“ 1312 Leeds Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD3 8LF.Tel:01274 258025 „
Zouk's Tea Bar and Grill is a contemporary Indian restaurant situated in the Bradford suburb of Thornbury, about five minutes drive from the city centre. It's in an area with some other quite funky contemporary Indian restaurants, although the rest of the block that Zouk is part of is quite run down.
I chose this restaurant partly because it was near our hotel (the Travelodge) but mainly because I wanted to book two contrasting restaurants, a modern one for lunch and a more traditional one for the evening. From those listed on the Visit Bradford website, Zouk jumped out because of its name and because it looked ultramodern on the photographs. I was encouraged to read just how many awards Zouk Bradford and its sister restaurant in Manchester have won in recent years.
Ignoring the other buildings on the block, first impressions of Zouk were excellent; there were some very colourful hanging baskets outside and you could see the stylish interior through the huge picture windows.
The cooking area is open and runs along the right hand side as you enter the restaurant. Nestled in a gap in the centre of the counter is a big shiny tandoor oven. Some of the fresh produce was displayed in a glass fronted chiller, the food looked delicious so this was an enticing display.
A waiter appeared and led us to a table. There are a mixture of tables for two (mostly alongside the window), free standing tables in the centre of the restaurant, and a few tables that share a high-backed bench along one wall, and normal chairs on the other side of the table. We were offered a table by the window and were pleased to be able to watch what was going on in this busy suburb. The chairs were quite low and were sleek funky round chairs that were very comfortable - once you got used to them. The restaurant has a simple colour scheme but there are flashes of colour in the upholstery and in the single flowers on each table. Overall the vibe is modern and stylish.
The menus were also well designed; a long oblong shape made from very thick card, folded into sections, it opened out into one big piece but it was easier to keep it folded and turn the pages. The food was conveniently split up into sections so it was easy for us to find a few smaller dishes to make up a meal because we didn't want to eat too much with another big meal to come. There were hot and cold appetisers, main courses, vegetarian dishes (some of which could be ordered as a main course or a side dish), rice and breads and desserts. Even among the starters we were spoiled for choice with options like quail cropping up and the overall menu should satisfy even the pickiest of diners.
Our waiter was a little unsure as he was quite new but he got lots of support from a very able colleague. We were asked for a drinks order first and our drinks came very quickly. When we ordered our food we asked for it to come all at the same time, which it did. The more senior waiter did ask if we were certain we'd ordered enough food but we stayed firm, knowing we could always order more if we needed to.
We had ordered the chicken livers and were presented with a decent portion of well spiced tender liver and onions; this dish had a secret weapon - a good kick of heat that waited a moment before surprising you. We also ordered "palak tikka" which didn't arrive as we had anticipated. There were two little patties like bread-crumbed and fried discs of spinach; the texture was quite chewy and, while this was not at all what we'd expected, the patties were delicious. We had ordered a "daahl of the day" but weren't told what exactly the dhal was on that particular day. This was brought in a stainless steel dish that was kept warm over a small burner. There was plenty here for two people and the rich dhal was very tasty and again beautifully spiced. The lentils still had a decent texture and there were lots of red flecks from the chillies. We had asked for a side dish portion of one of the vegetable dishes "Mili Juli Sabzi"; ths was a tasty mixture of aubergine, peppers and new potatoes. Finally we had a nan bread which was lovely and light, not the thick stodge you often get in British "curry houses" that is often too filling. Overall we were left feeling satisfied but not uncomfortable. One word of warning - the food is pretty hot so if you don't like it very spicy then mention this to the staff. It seems silly to say this when describing an Indian restaurant but we were surprised how spicy the food was and we love hot food. Even the chutney which you might expect to be a bit cooler was quite fiery!
The restaurant is open from late morning and advertises as being a good place to go for breakfast lunch or dinner, I'm not sure what one might have for breakfast - maybe there is a separate menu? Although I do like to try new places on my travels, I would definitely go back to Zouk if I was in Bradford again (or the Manchester branch if in that city) because there were a number of very tasty sounding dishes on the menu that I would have considered ordering had I been having a full meal. I really fancied the black cod (£14.95) or the halibut (£13.95) though I wonder whether these items might occasionally be unavailable.
If you live in Bradford and have never been to Zouk's, what is wrong with you? This place is great! If you live in Leeds or any other part of West Yorkshire it's worth the trip. Zouk's serve quality food Indian food with a contemporary twist and in stylish surroundings, and at just a shade under £20 for a light lunch including drinks (one bottle of Cobra and one soft drink), I'm sure you'll agree that this is terrific value.
1312 Leeds Road