Star of India 2

290 - 292 London Road, Sheffield, Tel: 0114 258 50505

Visited: Saturday, 18 March 2001, 8.45pm

Review by Phil Coates

Category Marks
Food 6/10
Service 7/10
Value 8/10

The Star of India 2 is decidedly not the next generation of South Yorkshire Indian Restaurants; on the contrary, it is such a text-book example of the original that they might have written the textbook, along with that other useful volume, the book of tricks.

So, typically, what do we get? The fake low-price menu on display outside (Oh, sorry, Sir, that's the take-away menu), the mighty glittering bar with its overpriced Kingfisher and Cobra (I ask you, £2.60 a pint!), the plush but faded interior, the strategic pricing policy (moderately-priced main dishes, overpriced starters and sundries, extra for the pickle tray, etc), the sit you in the window to make the place look fuller, the keep you waiting as long as possible to make the place look fuller for as long as possible, the subdued lighting making it difficult to examine the dishes, the dumbed-down sweetened sauces, the separate dessert menu from central supply consisting entirely of kulfi, the fussing waiter inducing a sense of obligation to tip ... Above all, the taking control.

You could stick a pin in a list of a hundred South Yorkshire Indian Restaurants and end up with the same look and feel as this, and get anything from sump oil to a tolerably decent meal - but few of them will ever do anything to rise above the herd.

I don't want to be too hard on this Star of India. They are offering free starters with a main meal, which made the final bill pretty reasonable, the service was unfailingly polite, and the main courses, with a bit of positive direction on our part, were in fact rather good - but the thought occurs ...

I should just explain that in this part of Sheffield a lot of all types of restaurants are competing for any type of customer. Just to reinforce this point, bearing in mind we were in at peak time on a Saturday night, albeit a bitterly cold night, the two of us and a table of six were the only ones there. This lack of customers has led to promotions and special offers. But of course the saleman's dream is to get you through the door.

... The thought occurs that it's only a "bargain" if you can make it your servant not your master. Which is fine if you are up for a slightly adversarial evening. But what if you just want to relax?

We had mixed starter - onion bhaji (fresh and crisp, but underspiced), chicken tikka (rubbery and a bit odd), and seekh kebab (rich and underspiced) - accompanied by a bit of salad and mint yoghurt sauce (over-sugared and underspiced).

Both the main dishes were ordered "apna style", which saved them from blandness but not from arriving under plate-hot. The chicken madras was very spicy hot with a pleasant citrus tang (from the corriander, I hope) and well above the usual standard for a basic curry. The chicken dupiaza was decent enough, medium hot, though perhaps not quite achieving the rich sweetness the onions can bring to this dish. The chicken seemed more good meat than otherwise - but it was hard to judge in the dim light. Much to be commended, both dishes were light on ghee. For flavour and texture the breads were a good average, but the roti insubstantial.

The mark for value reflects the free starter; it would otherwise be average.

Dish Price (£) Marks Consumer
chicken madras 3.80 7/10 Phil C/Jeff D
chicken dupiaza 4.20 7/10 Phil C/Jeff D

mixed starter - free (priced £2.60), plain nan £1.75, tandoori roti 95p.