Sufian on Spital Terrace is a restaurant that is definitely worth a visit.
The ambience is light and snug with striking red panels on the walls and ceiling. However, perhaps it does feel a like it was given a sixty minute makeover earlier in the day to create the impression of what a typical English person thinks a Bangladeshi restaurant should look like.
The staff’s approach to waiting is laid back, which at first, seems aloof, but in actual fact, they are more than willing to chat and they certainly create a relaxed atmosphere. In other words, the staff are keen to make you feel as though you’re a regular which I could easily become.
The menu certainly offers choice. It reads more like a bible than a menu, it’s a good job the staff favour a leisurely approach to dinning. You don’t want to be in a hurry, as you need plenty of time to choose what you’re going to order. Is a lot of choice always a good thing?
One-way of scaling down the menu, and I aim this at other similar restaurants, is to get rid of the ‘Non-Indian Dishes’. If you want a plain omelette in a Bangladeshi restaurant, all I can say is you shouldn’t be going there in the first place.
That evening I dined with my partner who said she wanted to try a drink called a Lassi, which is a yoghurt based drink-very refreshing and soothing especially if you are going to have a hot dish. In conversation with the waiter he said that he’d had customers saying the drink needed to be sweeter and so he’d added extra sweetener. This example illustrates that the staff are accommodating, taking customer feedback and amending the food accordingly.
I drank a lemonade - which amused my partner. Sufian does not have a drinks licence but you can take your own.
We started our meal with the pickles tray. The mango chutney was too runny and jam like and the lime pickle not strong enough for our taste buds.
However, the Raitha was the best my partner said she’s had in town. We shared a chapati, which, again, we feel was the best in town.
For main I had chicken madras, which was very good, crammed full of flavour and chicken, whereas in similar restaurants the ration of meat to sauce is not high. My partner ordered Machli Sallom which described itself as ‘an authentic Bangladeshi dish consisting of diced pieces of fish cooked in a medium spice infused with ginger, chopped onions and garam masala.’
The portion sizes are more than generous, yet you don’t leave the table feeling bloated. The food has a home cooked, wholesome feel to it.
This is comfort food at its best.
By Chris Etchells