Akbar’s is one of those places many people in Leeds seem to love, but which I’d never had the chance to visit.
First impressions are great, as a smiling member of staff greets us immediately at the door and, despite the restaurant apparently doing a roaring trade on a cold Wednesday night, we’re seated straight away without a reservation.
The two-seater table is a good one, near the window and fairly private, the only problem being the view of the restaurant obscured slightly by the door which is set back a little.
The décor is of the sort you see in many Indian restaurants, only a little smarter. Plenty of seats are packed in, but not so close that you’re listening to people chat too much.
The excellent service offered throughout our meal (aside from a dip in attention amid a second wave of custom later) is continued when our brilliant waiter, Ahmed, introduces himself by name.
Naturally we got a popadom each and a pickle tray (£3 for all), which was left to use for dipping during the rest of our meal (a very welcome, customer-first approach). For my starter, I had fish pakoras – four large cutlets covered in a spicy batter and deep friend, with salad (£4.45). The portion is enough for a main, the batter not too heavy and the white fish delicate – a good choice.
My friend starts with the mushroom and potato poori – crispy deep friend bread cooked with onions, tomatoes and garlic (£3.95). The bread was soft and fluffy, and the large amount of veg was really flavourful.
We both also agreed that contrary to many of the Indian restaurants we’ve experienced, the salad was beyond expectations – dressed well and varied.
Dishes were also brought out by the chefs, adding a personal touch.
For my main, I go for a dish so unadventurous it’s almost a bold choice – chicken tikka masala (£9.45) – as I’m intrigued by its placement on the chef’s specials list. Its deep redness is really appealing, and it tastes nice and fresh, if not spectacular.
My friend has a vegetable biryani ( £8.95), a rice-based dish which was said to be lovely, though the accompanying chickpea sauce a little bland.
For sides, we got one of the gigantic family naan breads even pairs seem to order (£4.50), and I go for a pilau rice too (£2.65). The structural integrity of this beautiful, immense naan – placed on a stand for ease of use – seemed to be suffering by the end so it’s just as well we were so full we had to take it away with us.
All this for £46.45 with two soft drinks each and I can see why this restaurant is so well-liked, so my first visit is not likely to be my last.
Address: 15 Eastgate, Leeds LS2 7LY