Kofta smofta

1. Reviews (London)

Clifton, London, E14

It’s a famous name but sadly this attractive looking restaurant just outside Canary Wharf rarely seems to have more than a handful of people in it. The times when it does have customers it’s rammed to the brim for parties and this appears to be how it thrives.

The original Clifton Café opened in the 1950s in Brick Lane and became famous for continuing to serve authentic curries as others around it pandered to the tastes of Western palates. Its current incarnation opened nearby in 2005. The E14 branch is large, and together with its sister shop next door, which sells everything a curry lover wants, creates a significant Clifton footprint in the Westferry Road.

The two restaurants continue to fly the flag of authenticity so it seemed the decent thing to order one of the regional specialities of Bangladesh. The Tetul Tanga Bujon (£7.95) promised koftas in a sweet and sour sauce and I went for the chicken version on the waiter’s recommendation. It was the most sweet sour sauce I have ever had in an Indian restaurant that’s for sure and pretty tasty. But where were the koftas? The chicken was nice enough but they were chunks not meatballs.

“That’s the way we do that dish,” I was told with a smile. “But it’s cooked in kofta sauce.” Kofta sauce? Authentic I hope.

The starters were served on round thali trays, which was a nice touch. The Cauliflower Pakora (£2.25) came with salad and sauces, as did the Lamb Chops (£4.95). Oh, the Lamb Chops. Huge, beautifully spiced and tender lamb, with edges slightly charred in the tandoor.

Clifton, 32 Westferry Road, London E14 8LW. Tel: 020 7987 0600 or 020 7001 2999. E-mail: info@cliftonrestaurant.co.uk

Scores on the tandoors

Food 6.5

Decor 8

Service and friendliness 8.5

Atmosphere 6 (Monday evening)

Value 7

A place to watch

2. Reviews (Other UK)

Am Kitchen and Bar, Leeds

There can few better surroundings in which to eat a curry than Am Kitchen and Bar. There’s the pay-through-the-teeth grandeur of legendary place like London’s Veeraswamy, of course, or the feet-in-the-sand style of Karma Café in Goa, but right here in the centre of Leeds there is a gem of a curry house.

Based in a former watchmakers, the property is a Listed Building boasting two levels with a large open well in the middle where you can look down on diners below, beautiful chandeliers, and a mind-boggling amount of intricate glass work panels and display cabinets. The necessary contemporary elements needed to operate a restaurant are incorporated into the space well, in particular the way the light grey high-backed chairs offset the dark wood of the tables. But best of all for the Greenwich Curry Club is a superb Greenwich Mean Time clock that takes centre stage over the bar that faces the entrance.

Greenwich Mean Time Clock. It's one of those that's only correct twice a day…

It’d be easy to get distracted from the main reason for being here, yet the Chicken Balti (with extra garlic as requested) delivered that beautiful fresh taste that baltis should and is well priced at £8.55, while there was also no problem adapting a hearty Keema Madras (£8.55) by adding some fresh green chillies. If you’re a starter fan you’ll struggle to find tastier Lamb Chops (£4.25); for a large table of people who can think of a better way to start the communal evening than with a large of pile of these?

By the end of the first bite I’d forgiven the staff for (what appeared to be) a deliberate policy of keeping people waiting at the entrance to ensure the front of house table are always occupied rather than filling up the empty places upstairs. In fact I was rather pleased because Briggate on a Saturday night is ideal for people watching. Coats are a complete no-no even as temperatures plummet. Instead boys seem particularly keen on tops so tight it looks like they’ve just got out the gym and girls on skirts so short that Am Kitchen’s very large Rotis (£1.10 each) would offer more cover.

Am Kitchen and Bar, 24-26 Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6EP. Tel: 0113 242 2626. E-mail: info@amkitchenandbar.com 

Am Kitchen and Bar snapshot

Food ① ② ③ ④

Decor ① ② ③ ④ ⑤

Value ① ② ③ ④

Atmosphere (Saturday night) ① ② ③ ④

Service and friendliness ① ② ③

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