Weekend lunch: Timid Tiger but it earns its stripes

Jaflong Indian Restaurant, Crookes, Sheffield
Jaflong Indian Restaurant, Crookes, Sheffield

Now, here’s a dish you don’t see every day in Sheffield: Bengal Tiger.

This writer, in the name of gastronomic experiment, has tried crocodile in a stir fry, ostrich in a burger and cockroach in a bout of regrettable gung-ho. But Bengal Tiger - there amid the specials at Jaflong restaurant in Crookes - is a new one on us.

Jaflong Indian Restaurant, Crookes, Sheffield. Jaflon Special Bengal Tiger and King Prawn

Jaflong Indian Restaurant, Crookes, Sheffield. Jaflon Special Bengal Tiger and King Prawn

As it turns out, it will have to stay that way.

Closer inspection reveals this dish doesn’t quite live up to its name: it’s nothing more than chicken and lamb tikka cooked with green chillies and spices. We pass, and keep perusing the plentiful options.

If Jaflong’s menu is confusing, that’s nothing compared to its maths.

The restaurant - a long, well-lit, dinning room with kitchen at the far end - celebrated its 15th anniversary with a special party on January 20. “Fine cuisine and take away since 1998,” announced the advert, bemusingly.

Figure that.

Still, who needs numerical proficiency when you make curries with tiger in them. Hang on...no, that’s not right, is it?

Still, who needs numerical proficiency and literal menus when you make food like Jaflong does? It’s lovely.

Owner Shahab Uddin expanded the place from 30 to 90 covers last year, moving to a bigger premises on Crookes high street. The demand was there, he says, and it’s easy to see why.

After sharing three popadoms (50p each) and pickle tray (£3), we kicked things off with a mixed kebab (sheek, shami and onion bhaji) and a chicken chat.

The standout was the bhaji, a sticky ball bursting with subtle sweetness, but the meats were pretty outstanding too. The chicken in particular offered no resistance to tooth or tongue, melting at the meerest hint of contact, giving away its Bombay spicing without fight or flight. A crisp iceberg-dominated salad offered a contrasting freshness.

If we’d have left then, Jaflong would be looking at a five star review. We didn’t.

The curries were nice enough but they didn’t quite live up to those delicious beginnings. My lamb karai, brought out fizzing and sizzling in its rich red sauce, had plenty of style but lacked real substance. The meat was cut into big and tenderised chunks but there wasn’t much of it. Large onion slices and pepper chunks dominated. Her lamb jalfrezi, meanwhile, was soaked in a top layer of oil. Underneath, the sauce had bite and there was a more generous supply of meat, but the cuts themselves were strangely bland.

Far better - indeed, back up to the height of those starters - was a side of saag aloo, a crushed-up mix of potato and spinach, offering a rough and honest counter to the richer mains. Chapatis and rice were good.

We skipped dessert, although there was the usual array of kulfi, milk puddings and caramel gateaux offered by staff who were friendly and accommodating all evening. Tiger or no tiger, there’s no doubt that over its 15 (or is it 16?) years, Jaflong has earned its, er, stripes.

With two pints, £41.70

Details:

VENUE: Jaflong, 186-188 Crookes, Sheffield, S10 1TG

PHONE: 0114 266 1802/07596 202214

WEBSITE: Jaflong

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