IT’s good to have your expectations well and truly shattered once in a while, as I can honestly say they were (in a good way) when we visited Blue Tiger.
I’d heard good things about it but I often hear good things about restaurants ants and so it went into a file in my head marked ‘Have Heard Good Things About...’ But then I heard more good things about it. And then more. So, I had a choice to make: either take it out of its old file and create an entirely new file or just go visit the place, which is where the expectations came in, because Blue Tiger is in the middle of a housing estate in Bramley. To be precise, its on a small row of retail units - you know the ones: functional, square edged 1970s red brick jobs - with a corner shop a the end. Not the kind of place you might expect to find a decent curry house.
But that’s exactly what we did find. So let me elaborate...
We turned up at about 6pm, were warmly greeted and led into the small but well appointed (well carpeted) seating area. I could go on and waffle about the usual cliched curry house trapping: neon, fairylights, expensive print wallpaper but I won’t. I mean, we all love that stuff don’t we? It’s Christmas.
Instead, let me tell you about their menu mission statement, which proudly says something about not wanting to overuse salt, ghee, butter and oil, an outright ban on artificial food colouring and a pledge that all herbs and spices are freshly ground on the premises. Bravo.
The menu itself is fairly straightforward, with a decent range of starters (lamb chops, kebabs, piri piri chicken, tiger prawn tava to name but a few). The mains offer all the usual suspects (tick) and some specialities ‘cooked by chef Imran’, one of which includes the ‘Calcutte Biryani’, his take on the classic north Indian dish, plus even a selection of British dishes for the exceptionally squeamish.
This is a ‘bring your own booze’ place but seeing as we had the children with us, we opted out of that but, as I said earlier, there’s a corner shop just two doors away, so if you felt the urge to indulge, it wouldn’t require precisely zero forethought.
First up was the all important pickles tray, plus poppadoms: mango chutney, lime pickle, mint yoghurt and chopped onions. The rest of the clan ordered boring old Diet Cokes but I decided to try something new and so I ordered a lychee lassi (£1.95), which I will never ever do again. Ever. Now, there was nothing wrong with the lassi itself, in terms of texture, temperature, presentation, even flavour... I just found out I don’t particularly care for lychees. You live and learn.
Moving on. We went for the mixed platters, one seafood, one meat (£6.55 each), both came on sizzling hotplates: the fish one was a mix of cod, tilapia and tiger prawns, with lashings of rich, spiced onions, garnished with fresh coriander
and spring onion: a delight. The fish was fresh and succulent and not a bit overdone, the prawns just hiding beneath their quilt of onions, which were okay just by themselves: salty, tangy with a nice warm spiciness running throughout. The garnish on the meat platter was a similar affair but had more of a smokey quality to it: here we found kebabs, chunks of Persian chicken (not dry, another tick) and peels of lamb tikka. Thumbs up.
Mains for me included Tilapia Behari (£8.95), which incorporates fillets of said fish into a lush onion and spinach massala coating, with hints of garlic, pimento and bay leaf to pique your interest. In short, a triumph of a dish, served as it was in the pan it was cooked in. My partner went for Nawabi Tava (£8.95), which had chicken, lamb and tiger prawns in a rich pesto of tomato and coriander, run through with minty fennel and garlic to deliver a spicy, slightly sweet flavour.
The kids had two small dishes of chicken tikka massala (£4.95), which they liked. Sides of chips, pilau rice, naan brought the final bill to £61.80.
One thing we all noticed was the lack of oil in these dishes: most curries are swimming in the stuff, to the point where you can spoon it off the top. Not here, so this is a feather in their cap and honours their menu mission statement. Another point to note: they don’t do desserts here, either. At least not yet. They’ve only been open four months (before that the place was a pizza takeaway and before that a chippy). So, on reflection, we were impressed. Blue Tiger has done a good job with what it has. The space is small/intimate, some of the doors catch on the thick pile carpet, the sink in the men’s toilet is almost unreachable (as it’s directly behind the toilet).
Service was slick, polite, effortless for the most part, barring a long wait for the lassi, a minor menu ordering mistake and a male waiter who was slightly abrupt: teething problems the lot of them. They could also tell customers whether the tilapia was farmed or wild, etc.
Summary: exceptional food from a surprising location. I’ll let you know if the takeaway stands up as well.
BLUE TIGER, BRAMLEY
Address: 16 Ganners Hill, Bramley, LS13 2NZ
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 5.30pm-11pm (including bank holidays)
Telephone: 0113 4407943