Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The 1875 - Menston

The 1875 describes itself as a gastronomic journey through India. Run by the finest of men, Manjinder was born in India but moved to our great country at the tender age of 4. He did return to India later in life and it was then that he discovered that there was even more to Indian food than people in this country generally perceive (More than his mothers home cooking but I'm assured this isn't to be faulted either). His dream is to bring real, fine, truly Indian cuisine to the friendly folk of Yorkshire.

He has some good grounding in that he grew up sampling his mothers homemade cuisine every day. He has good friends in the restaurant business and he has the right attitude. I hope this man goes far and achieves all of his dreams.

You'd be forgiven for almost walking past The 1875 as you get off the train at Menston. From the platform the building looks just like any other small town railway station. However there is a hidden surprise here, turn the corner enter through a side door and climb the stairs and you're transported in to Manjinder's world.

So why call an Indian restaurant 'The 1875'? Why not call it Menston Spice? Would you really be intrigued to go to Menston Spice? The 1875 is simple but has a story behind it, this time in history the Brits were tramping all over India creating havoc in the beautiful country but making their influence on the culture and food. A truly historic time for India. But also a historic time for Menston for this was when the station was built too.

Manjinder has set his sights high, wanting to challenge people's views of Indian food. However he has since taken this further and has decided to take on the our most loved food. Sunday lunch (or dinner depending on where you're from), the most chosen meal for the burning question 'What would be your last supper'* So to take this on is like saying to a child "You know that favourite TV programme of yours? Well I'm going to add a bit of Bollywood to it?", you know that programme they watch over and over again until you yourself know every single word, sigh, tune and note... A bit like your dad's (or mums) world class Sunday dinner.

*No research was carried out for this post

It's a mean feat. I wont deny that when Manjinder invited me and a friend for Sunday lunch I was a bit sceptical. As the weekend drew closer all I wanted was a proper Sunday lunch. I was beginning to think that I should start planning a back up for later in the week so I didn't feel cheated come Sunday when I didn't get my traditional roast.

I couldn't have been more disillusioned.

When we arrived there was no one in the restaurant, apparently most people had booked earlier and later in the day than we had. So for the whole meal we had the restaurant, the chef and Manjinder to ourselves.... and I loved it.

Escorted to our seats and coats taken, not left to be draped over the back of our chairs, Manjinder began to explain the menu to us. For starters there was only one choice carrot and mint soup, but for the main we had a choice of meat: chicken, beef or pork. Alternatively there was a vegetarian choice.

It didn't take us long to decide what we wanted as we only needed to decide upon a drink and what meat we wanted. We ordered a coke and a diet coke, I'm not very good at drinking in the afternoon (I would have been asleep by 3pm with just one glass of wine).

Our starter came out pretty speedily.

So here is the carrot and mint soup served with poppadoms. I am pleased to say that poppadoms went really well with this particular soup. There was a slight spice to it but it wasn't burn your mouth hot and the soup was thick enough to make the poppadoms a pleasant edition. Poppadoms with a thinner soup wouldn't have worked at all. I polished off my bowl and was considering finishing my friend's too as they had left about half of it worrying that it would fill them up too much.

Moving swiftly on to the mains (remember we were the only ones in the restaurant so waiting times were vastly reduced!). The top one is my chicken plate and the bottom my friend's pork. Both served with roast potatoes, a lightly spiced gravy and an Anglo-Indian Yorkshire pudding. The only way I can describe the Yorkshire pudding is by saying it was like a Dosa crossed with a Yorkshire pudding. It was very nice especially with the ever so slightly spiced gravy. The chicken and pork had both been marinated over night and then roasted the next day, mixing the two food cultures of Indian marinating and British roasting. The meat was really tender and soft, once again there was only a hint of spice and it work really well. The roasties were just how I like them crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.

We had a plate of vegetables separate to share between us.

The accompanying vegetables were crushed cabbage (not a massive fan of cabbage but I had a good go at it) buttered roasted carrot sticks and peppers battered and fried. The carrots were amazing I never thought a carrot could taste so creamy and delectable.

We were both stuffed to the rafters afterwards and although we would have loved a dessert we simply didn't have the room.

The food here is locally sourced and seasonally fresh, so don't expect the same things to be on the menu as what you've see here.

Manjinder was serving and he was an absolute gem. He wasn't intrusive but was considerate of our needs. He kept a safe distance but wasn't far away when we needed him. He was the ultimate gentleman; so kind and caring too. I loved reading more about his life and aspirations in the magazine he presented me with which featured an article about his take on Christmas dinner and on his website also. He was free at the end of the meal to hear our verdicts and discuss more about himself and the restaurant. I gave him my honest opinion and told him I was a little worried about what I was letting myself in for, but in the end I wasn't disappointed at all. I had my traditional Sunday lunch but with something a little bit different also. Different is definitely not bad in this case.

We both hope to go back to try the A La Carte menu, although we were advised to book ahead as the restaurant only seats 50.

As you can see it is elegantly decorated, and has a feel of intimacy. They close the doors at 9.30pm but diners in before then can stay much much longer, their aim of this is to avoid the drunken crowd descending either on their way to Leeds or their way back from Leeds. I respected him for making this decision because I have been in a restaurant with a large crowd or sometimes just a one drunken so-and-so and they can really spoil the mood and your whole meal.

The restaurant is obviously really accessible with it being virtually on the train platform, Menston is easily accessible to us in Shipley as there is a direct train. There are also direct trains from Leeds with the latest departing at 11.30pm for those party-harders who fancy a tipple in town afterwards.

When I do return I promise to do an update and tell you all about it!

Take a trip to Menston and try this World first Sunday lunch, you won't be disappointed.

Sunday lunch will set you back at £9.99 each for two courses (starter and main) plus drinks.

The 1875
Above Menston Railway Station
Station Road
LS29 6JH


**for a limited time only - the first 100 followers (on twitter @1875Restaurant and Facebook facebook.com1875-Restaurant) of 1875 will receive a complimentary kulfi when they book the Sunday lunch featured above**

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