Bare with me here.
Now, I know Range Rovers look good and once you get inside they have lots of twiddly knobs and gadgets that make you feel like you’re in charge of your very own spaceship but I used to own an old Mitsubishi Pajero (or Shogun as it has been renamed) and while it may not have looked as slick on the outside, off-road I’d put that up against a Range Rover any day of the week. So, why I am banging on about four-by-fours when this is a restaurant review?
Well, consider it something of an extended analogy to describe Moghul, Horsforth, a compact and very capable Indian at the very bottom of Town Street, sandwiched between Horsforth Village Museum and The Old King’s Arms.
Established in 1987, it’s also one of the town’s oldest restaurants in the vicinity, easily outliving Cafe Marinetti, which opened more than a decade later in 1999 and sadly closed last year. So why has it flourished where others have failed? On face value, given its location and the fact it does not serve alcohol, it might appear to be at a disadvantage. Apparently not, though, because this place gets rave reviews and it’s busy (even on a Monday night when we show up unannounced). Yes, we were the first ones in but by the time we left, four more tables were full.
First impressions were mixed. The menu boasts: “We pride ourselves in probably serving the best food in town”, providing a “very high standard of service... with fully trained, skilful and efficient staff.” Fair enough, I can’t really argue with any of that. In point of fact, the food is good, the atmosphere is okay and the service impressive.
However, there was a pineapple on the floor under one of the chairs, a discarded kitchen towel over the back of another and some of the menus could have done with a wipe.
But I can forgive all of that and for this reason: Moghul feels a bit like my old Pajero. It’s comfy, calm and has a quiet confidence and for somewhere which marked its 30th year in business last year, it still feels lithe and nimble.
The other thing about Moghul that you will undoubtedly impress is its effect on your bank balance, because while it was established in 1987, it feels as though its prices are still back there.
The starter platter for two (which fed the kids as well) for £10.95 included samosas (good, slightly challenging, which is good, as a rule), chicken pokora, shami kebab and butterflied king prawns (light, delicate, delicious), all of it unctious, laced with spice and firmly in the hot-but-not-too-hot category.
Prior to that, we had six papadums and tray of pickles (£5.60), a point to note here being the lime pickle, which had been blitzed, thereby negating the possibility of finding your senses suddenly wanting to power down because your mouth has encountered a giant piece of lime.
So, bravo to Moghul for that and in future, if I buy any in at home, it will at some point have a date with my blender.
We also kept hold of the yoghurt from the pickle tray and a good job too as my chicken sag massala (£9.50) was a touch hot. The dish was good overall though and not too dissimilar in that sense from my partner’s lamb handy (£8.50). There’s good cooking here: both dishes had deep, relaxed flavours. There’s also a bona fide children’s menu with a mix of Indian and English options, which is refreshing to see , as it’s not something you find at every curry house. From this, the children ventured for lamb dansak and lamb korma (both £6.95), the flavours tamed accordingly.
Together with four diet cokes (£9.40), some chips ( £2.20), egg pilau rice (£3.15) and garlic naan (£3.15), the total bill rolled in at a welcome £74.30.
Two other points to note here: firstly, they deliver on orders over £15 with a 10 per cent discount if you collect. Indeed, even before we asked, they offered to box up our uneaten curries to take home with us. Secondly, the staff were accommodating when our children took a liking to how they prepared the serviettes, one of the waiters more than happy to spend some time showing them how to fold, bend and what-have-you to create the desired effect, all of which counts in their favour in terms of customer service.
Moghul feels like it belongs in Horsforth and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a decent meal out in a relaxed setting without the pomp and ceremony that some other establishments lay on as standard.
All of which brings me neatly back to my Range Rover/Pajero analogy, because if you want style over substance, then there are plenty of places in town and beyond where you can scratch that itch, but if you prefer, on the other hand, to enjoy a decent curry at a decent price in a home-from-home setting, then Moghul must be high on your list.
Address: 8/9 The Green Town Street, Horsforth, Leeds, LS18 5JB
Opening hours: 6pm-midnight seven days