If you had guests coming to stay with you and they informed you beforehand they really wanted to go out for a curry, where would you take them?
You don’t want to go somewhere underwhelming, somewhere pokey and dim and drab, as so many ‘curry houses’ are.
If it’s understatement you want, you might as well stay in, drink and take your chances with a take-away.
Or, you could take them to East, Pudsey, which is none of the above. East is big. In fact, big doesn’t really do it justice. It’s huge. From the outside, if you were driving past and there were no signs up, you’d be mistaken for thinking it was something else... like a carpet warehouse (funny that, because it once was one). And you know how big some of those carpet rolls are. So, you get the idea that East is well proportioned. But as any self-respecting foodie will tell you, size isn’t everything.
Gladly, East delivers in this area too, although there is still room for improvement. But, wait a minute, I’m jumping the gun a little there, so let’s just rewind.
The thing about East is it’s slightly overwhelming (in a good way), in that the moment you begin to walk up the steps toward the front door, you’re taken in by this mesmerising experience: there’s chrome, polished glass, palm-tree thingies and general bling.
Seriously, it has more swagger than a Bollywood movie. The service is slick, the staff look like they’ve just stepped out of make-up, confidence oozes from the very woodwork and there’s not a speck of dust in site, no corner where someone’s attention has not recently been focussed.
The interior, as previously stated, is cavernous, with multi-level seating, a terrace bar, a grand piano in one corner, a lounge bar and a sense of self that just beggars belief. All around are the bar/restaurant equivalent of diamantes: like bottles of expensive plonk in glass cases, Courvoisier and other indulgences and part of me thinks at times they go a bit far with this but to be perfectly honest, I’d rather it be that than disenchanting dreariness.
We were greeted at the door civilly and guided promptly enough to our table and menus delivered and drinks orders taken, all of which seemed pretty effortless. I went for a pint of Amstel (£3.75), while my dining buddy opted for a shandy (£3).
The menu here is extensive, with classic Indian dishes and a decent range of British favourites for fish out of water.
Pickles (£2.95) and poppadoms (£3.75 for five) came first. To start, we ordered lamb chops (£4.50) and a fish puri (£4.50), both on the money.
Did I mention I had the kidlets with me? No, well, because the missus works nights, it’s a case of: where I go, they go, which is no bad thing because they’re still very small and so don’t eat very much. That meant I also ordered two kids’ meals (£4.95 each, one fish n’ chips, the other scampi). The fish n’ chips, which was goujons with chips, fulfilled the brief but the scampi left something to be desired - no actual prawns in sight, the batter a little wet, plus it could have been hotter.
Moving back to our mains, I went for karahi daal gosht (£7.95), while my dining mate had ralli milli balti (£10.95), a wonderful dish which came with lamb, chicken and prawns and had layers of flavour and rich, fruity tones with a nice kick in the background to remind you this was a curry.
Still reeling from the price of the gosht and the fact that while it was nice, it didn’t have the subtlety of the other, plus it was a fiver more. To go with these dishes - which were huge by the way - we ordered one of those ridiculously large garlic naan breads (£4.95) which came on a stand which looked like a cup tree and was big enough to act as a table divider.
There was also pilau rice (£1.95) and some fries (£2.50), plus some other drinks for the children, all of which brought the final bill to just over £72 (this included a 10 per cent service charge, which was added on automatically).
Sadly, we didn’t make it to desserts, because by the time we got there, we were well and truly stuffed, which is not a bad thing in itself - self-control being the name of the game here, as portion sizes are, like everything else at East, absolutely massive. However, puddings sound equally excessive, with names like millionaire’s cheesecake (£4.50), mile high chocolate cake (£4.50) and so on.
Just as we were finishing up the mains (or trying to), the pianist waltzed in and began tinkling on the old ivories, which was a tad kitsch but I’ve not seen this anywhere else and I’m not going to say it wasn’t nice. In conclusion, East Pudsey remains the undisputed king of curry, it’s suave, sophisticated, seducing and if those friends or relatives who came to see you went there, they would almost certainly leave impressed (and full) and you’d at least have something to talk about on the way home.
Address: 7 Richardshaw Lane, Leeds, LS28 6BN
Tel: 0113 257 9991 or 0113 2559191
Opening hours: Sunday-Thursday 11am–12am, Friday &