A LITTLE jewel is making a brave attempt to shine out near the Meadowhall Retail Park…
Or not, actually, as there definitely needs to be more lighting and signs to make the Jewel Indian restaurant, at the old Pheasant Inn, stand out a bit more amid the maze of roads around Meadowhall and Sheffield Arena.
The restaurant was opened in April by the Lord Mayor and it is going for the high end of the Indian food market. If you want to go somewhere cheap in the area, better head to Attercliffe.
Angur Miah, who runs the place on behalf of an owner from Nottinghamshire with his best friend Jamshed Ali, talks sniffily about buffet nights and says there definitely won’t be any of those.
He says that the market in Nottingham, where he worked before, is very competitive, not on price but rather on innovative dishes.
It will be interesting to see if their formula of quality food and service at a price works in Sheffield or not, especially given the location well away from most of the more expensive city Indian restaurants in well-to-do suburbs.
The head chef has been brought over from India and used to work in five-star restaurants and that sheds some light on some of the dishes on the menu.
As well as the favourite and familiar starters and main courses, there is a range of more unusual dishes to choose from including several with duck.
There are also a few options for the fish lover, although sadly vegetarian dishes only feature on classic choices.
Jewel’s boast is that everything is cooked properly and they do not rely on generic sauces that are tarted up a bit like many restaurants that offer a wide choice of dishes do.
Service is efficient and attentive and it’s the sort of place where your black and gold napkin is spread in your lap.
We ordered poppadoms and pickles while we looked at the menu (£3.20) and the pickles were very good, including a lovely fresh-tasting aubergine one.
There is a wine list with prices starting from about £12 for a bottle of the house choices but I prefer lager with curry and my friend Liz and I had a pint of Kingfisher each.
Between courses Liz remarked that the place was pretty plain as she was facing bare cream walls. I was amused by that as my view took in walls decorated with upmarket black wallpaper with large cream and gold roses on them. It’s far from claustrophobic as it is a big room and there’s plenty of space left around your table.
My starter was definitely inspired by the chef’s past as it was salmon coated in a paste of dill mustard, lemon and spices cooked in a tandoor (£6.95).
Liz had batak ke bazule, julienne strips of crispy duck in a tomato tamarind sauce with spring onions, peppers and coriander (£6.45).
Mine was very good with the beautifully cooked salmon complemented by the spicy, slightly sweet coating.
Liz said that the dark brown sauce on the duck, which wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Chinese restaurant, had a good kick to it but found it too rich and ‘gloopy’. I had a taste and agreed.
Prices for starters run from £3.45 to £7.45 for the chef’s choices and the more familiar classics are a bit cheaper, at £3.50 to £4.95. There are also sharing platters at £9.95 for a vegetarian version or £11.95 for a meaty one.
I was fascinated to see wild rabbit on the menu, so I had to order it.
In junglee kargosh (£11.95), the rabbit is cooked slowly in a thick medium hot sauce.
Mr Miah took care to point out that there would be lots of small bones to deal with when he took my order.
Liz went for dohi machh (£13.25), a fillet of white fish in a yoghurt-based sauce with mustard seeds and curry leaves.
We also shared some pilau rice (£2.95) and a coriander naan (£2.95).
Main course prices run from £5.95 to £15.95. Had I not tried rabbit, I would have been tempted by lal mans, a Rajasthani dish of lamb slow cooked in whole spices and yoghurt (£10.95).
I was pleased with my choice, though. There were generous pieces of moist rabbit coated in the sauce which had a good depth of spices that really added to the interest of the dish.
Liz was delighted with her fish, which tasted fresh and meltingly tender. As well as the fresh curry leaves and mustard seeds, there was an intriguing taste of sesame seeds in the sauce.
The accompaniments were also up to a high standard, particularly the naan bread smothered in fresh coriander.
We couldn’t quite finish it all off, so it was whisked off into the kitchen and packed into boxes for us to take away.
Mr Miah didn’t know who we were but as new customers he was keen to make a good impression, so we were offered complimentary coffees after the hot towels had been cleared away.
They didn’t have decaff for Liz, so he produced a pistachio kulfi ice cream for her instead and then offered me one as well and I had mango. Mine was delicious.
Our bill came to a hefty £54.95.
Verdict: One to try for a bit of a treat, given the cost, but the service is excellent and the food is pretty good.
Jewel, 436 Attercliffe Common, Sheffield, S9 2FH. 0114 243 0275/4469. www.jewelsheffield.co.uk
Opening times: Sunday to Thursday 5.30pm to 11.30pm, Friday and Saturday 5.30pm to 12.30am.