Restaurant review: The Cat’s Pyjamas, Headingley

The Cat's Pyjamas, Headingley. Pics: Simon Hulme.
The Cat's Pyjamas, Headingley. Pics: Simon Hulme.
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WHEN you think of students in Leeds, you instantly think of Headingley.

The north Leeds suburb is home to hundreds of students, and for the more permanent residents it’s been an uphill battle trying to cap the number of tacky takeaways and rowdy bars in the area.

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But things are most definitely on the up.

It seems fast food and greasy spoons aren’t going to cut it for today’s students.

Since the arrival of popular restaurant Red’s True Barbecue, restaurants are now aiming a bit higher.

That’s particularly true of The Cat’s Pyjamas, which arrived on Otley Road last year.

The Indian street food offering and craft beer bar is proving popular and when we try to book, it proves tricky.

After trying to call several times with no answer, we eventually book online on the day, by which point the only available table is at 9.45pm.

When we arrive we are told they are running a little late, and suggest we can sit at the small bar area or pop down the road to White’s Deli – which is owned by the same people and offers a 10 per cent discount for diners at The Cat Pyjamas. We decide to stay put and after 20 minutes, we’re starving.

Eventually we are shown up the steep staircase to the last table in the middle of the room.

It is a deceptively large space upstairs, and as we gaze at the food whizzing past us, we realise why it’s popular.

The menu is put together by Michelin-starred chef Alfred Prasad and offers small plates such as tandoori prawns, lamb chops and Keralan beef fry, at around £5 each.

Then there are the main dishes, including Punjabi tandoori chicken, coconut chilli prawn curry and the usual chicken tikka massalla and lamb rogan josh, at around £8.

I go for the Amritsari fish, flavoured with ginger, ajwain and paprika and fried in spiced gram flour batter, served with spicy chips and salad for £4.75.

The fish is delicate with a spicy kick at the end of each mouthful.

I also go for the paneer taco, with scrambled paneer, in wheat tacos topped with mint and chilli chutney – a favourite in Irani cafés in India, I’m told.

Both are incredibly tasty but just a bit too spicy for my taste.

My friend is also having the same issue. Her kheema matar dish, made with spiced ground lamb, ginger, tomato, onions and peas is also spicy, and the ground meat makes for a strange texture in the sauce.

We both order a cucumber raita to cool things down.

Despite the heat, we enjoy our meals and are keen to return and try other dishes.

The Cat’s Pyjamas is basically a suburban Bundobust but with meat on the menu, and it’s great to see this little addition spicing up the suburb.

Rating: ***

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