I think Prashad may have become something of a victim of its own success. And make no mistake about it, there has been a lot of success and it is richly deserved. The inclusion of the restaurant in the Good Food Guide will have upped its profile amongst foodies – we wouldn’t be travelling an hour for dinner had we not seen it there a coupel of years or so back.. And the appearance on the Gordon Ramsay “Best Restaurant” programme will have worked wonders amongst a more general customer base. And there’s the new cookbook, as well. It’s all allowed them to move to bigger, swisher premises. And, in doing so, I think they’ve lost their charm. Of course, the old place was small, and a bit quirky but it was friendly and “in the right place” at the heart of the city’s south asian community. The new place, out in the almost rural suburbs between Bradford and Leeds, could be anywhere, serving any type of food.
However, what hasn’t changed is the food. It remains exclusively vegetarian, leaning heavily towards the food of northern India – the owners are Gujararti. There are the occasional south Indian influences – I saw an enormous and lovely looking dosa served to the next table.
I can’t recall seeing Hara Bara kebab elsewhere, which is a shame as it’s a little belter of a starter. Peas and cauliflower mashed together and formed into a sausage shape. This is then fried to a lovely dark crispness. Alongside, a bright little chutney zinging with coriander and citrus. We were sharing everything, of course, so to claim bhel puri as “my” starter wouldn’t be quite right, although I did eat the lion’s share of it. Great combination of flavours and textures from chickpeas, puffed rice, broken samosa and potato, drizzled with a sharp tamarind sauce. Lots of chilli in there as well. Really good.
They advertise that the chole is Ramsay’s favourite dish – which is almost enough to put you off ordering it. But then, it is a good plate and very typically Gujarati food. A quite dry chickpea dish, flavoured with cumin with a hint of something sharp – more tamarind perhaps, or amchoor. It went very well with the rotli and rice that we’d ordered as carbs. The other dish had no Indian name but was described simply as aubergine and potato and that was pretty much what you got. Aubergine completely cooked to very soft, the potato still with some texture; the spicing mild and well rounded.
All in all, a pretty good meal although I’m not sure it’s worth the hour’s drive to eat it.