This old favourite of ours had not received a visit for some time, perhaps having been put off by the extremely slow service on the last two occasions. As IanD was on a tight budget (nothing new) we decided to take the chance and pay it another visit. SteveB assured us he had made the booking for 8.30pm but it had been entered in the book for 8.00pm. JohnH arrived first on his own to be told he was half an hour late and we were not there, so headed off back home. Luckily we were able to call him before he had got too far. The place was busy for a Wednesday night, with all tables in the rear area full. We were shown to out seats and left feeling to be abandoned - not even offered popadoms. They were understaffed with only 2 waiters keeping things running. However, without prompting, a waiter arrived to take our order and was happy to take a request from IanD for something not on the menu (although a quote was asked for beforehand). PhilS was misheard and almost got something completely different again.
For starters, onion bhajis all round (or rather, all flat). Generally good, nice crispy and with succulent innards, but PhilS thought they lacked a little in flavour. The sheek kebabs were also good, being of the long, spicy and hot variety. The shami kebab was also enjoyable whereas the aloo bora was rather dry and tasteless. The starters were accompanied by a couple of sauces, one being particularly garlicky.
The main course arrived promptly. IanD's special request of a Balti Kofta Bhuna contained too much ghee, and his balls were a bit crumbly and loose. The dish had an abundance of garlic causing him to reek for days after (not sure how anyone would know any different). SteveB's Balti Chicken Tikka Rogon had a very tasty tomatoey sauce containing nice tender chicken pieces, although not enough of them. A Balti Chicken Pathia was PhilS's choice. Again it lacked in the quantity of chicken, which seemed to be of a poorer quality, with some rather large, gristly chunks. Nevertheless, the sauce was hot with a good fruity taste, and also the right consistency for mopping up with the nan.
We opted for two table nans (one garlic, one plain), which were almost table sized. The garlic nan didn't taste too much of garlic, but generally they were good - well textured and cooked perfectly.
Despite being fairly busy and understaffed, we were in and out within an hour and a quarter - I guess Friday is the night to avoid if you are short of time. The prices are still very good - in some places we would have been lucky to get a main course for what we paid. Chicken dishes perhaps lacked a little in meat, but otherwise nothing to complain at with the quantity. Another bonus is that unlike other 'bring you own drink' places, no corkage fee is charged. Now we know that you've got to choose carefully the night that you visit Balti King to avoid slow service, it won't be long before we're back for our fourth review.
Which gives an overall rating of 4 bhajis.