USUALLY trying to do a food review on a Tuesday is a dead loss as lots of restaurants are closed or the ones that are open are pretty quiet and so you don’t enjoy the atmosphere.
Not so Butler’s Balti House, which was packed out when we arrived. No wonder they have moved after 14 years from Brook Hill down the hill to Broad Lane, on the opposite side to Fagan’s pub.
Owner Sajid Quader said that people used to walk away from the old place because it looked too busy so he decided to move to bigger premises.
Mind you, from the hassles he said he had with the city council over various planning issues, he feels it has been a bit of a tough move.
Although the place was thronging with customers when we arrived, we were seated pretty quickly by a very efficient waitress who whisked us off to a table for two.
Her male counterparts are just as efficient but also like to have a bit of a laugh with the customers, adding to the atmosphere of the place.
The original Butler’s Balti House took over from the iconic Butler’s Dining Rooms, a cafe famed for its huge plate meat pies and also for playing host to Picasso when he visited the city in 1950 briefly to speak at a peace conference.
While there, Picasso drew one of his famous white doves on a paper napkin and there is a reproduction of a dove drawing in the reception area of the restaurant.
The interior is very chic in dusky lilac, silver, grey and black and the designers have had fun referring to flock wallpaper, using designs on the blinds and some of the seating.
A glass wall separates off a private dining room which has a spectacular gold three-dimensional design on the entire back wall.
Eventually, Sajid is going to develop another dining room on the first floor which could be hired out for parties and events.
Other than that, everything else will seem very familiar to the restaurant’s regular following, from the staff to the menu.
It’s a pretty long menu and specialises, needless to say, in baltis, dishes served in their own two-handled cast iron cooking pots that look very similar to woks.
This is a serving method that became very popular in cities like Birmingham a few years ago, where it was a feature of low-cost cafes serving authentic-tasting food.
Butler’s also serve up a range of tandoori dishes and what they call golden oldies, the favourites like biryanis, dhansaks and dupiazas.
Vegetarians are spoilt for choice with a sizeable section on the menu and there are a few fish dishes as well.
My friend Linda and I sat down to peruse it with poppadoms and no less than seven pickles and dips.
The starters are split between meat, seafood and vegetarian options and prices range from £2.95 to £4.05. Main dishes range in price from £5.95 to £9.95.
I went for kaleeji, which is chicken livers (£3.25), and Linda chose a mixed veg starter (£3.25).
The kaleeji was a generous selection of fried livers that had been coated with a yoghurt-based paste. The texture was very good and the livers were well cooked and the spices were pretty mild. It was quite a rich dish and fairly enjoyable.
Linda’s mixed starter consisted of a flat, disc-shaped onion bhaji and mushroom and potato pakoras, where the whole mushrooms or potato chunks were covered in a thin batter and deep fried.
The onion bhaji was acceptable but the other two were disappointingly bland and really needed the pickle tray accompaniments to pep them up a bit.
Our main courses arrived in their little pans nestling on wooden stands and the portions are generous.
Linda chose balti lamb baruchi (£6.95) and I ordered balti lemon chicken (£6.95), which we had with three chappatis (95p each) and some pilau rice (£2.10).
My pieces of tender chicken tikka in a tangy, lemony, yoghurty sauce went down quite a treat and, if you want even more lemoniness, the dish is served topped with a couple of slices.
I would have liked the dish to be a bit spicier but to be fair the menu says that you can ask for it how you like, even up to tindaloo or phall level, so I’d definitely ask for a bit more heat next time.
Linda wasn’t quite so keen on her baruchi, which is meat cooked with potatoes, onions, tomatoes and peppers, garnished with crispy fried onions.
She found the crispy onions made the dish too rich.
I tried some and quite liked it, especially the meat which was well cooked, but it was too rich for me as well.
We both liked the chappatis, which you should really use to scoop up your meal, although I have to use a fork as well.
The pilau rice was pleasant but we didn’t really need it and the Kashmiri families I know would never eat it with a meal.
With two coffees and a couple of Cobra lagers, our bill came to £39.65.
lVerdict: an old favourite among Sheffielders that is settling in nicely to its new home. Needs a bit more spice, though.
lOpening times: Monday to Thursday 5.30pm to 12.30am, Friday 5.30pm to 1.30am, Satirday 5.30pm to 2am, Sunday 5.30pm to midnight.
lButler’s Balti House, 44-46 Broad Lane, Sheffield S1 4BT. 0114 276 8141. www.butlersbalti.com