The Bhaji Shop, Kelham Island, Sheffield (55%)


Saturday 28th April 2016.

That raw sewage sludging down Church Street, Oughtibridge. Bog roll flecking the long turdy streak trailing fifty yards or so. No one seemed to give a fig.

My ebullient projections in the Fat Cat were another thing. A council panjandrum tweaking my volume switch from across the room. So much for my Barry Manilow.

Now what… visit the chock-a-block Bhaji Shop, Kelham Island?

They’re a bit like those furry tennis balls you find behind your garden shed that hardly bounce, these onion bhajis. So you toss one back over the garden fence harmlessly bonking a rowdy child’s loaf…. New balls please!

And they call it thali but they aint even got the trays right. Back in a Bombay backwater circa 1991 I had the good fortune to catch a thali tray on a half hour coach stop, middle of the night (a botched kidnapping). This aint it. A few faux terracotta pots sit clumsily on a plate smeared with leftover pickle tray (no lime pickle). You got rice, bubblewrap flat bread, and a passable, bland dhal. The main stuff, mackerel or chicken – our choices from a grand total of three – was nicely cooked, we admit, but rather missing the point in their spiceless insipidity.

Scoff your so-so bistro bhaji and your Bobo fillet of fish. Down that last slug of Sam Smith’s IPA from the bottle. And get the hell on out of there before they demand your table back.

What is it with the patchouli joss sticks?


Judge ‘Gonzo’ Pickles
Fred ‘Skippy’ Pickles
Graham Bennett
Jason Paine



  1. Fred 'Skippy' Pickles · · Reply

    After sampling the pickle tray (featuring both pineapple and aubergine) and starters (an average bhaji and some very nicely cooked chicken wings (sadly lacking the tandoori flavour they were named with) we came to the main event. I quite liked the concept of it coming all on your plate at once. Tarka Daal, salad, rice, flatbread, chutney and a choice of curry. However, there were only three curry dishes to choose from. A veggie option (red pepper and paneer), fish (masala mackerel) and meat (chicken with a coconut and tomato sauce). Again, very well cooked, but no choice of heat levels and a little bland.

    For those who like Indian restaurants and the choice and variety, or even predictability they bring, then this might not be for you.


  2. Jason Paine · · Reply

    To sum it up, a disappointing experience.

    I think they were trying to be too clever which is a shame as it could have been much better with some tweaks.

    The highlights were two interesting pickle tray items, a sweet pineapple concoction and a contrasting aubergine effort.

    No spoons for the pickles though so we had to improvise with the dessert spoons to hand. They need to invest in some bigger plates, a small dish for a poppadom doesn’t work neither does not having the poppadoms on a large central plate. It’s the basics that let them down and unfortunately this was to be repeated through the meal.

    No beer on draft although there was a nice drop of Indian Ale served up bottle style. Gonzo’s face grimaced as he saw that the beers were all Samuel Smith’s, the traumatic past experiences of the Brown Bear coming back to haunt him.

    My starter was that bland I can’t even remember what it was. It was perfectly cooked but there was no real flavour, it comes back to basics again, jazz it up guys.

    We were limited to a choice of three main courses, I plumped for the chicken dish which was accompanied by an array of side dishes. Again it was all perfectly cooked but was without flavour. The bread in particular was soulless and would have been best left out.

    So it wasn’t great and I doubt I’ll ever return. They have a good spot and the restaurant is nicely set out so it could be so much better.

    Get the basics right and get some flavour into those dishes and I may be tempted to come back.


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