The phrase ‘fine dining’ oozes images of gleaming cutlery, sparkling champagne and morsels of carefully arranged expensive ingredients delivered by tuxedo-clad waiters.
Over the years Leeds has had its fair share of esteemed eateries from La Grillade and Anthony’s to Sous le Nez and Crafthouse, but none of those have boasted an adjoining takeaway.
Chef’s Fine Dining, in Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, does just that. A newly refurbished unit with ‘fine dining’ proudly slapped on the front of a space once occupied by the celebrated Sheesh Mahal.
The Bangladeshi and Indian restaurant, situated across the road from a Wetherspoons pub and Lidl supermarket, is not ideally located for extravagance and finesse on the face of it.
The left-hand unit is a straight forward takeaway counter, while the ‘fine dining’ space next door is an extremely clean-cut restaurant with gleaming glasses, starched tablecloths and suited and booted waiters.
Its dual personality seems somewhat lost on customers though, with its few diners on our visit dressed casually and left feeling mildly underdressed.
We took our seats in the vast, well-finished restaurant space complete with glowing wall art and pristinely set tables and were promptly handed the menus.
A wide array of fish, chicken, lamb, beef, vegetable and biryani curried dishes are available including more than a dozen signature curries all priced from around £7.50 upwards. There are also tandoori sizzler dishes to choose from as well as a raft of sides.
We ordered a couple of the chef’s special curry dishes with a portion of pilau rice and a plain naan to share.
My Jaflon-e-chicken dish was comprised of small pieces of tikka chicken cooked with shallots and green peppers, while my dining partner chose a medium hot Nawab Bangla curry, which was a tikka chicken and mince meat dish with green chillies, garlic, ginger, onion and green peppers.
Our orders promptly arrived by Chef’s well-dressed waiter and the portions were of a reasonable size.
Mine was a simple and enjoyable curry with a hint of spice filled with small chunks of slightly dry chicken, in truth it wasn’t particularly memorable, while my partner’s hotter dish had more bite though the mince meat didn’t particularly merit its addition.
With the help of our side orders, we came away relatively full and were given the customary warmed hand towels after we had finished, nevertheless it was hardly a fine dining experience.
Our bill came to £26.70 with the addition of bottles of Cobra beer and Strongbow cider, which was decent value considering our portions.
Despite its best efforts, flashy interior and pleated suits, Chef’s is first and foremost a takeaway.
You can’t help but feel that this place might work better if it targeted a more casual crowd and lowered those expectations.