Big groups can lead to long waits for food and mixed-up orders, so what a breath of fresh air the Guardian’s Christmas meal at Jhinook was.
We arrived at the Ryton Street Indian restaurant at 5.30pm - minus a couple of our group who were stuck on delayed trains.
This wasn’t a problem for the helpful staff, who showed us to our seats and took our drinks order while we awaited our tardy friends.
Our drinks arrived quickly and people took their time perusing the extensive menu. There was an array of tempting dishes to choose from and everyone was happy with what was on offer.
No Indian meal would be complete without starting out with poppadoms. They, along with the generous and delicious pickle trays, arrived quickly - a blessing as we were all very hungry.
Eager to get onto the main event, no one opted for starters. But there was a good selection to choose from including chicken or lamb tikka at £2.95, onion bhaji at £1.95 and fish pakora at £4.20.
For my main course I went for a lamb bhuna at £5.95, and feeling hungry, I decided to go for a both pilau rice and a garlic naan bread as well.
My colleagues went for an array of dishes including chicken jalfrezi at £6.50, chicken tikka masala at £6.95, vegetable jalfrezi at £5.50 and lamb kashmiri at £5.95.
My lamb bhuna was cooked perfectly. Not too spicy, the lamb was beautifully tender and packed with flavour. It arrived piping hot and in a generous portion - enough for two full plates. The garlic naan had a lovely flavour and the rice was cooked just right.
Everyone around the table agreed that their food was well cooked and tasty. The curries were all brimming with succulent chunks of meat - apart from the veggie ones of course - and the peshwari naans were sweet and delicious.
The waiters were attentive and made sure that our glasses never ran dry. After our meal we were given hot towels to wipe our hands - or faces depending on who you were.
The bill came accompanied by a generous number of tasty mint chocolates, enough so that I could have an extra one while no-one was looking.
At £192 for 12 people with poppadoms and drinks, we were all impressed with the fantastic value for money.
All in all, it was probably the best works Christmas meal I have had. Great service, fantastic food and easy on the pocket.
Whether you are after a quiet meal for two, or a large celebration with a big group, you would struggle to do better than Jhinook.