To say I was a little apprehensive about my visit to Akhtars was an understatement. Recently released food hygiene ratings placed Akhtars at the bottom of the pile of Worksop eateries – with a zero star rating.
But that inspection was some five months ago, and a lot can change in five months.
Taking heed from my colleagues, however, I took to the voyage, alone.
Situated half-way up Gateford Road, the Asian woman glazed in red projected on to a big plasma TV in the window oddly reminds me of when Vigo emerged from his canvas cell in Ghostbusters II.
Reaching for the door, my knees buckle in trepidation.
The friendly man behind the counter assured me the place was still open for business, despite its rock-bottom rating.
Told not to worry, you can even see the food being prepared before your very eyes due to the layout of the kitchen, which was spotless. His confidence was convincing, I just hoped mine was not ill-placed.
Once inside, however, all fears were lost when reading the menu. Sectioned into what would burn my mouth less: chicken tikka massala, pilau rice and three vegetable samosas came to £9.90.
West End prices, which put pressure on if the food could match up to the price tag?
Little less than 20 minutes later, and I had my answer.
A confident yes.
This was easily the best curry I’ve had in a long time, in fact, when savouring the spices it’s hard to remember any that you’ve had before or imagine any other you’d try again. The portions were more than generous and you could easily share the curry.
My order was even accompanied by a side salad and a pot of dressing, a little bit more for a little bit more, I guess.
But, it’s the quality of the food which earned this dining experience a top mark.
Beautiful from start to finish, the chicken was textured and was by no means a chore, which is often the case with take-away chicken.
Even as I was tucking into the tantalising tea time treat, I didn’t want to make it easy for them.
Packaging it all back up, I drove 10 miles before stopping again to see how warm the food would keep.
Steam rose from the tin foil, once more, so I decided to let the little nibble go down and finish this dining experience at home.
An hour had passed since the food was bagged up in my hand, and it had remained warm, elevating Akhtars as a beacon some town take-aways would do well to match, let alone emulate.
I will definitely be going back soon, unnerved.
by Matt Brooks
star rating HHHHH