When I moved to Leeds from Kentucky, Shabab was where I had my first proper English curry, and I was immediately infatuated with the place. The waiters were charming, the decor somehow managed to be kitschy and elegant at the same time, and the food was amazing. I drove my husband crazy with wanting to eat there all the time. So it’s with great sadness that, after a nearly four-year love affair, it’s time to call it quits (with Shabab, not with my husband).
The last two times I’ve been, it’s been solidly mediocre, and my most recent visit was the last straw. While the sauce on my favourite dish (Dunwandhar – smoked lamb in a rich tomato-based sauce) was as delicious as always, the lamb was tough and chewy. The onion naan I shared with my table-mates was small (smaller than the dinner plate it was served on!) and doughy in the middle, and my mushroom pilau was obviously just regular pilau with sliced mushrooms thrown in as an afterthought, because they weren’t even cooked.
It wasn’t a complete failure. The service was fine, if not particularly enthusiastic, and my friends both enjoyed their curries (they had mild chicken dishes, one with pineapples and one with cashews). Unfortunately, ‘fine’ isn’t what I’m looking for when I go out for a meal with friends. I want delicious food, a great atmosphere, and memorable experience. It doesn’t look like I’m going to find that at Shabab any more. I need a new favourite curry spot – any suggestions?
Photo from toptable.com