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Nawabs, Dronfield

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Brotherly love’s all very well but there’s nothing like a little sibling rivalry to get the competitive juices flowing.

So when you are taking your first steps in the restaurant trade and your big brother already runs a highly regarded restaurant, you can be sure the stakes are that little bit higher. 

 

So when you are taking your first steps in the restaurant trade and your big brother already runs a highly regarded restaurant, you can be sure the stakes are that little bit higher. 

 

And sure enough, Habib Rahman, one of the team behind The Nawabs Brasserie, in Dronfield, will admit to wanting to beat brother, Mizan, at his own game.

 

Mizan runs Prithi Raj on Ecclesall Road, Sheffield, which has twice been named best Indian in the restaurant awards run by Southside’s sister magazine, Westside.

 

It’s a friendly rivalry – the brothers each encourage customers to try the other’s establishment – but there’s no doubt that Nawabs is out to pinch a bit of the Prithi Raj glory.

 

And the early signs are good. This time last year, Nawabs was a somewhat jaded eatery housed in a former pub. But a classy makeover during the summer has given it a new lease of life. The red-carpeted entrance leads to a welcoming and comfortable bar and the dining room feels luxurious, with bright fabrics and shining white table linen creating an up-market ambience that’s a long way from your stereotypical post-pub curry house.

 

And the menu’s been brushed up too with some more familiar northern Indian dishes added to chef Neepur Ali’s repertory of southern Indian specials, featuring the region’s characteristically more astringent tastes. The downside of being Britain’s favourite foreign cuisine means it is unusual to find something truly unusual on Indian restaurant menus, but Nawabs manages it with some intriguing dishes and flavour combinations on offer.

 

We started traditionally enough with some satisfyingly crispy poppodoms and an impressive pickle tray – red chilli mango sauce and deliciously sticky, sweet raisin sauce were new ones on me.

 

A luxuriously rich prawn puree, flavoured with coconut, came inside a giant bowl of delicate pastry while my starter of subtly-spiced fish tikka got the meal off to a truly sizzling start.

 

Despite the macho temptation and in the interests of self-preservation, I side-stepped the ze zaal – chicken or lamb cooked with naga chillies ‘the world’s hottest’  – and opted for another unfamiliar dish, chicken shatkora, featuring a spicy combination of fresh chillies, ginger, tomato sauce and wild Bangladeshi citrus, which provided a real lemony zing.

 

Across the table, Grill fangash came with a bowl of deep-red tamarind sauce adding sweet and sour tartness to slices of Bay of Bengal fish delicately flavoured with herbs and spices.

 

Garlic naan and pilau rice were perfect accompaniments and, demonstrating the kitchen’s preparedness to go off-menu if necessary, Habib recommended a special side dish of thinly-sliced spiced potato as a side dish.

 

It’s early days for the new-look Nawabs Brasserie and there’s a bit of catching up to do in the awards department, but I doubt it’ll be long before there’s a plaque or two adorning the walls – it’s got my vote already.

 

Nawabs Brasserie, 51 Sheffield Road, Dronfield, S18 2GF

Tel: 01246 419841

www.nawabsbrasserie.co.uk

 

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