It's been almost 4 years since we last reviewed Balti King, which is all the more surprising since this is generally regarded as our favourite curry house, and where onionbhaji.co.uk was conceived. It's always been a very popular restaurant, due to its low prices and bring-your-own-alcohol policy, and since our last visit they've clearly altered the layout in order to pack as many people in as possible. There's been some refurbishment that has increased the space, and maybe it's just my memory playing tricks but the tables look closer together too. However, despite it being a Saturday night, it was barely half full.
We were happy to see they still sold starters individually and cheaply, the idea being to mix and match anything you like. IanD and PhilS ordered onion bhaji, sheek kebab and shami kebab, whilst SteveB just went for onion bhaji and sheek kebab. Unfortunately when they all arrived, SteveB's sheek kebab hadn't and it was a further 5 minutes before one was brought out, complete with another plate of salad. Mint sauce was provided promptly and without asking, something many more expensive restaurants should take note from. All the starters, whilst tasting very good, were overcooked on the outside making for crispy bhajis and leathery kebabs. Probably the result of being cooked earlier in the day and reheated when ordered.
On to the main courses, and baltis were ordered by all. They're served in large balti dishes here which makes the portions look small, however it's deceptive and they're actually a decent enough size. PhilS and IanD both went for the same dishes again, this time the chicken pathia. It arrived piping hot, with a runny sauce and tender well-cooked chicken pieces floating about, more akin to soup. It could have been a bit spicier, but was well flavoured. SteveB chose the chicken bhuna, which had a perfect thick tasty sauce and plenty of chicken pieces. These varied between very tender and slightly tough, but overall good enough. To accompany our baltis, we ordered a table keema nan to share between us. The nan bread was excellent, and the keema was nicely moist too, the only problem being it wasn't evenly spread.
Our previous reviews for Balti King all commented on how slow the service was, generally caused by too many customers and too few waiters. Perhaps it was only that the restaurant was half full, but the service this time was reasonably quick. SteveB finished with a floater coffee, and even after that we'd only been in the restaurant a little over an hour. Overall the food was very good, but perhaps unusually the best thing we received was the bill. It came to £20 exactly between the 3 of us, and for that Balti King retains its crown as the best value Indian restaurant we know.
Which gives an overall rating of 4 bhajis.