Indian goes Aussie

Bollywood Lounge

34 Smyth Street, Wakefield

FANS of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo may want to look away now.

Having said that, I make no apologies for my choice.

Franky, I defy anyone to not be at least the tiniest bit curious about how a marsupial-based Indian meal might taste.

After all, it’s not something that crops up on your average Indian menu but then, Bollywood Lounge in Wakefield isn’t your average Indian.

From the outside it didn't look all that special, tucked away as it is off the main Westgate drag and with an unassuming red-brick facia.

But making our way inside, my companion and I were met with a Tardis-like interior – seemingly far bigger than looked possible from outside.

The layout is modern, spacious and really quite stunning in its way, almost having the look of a trendy and expensive nightclub rather than a restaurant.

At the moment, the whole Bollywood thing is cooler than it ever has been, certainly in the UK, and that’s obviously been factored into the design.

Even though there were fairly few diners there as we were shown to our table, perhaps owing to the rotten weather, it was easy to see the place could be absolutely buzzing when full.

And the funky Bollywood music combined with the huge flatscreen TV mounted in the corner showing music vidoes, added to the potential for a really vibrant atmosphere.

Once we were seated, we began the mammoth task of getting to grips with the menu.

Trust me, it's not easy – the selection is huge, almost too big, and it was incredibly difficult to pick out a couple of choices from the massive range of signature, fusion and traditional dishes.

There's even a section especially devoted to those on the Atkins diet.

To start with, I went for Neetu – pieces of grilled venison marinated in herbs and spices.

Beautifully presented, the portion was deceptively large but absolutely delicious.

Quite dry but very tender and with a sudden burst of spice at the end of each mouthful, I could have easily eaten a larger portion as a main meal and wanted more when I'd finished – always a mark of a great dish.

My companion went for Sheek Kebab – a pair of traditional-looking lamb kebabs which had quite a mild, understated flavour with a nice blend of meatiness and just a hint of spice.

Starters come in at around 3-5.

As I’ve said, picking a main course was tough but my eye was immediately drawn to the section containing both kangaroo and crocodile dishes.

Feeling rather pleased with myself, I suggested ordering the crocodile and asking that they make it snappy – but the subsequent withering look and despairing tut from the other side of the table were enough to convince me that wasn’t even nearly as amusing as it seemed to me.

In any case, the staff seemed almost shy and it would have been nice to have a bit more chat from them in such a potentially energetic setting.

Determined not to have my sense of adventure completely subdued, and thinking this might be my only chance, I took the plunge and went for the kangaroo.

Served in a heavy, bhuna style sauce with some strong, fiery flavours, the meat itself was the big surprise.

Instead of the heavy, beefy taste I was expecting, it was far more light with a really unusual, delicate texture.

Having said that, I could find no fault with it and managed to finish the whole thing despite the generous portion.

My companion opted for a very tempting-looking chicken Deewar – a dish which combined chillis, spring onions and ginger in a rich, thick sauce and which was deemed fantastic.

We both had garlic naans and a couple of chapatis as well as a portion of rice and all the usual Indian accompaniments are there.

Mains range from around 5 up to about 11 for specials like my kangaroo.

The accompaniments are all round about the 2 mark.

Onto desserts, and we were slightly disappointed at the lack of anything particularly unusual amid the selections.

While my companion's rich chocolate brownie cake was pretty well received, my own champagne sorbet was a bit flat and a rather poorly presented, served as it was in a wine glass, and to be honest I was tired of it long before I'd finished.

Not too much wrong there though and it's quite rare that you go to an Indian restaurant for the desserts.

And with the bill coming in at just under 60 for three courses, coffee and drinks, it was great value for money

In fact there's very little fault to be found with Bollywood Lounge at all and were it based in Leeds city centre, you'd well expect it to be packed to the rafters every night and renowned across the region.

As it is, it's well worth a trip to Wakefield.

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