Every time we have passed the Syhiba restaurant the place looks bustling.
It’s on the main street through Sowerby Bridge and the full glass front shows clearly how many diners are there ...the best advert there could be to promote a restaurant so long as it’s not really quiet.
But this is full of life with space for 92 diners downstairs and a banqueting suite upstairs for a further 100 upstairs.
We went last Friday and it was packed.
The first sensation to hit you is the noise. With every table full the sound reverberates off the wooden floor and the huge windows which means there is no space for soft furnishings to cushion the sound.
You can take your own booze - always a big hit with punters as the price of drinks can massively bump up your bill - but be warned that you can only pay by cash or, believe it or not, cheque. Yes, cheque. These guys are certainly old school.
And there are your usual old school curries on the menu but it’s an extensive choice. Take your reading glasses ... you’re going to need them. Wife Ruth and I took friends and curry fans Mark and Shirley along for a third and fourth opinion.
Starters were cheese and meat samosa, prawns on puri, mushroom and potato puri and fish tikka.
The fish tikka was a cracking starter with the delicate fish the perfect contrast to its spicy coat and resisted the temptation to be too dry, both puris were packed with filling - masses of prawns - and the mushroom and potato was plucked from an extensive choice for vegetarians. The puri were more like chapatis than melt-in-the-mouth puri though. Mark’s two samosas though could certainly have done with bigging up - they paled in comparison to the other starters.
Mains were Posh Spice (£7.95) - not named after Mrs Beckham by the way - a mix of chicken, meat, prawns and king prawns cooked in ‘a special sauce’; chicken tikka garlic balti (£7.95), chicken pieces marinated in yoghurt, herbs and spices cooked over charcoal and roasted in balti and ‘a large helping of garlic’; Nambali Special (£7.45), tender chicken and meat cooked with garlic, ginger, tomatoes, fresh chopped chillies and garnished with coriander and Afghani Murgh (£8.95), sliced chicken breast cooked with fresh tomatoes, garlic, ginger, herbs, spices, black pepper, yoghurt and fresh green peppers.
So a lot going on in these dishes but did they live up to their billing?
Well, Meatloaf once sang two out of three ain’t bad so I guess three out of four ain’t bad either.
The Posh Spice delivered the taste variety it promised without being a mouth burner and Ruth loved the Afghani Murgh. It was the most expensive dish of the night but, hey, I guess she’s worth it.
The Nambali Special was supposed to be medium but it was on the hot side thanks to the chillies that weren’t in short supply.
And then the fourth, Mark’s chicken tikka garlic balti in which he felt the garlic was in short supply as he struggled to find that particular taste sensation. He also felt the chicken was ‘bouncy’ and was left underwhelmed.
We ordered three nans – garlic and onions, garlic and coriander and peshwari – and realised once the first two arrived hanging from one of those massive spiky holders we’d overdone it. The peshwari arrived on a plate and was just the right sweetness.
The restaurant apparently began life as a takeaway and it’s popularity has just grown and grown.
Service was efficient and friendly. Watching the interaction between customers and staff it’s clear to see there’s a lot of loyalty and repeat custom here.
And that’s why it’s always so packed.
57 Wharf Street
Phone 01422 835959
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs 5pm-11pm; Friday 5pm-12.30am; Saturday 4pm-12.30am; Sunday 4pm-11pm.
Disabled: Access apart from two stairs and disabled toilets.
The bill: £65.70 for four
Would you go back: Yes but probably during a weekday evening when it may be quieter