Ratings (out of five)
MARTIN DAWES discovers that curry goes upmarket at Ayesha's
You get the hint that things are going to be rather better than your usual curry-in-a-hurry before you even step inside Ayesha’s restaurant on Ecclesall Road Sheffield.
The exterior is an imperial Rajah blue and the menu, in its little box in the window, looks a great deal shorter than your usual Indian.
Inside, the walls are not flock but Korma coloured, blending in with the yellow and white tablecloths.
The menu promises “avant garde cusine”. Well, as far as the dishes go, it breaks little new ground but it is upmarket.
The pickle tray appeared with our pre-dinner poppadoms. The onion and mint chutney was made with red onions. That’s upmarket, we said.
Prices might be slightly higher than some places but there is also a much higher meat-to-sauce ratio
The menu has a list of specials, a quid or two more than the others, which regulars thoroughly recommend.
But we stuck to the rest of the menu and were well served. Order a handful of dishes in many restaurants and you soon taste the basic sauce underpinning each one.
We didn’t find that at Ayesha’s. Prices might be slightly higher than some places but there is also a much higher meat-to-sauce ratio.
Aloo chop, potato patties (£2.40), is a regular feature of most menus. Here the flavouring (fenugreek or methi, I think) was a little muted but the patties were given a lift by being egg-washed before frying.
And the prawn puree (£2.80), the filling nestling inside a deep-fried pastry case, excelled with a rather fine creamy sauce with slightly sweet coconut over-tones.
Lamb Passanda (£7.90) is one of my favourites. With ground nuts said the menu. Presumably they didn’t mean peanuts but ground almonds and the sauce, to which they add red wine, was full-bodied, slightly nutty and smooth.
Chicken methi (£5.40) scored high on fenugreek but what we really liked was one one of the dishes customers often order without thinking too much about, tarka dahl (£3.40).
Chef Anamul Hoque, who had already shown he puts a lot of thought into his dishes, gives this a lift by paying careful attention to the fried seasonings that go on top. Cook them on too much and they become bitter. This had just the correct smokiness.
The onion and mint chutney for our popadums was made with red onion. 'That's upmarket' we said
With a couple of chapattis (£1.80) and a portion of gently fragrant pilao rice (£1.80) we had an enjoyable meal. We passed on the sweets because they looked like straight-from-the-freezer jobs.
Despite its upmarket overtones, the bill wasn’t as much as we thought. With a couple of lagers, we paid £31.50.
Ayesha’s now has a companion restaurant, Ayesha’s II, in Gawber Road, Barnsley.