I am not one to curry favour (oh yes he is). Despite this, I had been meaning to treat a friend of mine for some time as a gesture for some favours done over the past few months.
As I am not far behind him as a fan of Indian food, it seemed appropriate to take him for a beer or two and an Indian meal.
The city of Bradford currently holds, and has held, the coveted title of Curry Capital of Great Britain for an incredible six years in a row, much to the chagrin of London, Glasgow, Leicester, Birmingham and Manchester. As the city is only a few miles up the road from our home town of Leeds, it made sense to head in this direction to test their mettle.
With so many choices of restaurants to choose from, I relied on word of mouth recommendations from family and friends to come to a decision, as I find this tends to be the most reliable method (he typed ironically, as he wrote a restaurant review – this ironic typing really takes it out of you.)
Zouk was founded by foodie loving brothers, Tayub and Mudasser Amjad.
They took inspiration from the amazing street food markets of Lahore and took other traditional recipes from across the Indian sub-continent and combined them with modern influences.
They appropriated some dishes from Pakistan too and incorporated them into their repertoire.
The first Zouk restaurant opened in 2006 in Bradford. It was an immediate success, is still very popular today and offers 110 covers.
Right from the very start, they wanted the experience to be unlike any other and the décor and fittings in the restaurant were contemporary and upmarket. They created a sophisticated feel to the place and on entering, the open kitchen is immediately to your right, with the dining areas to the left and beyond. The overall feel is light and airy with creams and greys on the walls and dark wood flooring.
The open kitchen has a central tandoori oven with burners and grills to either side and behind. It was fascinating to watch the chefs make fresh chappatis and naan breads and then cooking them before your very eyes, as Arthur Askey used to say.
Make no mistake, this is no ordinary, run of the mill Indian restaurant. It is different.
We were greeted by the friendly, front of house manager, and shown to a window seat.
Wine or craft ales are never a good idea with spicy food, the nuances of flavour being overwhelmed by the spices, but we indulged in a heat quenching Cobra lager which was perfect for the occasion.
To start, we indulged in a King Prawn platter, which came with fresh salad, a pot of spicy sauce and four large prawns which had been marinated in tandoori sauce. Very tender and juicy.
Our mains were lamb pahinis, slow cooked lamb off the bone in a spicy curry sauce, with biryani rice and a freshly cooked garlic naan bread.
The lamb was so tender, falling apart at the mere sight of a fork.
It was generous both in portion size and flavour.
We both thoroughly enjoyed this experience.
Complimentary hot hand wipes were presented at the end of the meal.
There is an extensive cocktail menu with an Indian twist to each of them, though on this occasion, we were too replete to try them.
Service by the friendly staff was impeccable. They were eager to please and attentive.
The brigade of chefs even waved and called out an unprompted and cheery goodbye as we left. This was impressive customer service.
It seems we have made new friends.
For further details, menus etc., go to www.zoukteabar.co.uk . It can be found at BD3 8LF.
Zouk’s newest and flagship restaurant is in Chester Street in Manchester City Centre.
This has an open theatre kitchen and offers 300 covers. I have not been here, but if it is anything as good as the original in Bradford, then my Lancastrian cousins over on the ‘dark side’ of the Pennines are in for a treat.