J D Wetherspoon

The Rhinoceros, 35-37 Bridgegate, Rotherham, Tel: 01709 361422

Visited: Thursday, 1 March 2001, 7.00pm

Update by Phil Coates

So, Uncle Phal finally gets to eat a phal! The Rotherham premises of this excellent chain are the least opulent I have seen, while the staff are among the most helpful. Exactly the same fare is on offer as that described in the review for the Barnsley branch (below), but not limited to Thursday nights. I believe it is available every night.

Two of us shared a chicken phal and a chicken balti. Both score 6/10. Does the phal qualify as genuine? Probably not. I would, however, rate it a full-strength vindaloo. There is nothing to fear; just be aware that the hotness seems to accumulate with each mouthful. Half a portion is about right.

The Courthouse Station, 12 Regent Street, Barnsley, Tel: 01226 779056

Visited: Thursday, 9th November, 2000, 8:30pm

3 stars

Review by Jeff Davis

Category Marks
Food 6/10
Service 5/10
Value 10/10

We thought we'd try Wetherspoon's, a public house occupying the Old Court House in Barnsley town centre. What possessed us to review a pub?, well it actually sounds even worse as J D 's is a chain of public houses. The reality is somewhat different. All of J D 's buildings are selected for their unusualness and have an interesting former history.

Is that a good enough reason to visit for a curry? Well let me indulge further. All the pubs follow a non-music policy, this means that you can actually hold a conversation with your friends/colleagues. Some even have a non-smoking area, all serve real ale generally selling at 1.49. In Barnsley it is even cheaper, just 1.29.

J D Wetherspoon's offers a varied menu; obviously this is an establishment that does not specialise in Indian food and the choice of dishes available is limited to:

chicken korma - lamb rogan josh - vegetable tandoori masala - goan rawn - chicken dhansak - chicken balti - thai green chicken - beef madras and chicken phal.

We arrived at 20:15, the curry club was obviously very popular with many patrons sampling the fare on offer. Even though it was relatively early, we found we were left with a choice of either vegetable tandoori masala or the chicken phal. The popularity of the evening would indicate that you have to get there early to avoid dissapointment. The main courses are bought in frozen from a company called The Authentic Food Company (Indian).

We both ended up having the vegetable tandoori masala. On this occasion Uncle Phal decided to play it safe; a phal can only be entrusted to an establishment which you believe would provide a genuine version of the dish.

Our dishes were accompanied by 2 popadoms, mango chutney dip, 2 nan breads, boiled rice and a pint of Theakstons best bitter...all for just 3.99.

The vegetable tandoori masala was very good. It contained numerous vegetables which included aubergines, courgettes, carrots, peas and potato; all in a rich sauce.

The nan breads and popadoms were obviously not made on the premises, just the bought in variety you can purchase from any supermarket, as was the boiled rice. However they were all perfectly acceptable. The main dish portions were the same as you would get in any Indian restaurant. The food was all presented together and made a fairly substantial and enjoyable meal.

The service was as you would expect in any pub. You place your order, take a seat and the food arrrives a short while later. We had to wait approximately 25 minutes for the meal, an acceptable time period. The toilet facilities were excellent.

The dessert menu only contained English dishes.

The J D Wetherspoon experience is definetely worth a try, the food was of good quality, the beer was excellent, outstanding value for money. I can see this being re-visited soon.

Dish Price (£) Marks Consumer
vegetable tandoori masala 3.99* 7/10 Phil C/Jeff D

* price includes a pint of beer or lager and all extras (see above).