REMEMBER the Red Onion restaurant on Manchester Road at Thornton Lodge? Well, I've some bad news. It's closed, I'm afraid.
But where there’s bad news there can also be good news lurking in the background and the positive note here is that its replacement is another one for curry lovers.
The new name over the door is Aisha’s and it’s had an internal revamp. In short, the decorators have been in along with those with an eye for soft internal furnishings and judging by the deep purples and dark green wall lights I wouldn’t necessarily rule out Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.
It’s still a small two-storey restaurant on the right hand side of Manchester Road – just after you've gone through the traffic lights at the junction with Blackmoorfoot Road.
And don’t worry about parking. There’s a car park round the back that many didn't know existed. They will now as the new owner’s going to get some illuminated signs put up pointing the way.
So it’s goodbye to the vibrant Red Onion décor and red leather seats. Some even had go faster stripes down them and wouldn’t have shamed the inside of a Mini all revved up and raring to go on another Italian job.
Instead the walls are deep, comfortable shades, the lighting soft and the tables have quality tablecloths on them.
Its aim is to be a restaurant for couples and small groups, not a late night curry house.
The Red Onion owners came here from Manchester. The new owners are from Bradford and you can be sure of a warm welcome.
They’re eager to please and front of house is attentive and keen to provide quality service along with quality food to put them quickly on the curry connoisseurs’ map.
When my wife Ruth and I popped in they were offering a free starter to try to get things up and running, so it’d have seemed rude not to accept.
A bit of this, a bit of that with onion bhajis, seekh kebabs, soft and tender chicken tikka and yet the chicken wings – not something I’d have naturally chosen – were probably the best, succulent and well marinated.
On to the mains which were Aisha’s Special Balti – a combination of lamb, chicken, mushrooms and potatoes cooked with fresh spices.
Ruth chose karahi chicken and keema mix. It’s rare we’d mix meat like this and wasn't sure if it would work.
And to go with them a pilau rice and, one I’ve not had before, a potato pilau rice.
Now when you’re in a totally new restaurant you don't know what to expect – and this became a tale of the unexpected.
Both rice dishes were finely flavoured – not your common a garden pilau here – with decent-sized chunks of potato in mine and flooded with flavour. You could certainly pick out the saffron.
And the mains came in big dishes because they were … big.
One look and you knew tea for the next day was sorted too.
And meaty too. If they’re out to grab the attention with the signature dish the mixed Balti then they've done it. Both were robust, powerfully flavoured dishes with just the right mix of sauce and meat. And the fusion of different meats certainly works, leaving any trepidation totally unfounded.
Other dishes include chicken and chilli balti cooked with pepper and green chillies that’d give even the hardiest taste buds a good kicking while ones to try next time may be seafood balti – fish, prawns and king prawns cooked in delicate spices – or karahi keema aloo and matter that’s as traditionally Punjabi as you'd find anywhere.
Aisha's gives good value for money and isn’t that what everyone’s after these days?
We'd finished off around half of each dish in the restaurant, but were then well and truly ‘beaten.’
And it turned the next day’s tea into a fine dining experience.
264 Manchester Road, Huddersfield, HD4 5AA
Opening hours: Tuesday to Thursday 5pm to 11pm; Friday and Saturday 5pm to 12 midnight; Sunday 4pm to 10.30pm. Monday closed.
Disabled access: Yes, but no disabled toilets although the toilets are quite large. There is a step down to them.
The bill: £25.70 (including drinks and starters were free)
Would you go back: Aye.