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.