‘Okay,’ I thought as we turned the corner, ‘don’t mention it, and he might not notice.’
I should have known better, I suppose, but I was hoping against hope that the prospect of a curry and a bit of male bonding might prove enough of a distraction.
And we actually made it almost two-thirds of the way to the restaurant entrance before I heard an excited “Oh, look!” from my companion, followed by “There’s a lap dancing bar right next door!”
I explained, as firmly as I could, that said establishment wasn’t what we were out for, but, in fairness to my overexuberant friend, it is quite strange to see not one but two “gentleman’s clubs” less than a stone’s throw away when you go out to eat.
But Oliver is always keen to try a new Indian restaurant and, some neighbours aside, the location for the relatively new Miah’s Kitchen is quite prime, if a little tucked away, situated as it is in the city centre’s swish York Place behind low fencing in one of the old red brick buildings.
So, having persuaded my companion the meal would be the far more civilised option, we made our way inside.
After making the always slightly off-putting realisation that we were the only customers, we were greeted by a incredibly friendly young waiter, who showed us to our seats.
The interior has been done out with trendy, low, brown leather seats and with deep browns and whites throughout, and it looks suitably classy.
It’s easy to tell that the restaurant hasn’t been open that long. There are a few places that could still do with a lick of paint but, overall, it’s very easy on the eye.
A quick chat with our waiter confirmed that they had been open less than a couple of months and are very keen for word to spread – a fact which became increasingly evident as the meal progressed.
As we had a look over the menu we were rather disappointed to learn that the draught beer pumps weren’t working but we ordered some bottled lager as we made our choices.
The selection is vast – with all the familiar favourites alongside a host of dishes that neither of us had heard of.
Fortunately we were attended to almost constantly by not one but two members of staff who offered to talk us through anything and everything on the menu.
We nibbled on some poppadums for a while, wading through the dizzying array, before deciding on our choices.
To start, my companion opted for fish bhaji, cutlets of fish marinated then cooked in olive oil and garlic.
Brought to the table still sizzling in a dish, the waiter served a huge portion straight onto the plate.
My notoriously hard-to-please companion was absolutely dazzled, pronouncing the fish to be cooked perfectly, soft and tender with just the right amount of spice and plenty of flavour from peppers and onions.
For my own starter, I ordered chicken pakora and was brought four surprisingly large pieces of juicy, well-cooked chicken, coated in a lightly spiced egg coating. Although the portion was a bit on the big side, I couldn’t help but eat it all.
And as we enjoyed our starters we were asked at least three times if everything was okay by both of our waiters.
Main courses had really taken some choosing but Oliver always feels compelled to try something a bit different in an Indian restaurant.
To that end, I chose a dish called devdas, a mixture of chicken and lamb pieces cooked in a thick sauce containing chilli, ginger and spring onion.
I was a little bit concerned about having a combination of red and white meat in the same dish but it actually worked very well, thanks in no small part to the fact that both chicken and lamb were cooked superbly, with the chicken moist and tender and the lamb having a fabulous char-grilled flavour.
The ginger gave the dish something extra but the dominant flavour was chilli, which had been used to give it a really quite powerful kick – fantastic for fans of spicy food.
My companion, after some deliberation, decided on chicken kali mirch, one of the house specialities, cooked with chilli, onions, red peppers and herbs.
Our waiter seemed slightly unsure about his selection, warning him that it was “quite hot”.
Never one to shirk a challenge, however, my companion decided to go for broke.
Then, moments later, the second waiter came over to check if he was absolutely sure.
It is, after all, “quite hot”, he said.
At this point the doubts began to set in but they were allayed with on offer by the chef to tone the dish down a little, which was agreed with the minimum loss of face.
Nevertheless, the warnings had left us expecting some bubbling, molten mass fit for smelting iron to be delivered by a waiter wearing welding goggles.
So my companion was somewhat disappointed to find that his main had been made rather too mild for his tastes. Whilst it was still well-prepared and full of flavour, it now lacked the necessary fire to make it a real winner.
Again, throughout the mains, we were asked continuously if everything was alright.
Fortunately the waiters (both of them) were friendly and likeable enough to get away with it but the service was bordering on being a little bit too attentive at times.
Once again the portions were very generous and, along with a couple of garlic naan breads and some rice, had left us with barely any room for a dessert.
But in the spirit of adventure it would have felt wrong to decline the offer to try some authentic sweets.
There were only three on offer this particular night but I decided to try gulab jamun, a single, tiny ball of milk dough served with ice cream.
Although the portion was thankfully small, it was so unbelievably sweet and doughy that it was still quite difficult to finish. That being said it was a little bit different and a great end to such a heavy-duty meal.
My companion tried a traditional kulfi ice cream which, again, came in a small portion and was sweet and pleasant if nothing spectacular.
Along with drinks, the bill came in at just over £60 – fantastic value considering the quality and quantity of what we’d eaten.
And as we waddled, both utterly replete, out of the door my companion didn’t even acknowledge any of the street’s other establishments.
Even he had had enough spice for one evening.
Miah’s Kitchen, 3 York Place, Leeds, LS1 2DR
Opening hours: Monday-Thursday 5.30-11pm; Friday and Saturday 5.30-12 Midnight; Sunday 5.30-11pm
Tel: 0113 234 4922
SERVICE .......................... ***
***** EXCELLENT **** VERY GOOD *** GOOD ** AVERAGE * POOR