You have to hand it to the Sheesh Mahal.
It was one of the worst-hit businesses of the floods on Boxing Day in 2015 which battered Kirkstall Road.
But owner Azram Chaudhry and his staff toiled for more than a year and re-opened the Indian restaurant this March.
The big question is, does it still have the magic touch that made it so popular before? I’m happy to report that it does.
Upon arrival at tea time on a Monday, there are only two other tables occupied, but the welcome is warm and me and my friend are asked to sit wherever we’d like.
A complimentary poppadom each, which we had intended to have as a starter anyway, were brought straight to us once we’d made ourselves comfortable – a nice touch, though I’ve no idea if it’s the standard . This came with a tasty raita, and we opted to pay for the full pickle tray too (£2.20).
The re-opening revealed a new makeover inside and out- splashes of colour here and there, with mostly nice but unimposing dark shades. The simple layout and bar area remain the same.
To start, we shared the onion bhaji (£2.50) and a Dal Puri (£2.90) - lentils cooked with tomatoes, mild spices and placed on a chapati and served with salad.
As we waited, the atmosphere was a little uncomfortable only because of how quiet the restaurant was.
Thankfully, the waiters resisted the urge to keep coming over in the way some do when a restaurant isn’t at its busiest – but were very attentive at the right moments.
By the time the starters arrived the place was half-filled – not bad for the Monday before payday – and gentle chatter eased the slightly awkward quiet of before.
The two onion bhajis were lovely - shaped like slim round fritters and not overly greasy - and the sweet Dal Puri is something I’d definitely try again.
For the main, I had a Chicken Tikka Pathia (£8.50) - a sweet and sour dish cooked with chutney, garlic, tomatoes, capsicum, lemon, fresh dhaniya (coriander) and hint of cream.
My friend goes for Gobi Allo (£6.90), a vegetarian dish of cauliflower and potatoes.
Both are described as medium heat, but we’re told this can be increased or cooled down on request. We take them as they come.
We also share a plain naan (£1.80) and pilau rice (£2.50).
Portions are good - the naan is a small country – and taste incredible. The pathia is more sweet than sour, and on reflection I could have taken it a bit hotter, but looks amazing the gentle sweetness of the flavour is fantastic. This is one of the best curries I’ve had in Leeds for a while. My friend is also impressed, and we agree that the fluffy naan is a highlight.
I’d heard great things about the Sheesh Mahal, and it did not disappoint.
And at £33.90 in total (including two pints of Diet Coke), you can’t argue with the value one bit.
Address: 346-348 Kirkstall Road, Leeds