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 Balti Central, Northampton
 Sunday, 3 September 2006
  restaurant factfile

Please note that we are unable to verify the impartiality of guest reviewers, so readers should use their own judgement.

Guest review
by Anthony Payne, Northampton

"The cheapest place in town" - don't let this boldly emblazoned claim above the door dissuade you from entering. My first reaction to this sign was concern, a feeling that was so far misplaced from reality that I feel obliged to submit my first review to onionbhaji.

It was a friend's birthday and eleven of us rocked up for our first Balti Central outing upon the recommendation of a couple that made up our group of thirteen. It was a Wednesday night and the place was reasonably quiet. We sat down right away and were comfortable in the simple and bright surroundings of the restaurant. The staff were polite and a round of drinks and poppadoms was ordered whilst we perused the sizeable menu.

The first thing that struck me was the remarkable similarity between the Balti Central menu and that of Imran's Balti Hut. Even the Chef's specials contained the Maricha, which I had always considered to be an Imran's exclusive. I don't know if there is any reason for this, although I suspect that a band of crafty mutineers have escaped to set up an alternative to arguably the most popular and almost legendary curry house in Northampton, with the aim of solving the irritating aspects of Imran's - such as its conveyor belt service and battery chicken farm, pack as many in as possible layout.

Seven starters were ordered within the group. I ordered the fabled Onion Bhaji whilst my girlfriend ordered a Sheesh Kebab. All starters arrived simultaneously and well presented. I received 4 bhajis with side salad whilst my better half received 2 kebabs. After a crafty trade, I can honestly say that both starters were amongst the best quality I have had in Northampton. The bhajis crispy and light, the kebabs fiery and fun, the salad fresh and complimentary.

For main, I had a Chicken Tikka Balti Maricha, a new variant of the Imran's classic whilst my girlfriend had Balti Chicken with spinach. We shared a mushroom rice and family naans floated around to share. The Maricha was truly spectacular and an unbelievable improvement on a dish that I personally felt was the finest curry in the town. The missus also proclaimed how great her meal was. Result!

Another round of drinks was ordered with our main course and a complimentary bottle of wine was given to the birthday girl! The waiter accidentally spilled a tiny drop of wine on me, resulting in an immediate apology and my next drink on the house too. It would have been two free drinks too if he'd have had his way - but it really was the smallest amount.

Finally the staff took us by surprise by bringing out a small birthday dessert for our birthday girl, topped with a single candle and proceeded to sing happy birthday. Unbelievable! With the standard of food and service, my only concern was how they are profitable!

Nevertheless, a fantastic night was had by all. 11 of us paid for the 13, as we covered the cost of the birthday girl and her boyfriend. With a very healthy (just short of 20%) tip, it cost each of us 11 just £20 each.

Sounds ridiculous I know, but I have been back four times now with different friends and the experience has been consistent. There is a new king in town... long live the King!!!

Anthony rated this 10 out of 10.