Thaal Restaurant, Darfield

Fine dining in swish surroundings.
Fine dining in swish surroundings.

South Yorkshire’s guide to fine food and drink, with Quentin Quaffer and Susan Scoffer

Hungry for New Year adventure, – and poppadoms – Quentin announced that he wanted to go an a journey... through Indian food!

And so, we returned, drooling, to Darfield’s Doncaster Road for dinner in the Thaal.

Two weeks ago, we were wolfing down traditional home-cooked simple dishes at the newly-opened Mumbai Lounge.

Now, just a few hundred yards away, we were tucking into the very latest in Indian cuisine – cutting-edge “fusion” food; a style poles apart from the dishes served by their new neighbours... but absolutely as delicious!

Arriving in the stylish, sleek Thaal, we were struck by how busy it was – at 6.30pm on a January weekday night.

Settling down with our drinks, Quents’ bulging eyes were caught by balti and biriani... flambéed with brandy!

“I have never seen this on an Indian menu before... I must have it!” he beamed, behind plate-sized eyes.

Browsing the menu revealed even more delights in the boozy balti vein – there’s also a flaming sambuca.

Our poppadoms arrived promptly – along with one of the best pickle trays I’ve ever sampled.

With five options – including a delicious red chutney, moreish mango chutney, a cool raita and an onion salad – the only let down was my all-time favourite, lime pickle. Barely more than an egg-cupful arrived and, Quents and I all but had a fork duel over who got the second – and final – dibs. I won, of course!

Fancying something entirely new, I chose the Chot Poti – fried chickpeas in a sweet and sour sauce – for a starter.

Served as a sort of patty, the lentils were soft, but firm. Although a bit bizarre, it was tasty enough.

Quents enjoyed his Kundan Machli – two cod fillet pieces, spiced and fried – and it disappeared down his bulging neck, in an instant.

I picked Palki Jinga for a main course – jumbo king prawns cooked with spinach and topped with fresh garlic. With four prawns, it was small but perfectly formed though I was glad I’d had the foresight to order a side dish – a delicious course of vegetables cooked in coconut milk with cinnamon and mangoes – otherwise I might have still been peckish.

Quents lapped up his mixed meat brandy balti. It had arrived quietly but was then turned into a ball of flames, before being snuffed out and relocated into Quentin’s gut just as quickly. Licking his lips, he declared it to be a triumph.

With pilau rice, a very cheesy cheese naan, and a couple of drinks each, the sum for our feast fell just short of a not-unreasonable £50.

Quents declared he had greatly enjoyed his edible journey through Indian food and time – and would happily eat his way along Doncaster Road again. I award the Thaal four and a half stars for its fine dining and daring menu... a vital step along Darfield’s new Spice Road.

~ Sue