It is a truth universally acknowledged that on a cold winter’s day, few things will warm the belly - and the soul - as well as a good, old fashioned curry.
And so it was that we found ourselves at the doors of Mumtaz, the West Yorkshire institution that has returned to Leeds Dock after a short break.
Even when the restaurant was operating as Chandelier, the guiding hand of Mumtaz was still present.
But now, it wears its legendary brand loud and proud.
The pleasant waterside setting is a bonus, although it wasn’t the main draw for myself, my partner and the three hungry kids we were with.
Drivers be aware, parking can be an issue if you try and find a space on the road outside on Chadwick Street. However Mumtaz will validate parking at the nearby multi-storey, so another plus point.
The restaurant itself is huge, with a spacious elongated dining room and a generous bar area serving a selection of mocktails, juices and lassis. Note: The restaurant does not serve alcohol.
The decor is ornate and dark, with high ceilings, chandeliers and chaise type sofas galore. It falls somewhere between bold, brash and boudoir. It’s perhaps a little busy for some but by no means offputting for the family crowd. I liked little touches like the Mumtaz ‘selfie station’ which families and couples were enjoying throughout the evening.
We went on a Sunday just after 7pm and the restaurant was at least half full and busy with chatter.
The staff were immediately helpful and pleasant, taking group photos with the children and making us feel at home.
The menu is bursting with a mixture of classic and regional Pakistani dishes, along with some fusion favourites and the odd interloper like steak, lasagne and burgers. Words like ‘Shahi’ (Royal) and ‘desi’ (traditional South Asian) scream out at you. These guys are definitely wearing their desi heart on their sleeves and it’s nice to see. The kids menu is a nice addition, and the chicken tikka and chips option drew a wry smile from me.
The menu also offers some slightly more unusual delicacies like Magaz (brains) and Paya (trotters) - definitely for the connoisseurs and the adventurous!
As a lover of South Asian street food, I was immediately drawn to the Pani Puri, Kachori and Channa Chaat starters.
But we decided in the end to share two starter platters so that there was something for everyone. Both were served on three-tier stands which I thought was a nice touch.
The committed carnivores went straight for the Mumtaz Mix Grill Platter (£14.45), which included seekh kebabs, lamb chops, chicken tikka, masala fish and chicken wings. The standout favourite element was the spicy, tender chops, which were well cooked and not at all overpowering. All the individual elements had been prepared nicely, and the children especially enjoyed the chicken wings. The masala fish was flaky and beautiful, with a nuanced spicing. The weakest element was probably the seekh kebab.
I devoted my attentions to the vegetarian platter (£11.95) which included paneer (cheese) tikka, kachori, aloo paratha , pakoras and aloo tikki. The spicy cheese cubes went down very well with everyone, as did the crispy, fluffy potato filled paratha quarters. I especially enjoyed this with the dipping sauce. Again the platter wasn’t universally adored. The aloo tikki (potato patties) were quite large and overly stodgy, and the pakoras were dry. However the standout was the kachori - sweet and spicy balls of flavour wonder. The unusual combination of chick pea flour, coconut, ginger, chilli and sultanas was a real taste explosion and, again, the side sauce was key to maximising the flavour. All the platter elements are available as individual starters and I would definitely choose the kachoris next time. A fabulous vegetarian option.
We decided to choose three mains between the group to share,
After some mulling, we plumped for the Peshawari Lamb Tawa (£16.95), the Karahi Chicken (£9.95) and Karahi Fish (£11.95).
The lamb split the crowd, but my partner absolutely adored it. The dish is served in a ‘tawa’ - the name for a large skillet usually used for cooking chappatis on, although this time it was just a crepe pan. The dish is meat on the bone cooked with a unique blend of herbs and spices as well as tomato, chilli and black pepper. Peshawar is a region of north west Pakistan, an area largely inhabited by people of Pathaan heritage, and the dish pays homage to their joie de vivre and culinary gusto. My companion said the dish was well cooked, and the meat was extremely tender to melt in the mouth standard, It was fresh tasting and not overly spicy, although you can ask for a little more kick if you desire it.
The karahi chicken was fairly standard although pleasant enough. The kids loved the fish, which was again not too spicy but beautifully cooked.
We mopped everything up with tandoori nans, which were suitably crispy and warming.
Portions were generous and service was exemplary,
We bypassed dessert this time, but the offer has to be mentioned. Traditional British puddings like sticky toffee and jam roly poly sit effortlessly alongside Asian favourites like Gulab Jamun and a variety of luxury ice creams and cheesecakes. There is also a dessert counter supplying fresh macaroons, baklava and other international delicacies. There’s definitely something for everyone.
This is not by any means fine Asian dining, and Mumtaz is not trying to be something it’s not in that sense.
The sheer variety of offerings might come across a little confusing to some, and as ‘trying too hard’ to others. I loved the takeaway macaroon counter, but wasn’t sure how it fit in with the wider brand identity.
But at the same time, there’s nothing wrong with offering a break from the routine and a bit of variety, it’s the spice of life after all.
Mumtaz’s welcoming feel, spacious dining, fantastic service combined with authentic, home-style food is a winning combination, especially for families.
Our bill, complete with a steady flow of soft drinks and coffees, came to just over £100, not unreasonable for a full family meal with doggy-bags to spare.
Mumtaz, Leeds Dock
Address: Mackenzie House, Chadwick Street, Leeds LS10 1PJ
Tel: 0113 242 4211
Opening times: 12pm to 11pm, 7 days a week