Not the most auspicious setting for a restaurant, the Kashmiri Aroma is hidden away on an industrial estate on the outskirts of Wakefield, near Junction 41 of the M1 and with a budget hotel, family-dining pub, a fast food takeaway and a health club as near neighbours.
But that hasn’t stopped it being one of the most talked about Indian restaurants in the city - and one of the busiest.
You can go at any time of the evening from the moment it opens at 5.30pm and find the car park full and the restaurant buzzing.
From the outside it’s not particularly impressive, a great barn of a place - typical of the sort of buildings to be seen on industrial estates all over the country.
Once inside it’s all glitz and glamour, a large bar area with plush velvet seats and stools to perch upon where diners can choose from the menu before being shown to their table or wait in style for their takeaway to be delivered. The open plan restaurant itself is thoughtfully laid out, although some of the tables are a little too close for comfort which adds to the noise level at busy times.
Table cloths are starched and dazzlingly white, with linen napkins, cutlery and shiny glasses of the highest quality. The whole restaurant is elegant and smartly turned out with complementary colours of mauve and grey which work beautifully together.
Large parties can have their own little closed off section at the end of the restaurant which gives a sense of exclusivity and is very popular as a venue for Christmas parties or indeed any large gathering.
I’ve been to this restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights which were both manic, with large celebratory parties mingling with families and couples.
The front of house manager however is a master at sorting out bookings and allocating tables, always with a smile and a handshake. He also has an amazing capacity for remembering frequent visitors - and there must be hundreds of them - either that or he’s a jolly good actor.
We chose to visit on what we thought would be a particularly quiet time - Sunday at 6.30pm. True, it was less busy than usual, but a large number of the tables were occupied and by the time we left at 8pm the place was almost full.
I’ve eaten at the Kashmiri Aroma regularly and have been most impressed by the consistent high quality of the food. This time, was no exception, with just one gripe - I’ll come to that later.
Drinks orders were taken within moments of us taking our seats. A pint of Kingfisher for my companion, a mango lassi and a jug of water for me. There’s a decent wine list but I never fancy wine with spicy food - and anyway I was driving.
The beer arrived promptly my lassi was a few minutes behind; our waiter explained it was being freshly made.
Poppadums and pickle tray were offered and accepted. The mango chutney was nice and thick, the mint raita a little on the thin side and the lime pickle exquisitely sour and eye-wateringly hot. The pickles were served with warm crispy poppadums that were not at all greasy.
I’m a real fan of spicy seafood and so we opted for the special seafood starter to feed two - the menu lists it as consisting of fish masala, dhuan machli, lahorie machli, king prawn tikka and makrani jhinga - most of which I couldn’t recognise.
That didn’t really matter though, each piece of fish was beautifully cooked and each had its own distinct flavour depending on the spices used. The dish was served on a sizzling platter and garnished with crisp fried onions and peppers and a crunchy salad. Most enjoyable.
Main courses were a lamb hydrabadi (£8.95) for my companion and Lamb Sindi (£8.95) for me - usually one of us opts for a chicken dish but neither would give way this time, so two lamb dishes it was.
Hydrabadi dishes are rich, cooked with fresh cream and yoghurt with the flavours balanced by tomatoes and spices.
This one was quite delicious, large chunks of tender lamb with the spices blended beautifully so that individual flavours came through and could be easily distinguished,
Sindhi Lamb is a classic mildly spicy Indian dish which can be cooked in a variety of ways, in this case the flavours were achieved by a generous use of green chilli, pistachios, fresh lime and garam masala. Again the meat was tender and in both cases portions were generous, the food came piping hot and the naan bread and chapatis we ordered as accompaniments were fluffy and warm.
I don’t often order a dessert when I go for a Indian meal but decided to make an exception this time - the lure of the homemade kulfi (traditional Indian ice cream) proved irresistible.
Unfortunately this was the one low point of the meal. Homemade it may have been but it had obviously been languishing at the bottom of a freezer for some time as it was rock solid and infused with ice crystals. I didn’t bother to eat it.
However, this small setback didn’t spoil what was a splendid meal, served in pleasant surroundings and by courteous and attentive staff.
The cost of the meal including two rounds of drinks came to a reasonable £41.60.
There are three other Kashmiri Aromas in Yorkshire; Halifax, Ilkley and Sheffield and, as well as a massive selection of a-la-carte dishes from the menu each serves a buffet on Sunday afternoon and Sunday and Monday evenings for an all you can eat price of £13.95.
Address: 2 Herriot Way, Paragon Business Village, A650, Wakefield W1 2UJ.
Tel: 01924 373223
Opening times: every day for dinner; from 5.30pm (5pm Fri day& Saturday); Sunday from 1pm until close.