. We went on Tuesday and were accompanied by his long-suffering wife Michelle.

The outside was bright and welcoming on a cold, dark night, with strings of multi-coloured lights draped over the traditional stone exterior.

The cafe-style interior can best be described as functional. It was spotlessly clean and well lit with white walls and Formica tables, but could have benefited from a few homely touches.

There were places for light fittings on the interior walls, which presumably the owners are going to add in the near future, along with a few pictures.

The cleanliness was borne out by the highly-prized five-star food hygiene rating from Kirklees proudly displayed in the window.

There is a further room upstairs and the staff’s smart black polo shirts proudly bore the legend “Desi Buffet – Restaurant and Banqueting Suite.”

Several tables were already occupied by a mainly, but not entirely, Asian clientele with an age range from about five to 75. We were seated at one of the 24 tables and ordered drinks. No alcohol is served here, so we plumped for two diet cokes and a mango lassi.

We looked at the menu and were staggered at the prices. The full buffet was only £6.99 for adults (£4.99 for children under 10 and free for the under-fives) I immediately began to feel sorry for the owners as Tony’s eyes lit up at the rows of pristine silver tureens laid out on white tablecloths at the bottom of the restaurant.

There were five starters on offer: chicken wings, onion bhajis, seekh kebabs, vegetable spring rolls and chicken tikka. Nearby was a salad bar with the usual suspects, plus chickpeas and a range of sauces and pickles.

After two platefuls incorporating all five starters and the salad bar, washed down by a giant jug of thick yellow mango lassi, Tony had already had more than his £7 worth and we hadn’t even begun on the main courses.

The lassi was like nectar, exquisitely delicious. The waiter had retreated around a corner to make it, presumably so that we couldn’t see the secret ingredients and million calories which made it taste so heavenly.

The starters were all good and we particularly enjoyed the tikka, small and tender pieces of chicken breast in a spicy coating, and the mincemeat kebabs, all of which were fresh and spicy.

The Desi prides itself on the freshness of the dishes and indeed, this was the case on our visit. A chef was on hand cooking food as we ate and nothing looked or tasted like it had been sitting there for any length of time.

Before going for our main courses, Michelle and I reminded Tony of the restaurant’s sensible “fair use buffet policy”, which states that you can eat as much as you want, but advises you only to take small amounts and not to waste food.

We needn’t have worried. He polished off a further two large platefuls without hardly pausing for breath. In fact, we did not see any wasted food during our hour and a half there.

Main courses were chicken jalfrezi, biryani and karahi, lamb handi, mixed vegetable curry and keema (mincemeat) karahi. One new dish was paya, a curry made from lambs’ trotters. Tony naturally tried it, but admitted to being “not too struck on it”. It is probably a delicacy and a taste he has not yet acquired.

The vegetable curry was delicious, as was the keema karahi. All the curries were full of flavour and on the spicy side. The freshly-baked nan breads were wonderful, as good as we’ve eaten in any restaurant.

For those with a sweet tooth there was a tureen of zarda, a sweet, orange rice, for dessert.

The meal was unbelievable value for money. Some of the cuts of meat in the curries were not the most expensive, but everything was tasty and fresh. Even if the price goes up a bit, as it surely will when word gets out, the buffet still represents fantastic value – it’s cheaper than eating in.

Tony’s verdict was: “It serves simple curries, nothing fancy, but it is good, wholesome food and excellent value.”

Michelle added: “I will definitely come again and I’ll bring Tony, it’s easier and cheaper to fill him up here than at home.”

Verdict: Decent food at a fantastic price. When news spreads, Desi Buffet will be very, very busy.

Desi Buffet

80 Blacker Road, BirkbyHuddersfield HD1 5HN

Tel: 01484 549775

Opening hours: Seven days a week for buffet 5pm to 10pm, lunch noon to 4pm, breakfast Saturday and Sunday 10am to noon

Children: Welcome

Disabled access: Partial, phone for details

The bill: £25.50 for three, including soft drinks.

Would you go back? Yes definitely, it would be daft not to.

 

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