From the outside, Scarborough Balti House is about as appealing as gout.
Through squinted eyes, it resembles the offices of a budget taxi firm.
Absent are the faux leather trimmings and snazzy fascias that are common place among Scarborough’s other Indians.
It’s not stylish, it’s not trendy and it’s not modern – but on the whole, it’s brilliant.
It’s the food you see, not the furnishings, that keep this genuine hidden gem ticking over.
Generous slabs of meat, coated not in the generic slop that many curry houses choose to use, but sauces that have depth, flavour, and most importantly, are lovingly made from scratch.
To start, the other two members of my party shared the Special Kharahi Mix.
It’s a dish you will see in nearly every Indian restaurant in the country, a platter of lamb, chicken and kebabs.
But this was something else. The meat cooked to perfection, and the flavour simply out of this world.
Both diners said it was one of the best starters they had ever had, and I have to disagree.
Unfortunately my starter, the Chicken Pakora, was less impressive.
Dipped in red breadcrums, the three smallish pakoras looked more like crab sticks, and were just a bit under whelming on every front.
The chicken itself was lovely, meaty and well cooked, but the dish just lacked oomph.
However, all of our mains absolutely sizzled.
It’s almost impossible to pick off the menu, that beside the balti, barely has a recognizable word on it.
It’s basically seven pages of specials, cooked with seemingly every ingredient known to man.
The Karahi ‘E’ Naga was the undoubted star of the show. A unique, fragrant dish, the sauce is like nothing I’ve ever tasted. Everything in it (and there’s a lot) comes together to create a little slice of heaven.
The Lamb Rangila was also delicious, the bullet chillies giving it a tremendous kick, and although the lamb was a little ropey, on the whole the dish was superb.
Served with the obligatory naans and rice, as well as one of the best taarka daals I’ve ever sampled, the food was magnificent.
However, and it’s a credit to the cooking, that I’m over three quarters of the way through, and I haven’t mentioned the best aspect of the restaurant – the value.
The food is cheap on any night, but visit on a Tuesday or Wednesday, and you’re looking at £8.95 for the works. Incredible.
It’s astonishing that it even makes a cent on these nights, especially considering that it doesn’t possess a liquor license, meaning diner’s can bring their own booze with them.
This is a restaurant that truly relies on word of mouth to keep customers trickling through its doors – with the consenus being that this is simply a great restaurant.
And if you are so superficial that you will let a garish shop front put you off sampling truly delicious food, then shame on you.
And in a town which boasts its fair share of Indians and takeaways, it should almost be obligatory that everybody in Scarborough tries the Balti House at least once.
Menu choice 9
OVERALL RATING 8