Years ago I was a regular at Al Nawab, a long-established family-run Indian restaurant in Mirfield.
While I was attracted by the bring-your-own alcohol policy, I was turned off by the cramped interior and tables which were shoe-horned together.
All too often we seemed to end up with a table that was stuck out on a limb so that waiters or other diners repeatedly brushed – or sometimes bashed – into the back of my chair.
The tables were so close you had to have an intimate conversation with the table next to you, whether you wanted to or not.
So the food was always great and excellent value, the beer or wine was supermarket prices and the staff were friendly and efficient.
Unfortunately, the overall dining experience left me cold and, the odd takeaway apart, we simply stopped going.
Fast forward to 2014 and Al Nawab announced it had bought a former solicitor’s office a few hundred yards away in Station Road and would be “opening soon.”
The Akhtar family – dad Mohammed opened the original restaurant in Huddersfield Road in 2002 – were planning to revamp the place from top to bottom and they hoped to be open by the end of 2015.
Much of the work was undertaken by Mr Akhtar himself and the premises were in a worse state than he hoped.
He wasn’t about to scrimp on the renovations or do half a job for his customers so it was January 25, 2018 when the new premises finally opened.
And what a difference! Gone was the cramped and dingy restaurant to be replaced with modern, light and airy.
It’s been a long time coming but was certainly worth the wait.
The new restaurant is super smart, cool even, and the atmosphere is relaxed and chilled.
I’m happy to say it’s a very different dining experience – and thank goodness for that!
Some people don’t like change, of course. And with the new restaurant came increased prices, only modest mind – and the first in five years.
But that didn’t stop a debate on the Facebook group Mirfield Matters, where the minutiae of local life is chewed over and spat out on an hourly basis.
Yes, the prices have gone up but only to keep pace and the new prices are still below the average for a decent curry.
Calm down, everybody. And, don’t forget, you can still bring your own alcohol so that keeps down the cost. There’s no plan to change that. Big tick from me.
My partner Sian and I booked on a Thursday night and it’s a good job we did because the place quickly filled up.
Imran, son of Mohammed and now manager of the new restaurant, was smiling and well he might. Nice place he’s got there and it’s full of happy customers.
Imran’s front of house and brother Amer is in the kitchen. Compliments to the chef too as these lads take the new business forward.
Oh, the food? Nothing’s changed there, still great. And Imran will guide you through the menu and gently offer his advice if you go astray.
I went for the Daal Soup (£2.90) – lentils cooked with herbs and spices – to start and the spice was warming on a cold night.
Sian went for the Spinach Chicken Tikka (£4) with the spinach giving the yoghurt-based sauce some extra substance.
I’m usually a medium-hot kinda guy (if I say so myself) but for mains I turned down the heat and opted for the King Prawn Dansak (£9).
Cooked with pineapples and lemon juice it has a sweet and slightly spicy taste and I always like to savour the flavours rather than go for the burn of the chillis.
Sian had the Fish Sizzler (£9) and it sizzled all right. Haddock cooked with lemons, tandoori masala and chilli beans. The fish was lovely and had a spicy kick.
We cleaned our plates with his and hers naan breads, mine a mango one (one of the few Indians I know that smear mango chutney on a naan) and Sian a garlic one.
My only small criticism was that I found the naan a bit doughy.
We washed it all down with a bottle of Tesco’s finest plonk.
Conclusion: You’ve got the best of the old Al Nawab in a shiny new setting. What more could you want?
17 Station Road, Mirfield, WF14 8LN
Phone: 01924 497700
Opening hours: Sun-Thurs 4pm-11.30pm, Fri/Sat 4pm-12.30pm. Closed Mondays
Disabled access: Ring ahead
The bill: £31.00
Would you go back? Daft question!