THE contest for the best curry in the Holme Valley is definitely hotting up.
Honley residents have welcomed the news that the popular Balooshai is scheduled to return to the village in the former Coach and Horses premises.
But the latest restaurant to throw its hat into the ring is Pink Elephant which opened seven weeks ago in the right hand half of the Foresters Arms pub at Moorbottom.
In these difficult times for public houses across the land, this entrepreneurial idea which involves the Pink Elephant owners renting two rooms from the pub for their 50-cover restaurant is to be welcomed.
It also makes the ancient British tradition of going to the pub and then on for a curry suddenly get a whole lot easier.
When we visited last Friday, both the pub in its reduced quarters and the restaurant were busy and this little corner of Honley was buzzing.
Another advantage of this system is that the drinks list in the Pink Elephant is incomparable – it is everything available in the Foresters. The waiters simply pop across to the bar for the drinks.
Joan and Bryan, two friends who visited the restaurant on Sunday night, said that there was a pub quiz going on in the Foresters and the Pink Elephant was providing onion bhajis for the participants. What an excellent, mutually beneficial and multi-cultural business model!
The Pink Elephant describes its cuisine as “Indian and Bangladeshi fusion cooking” incorporating “wild and untamed tastes”. According to the bright pink menu, its meals are all freshly prepared and all spices are freshly ground for the dishes.
It has been set up by businessmen Jay, Dillon and Imran. The restaurant business runs in the family for Jay, as his brother Athiq Rahman owns Bengal Spice in Holmfirth.
The interior is quite plain, but warm as it is currently festooned with Christmas decorations. The premises have not undergone a major facelift since their former life as a pub.
The walls are off-white, the front room has a carpet, while the second room has a parquet floor. Black leather chairs are set at wooden tables with brass numbers, presumably inherited from the Foresters.
We received a warm welcome and were seated at a table under a speaker. When we asked if they could turn the music down a touch, this was done immediately.
Some time later another member of staff – presumably one of the owners – came up and apologised for the music being too loud. It was a nice personal touch and indeed the friendly, attentive service was excellent all evening.
There was a choice of 14 starters, from £2.95 for vegetable samosas or onion bhajis to a reasonable £5.50 for the mixed platter for two.
I chose the Persian chicken tikka and Trish had the tiger prawn tava. Both dishes were beautifully presented, displaying a real touch of nouvelle cuisine.
They arrived on bamboo skewers laid on rectangular white plates with drizzled patterns of sauces and delicate accompaniments of salad and chopped olives.
The starters tasted as good as they looked, which was no mean feat. The large mouthwatering chunks of lean chicken were coated in a fragrant mix of spices which really hit the tastebuds. Trish’s tiger prawns in a richly flavoured pesto and yoghurt sauce were also delicious.
The curries are grades from * to ****, according to spiciness. We took a unanimous decision to avoid the **** bishnathi jalfrezi as we had not brought the fire extinguisher recommended in the menu.
In addition to the usual curry favourites, this eatery has a selection of seven speciality dishes priced between £6.95 and £9.45 and we ordered from this list. My Moroccan-inspired chicken dhabba tajeen was slow cooked with caramelised onions and tomatoes and had a real depth of flavour.
Trish’s Indian telapia behari incorporated succulent pieces of white fish sealed in a light tandoori massala and was served on a bed of spinach and shallots. Wonderful.
VERDICT: A notch above your average Indian restaurant and recommended.
Moorbottom, Honley HD9 6DW
Tel 01484 667000
Opening hours: Open seven days. Sunday to Thursday 5pm to 11pm, Friday and Saturday 5pm to 11.30pm
Disabled: Full access
The bill: £38.60 for two, including
Would you go back? Definitely and next time we’ll go for a drink at the Foresters Arms first.