Miah’s SaffronBy Phil Creighton
September 11, 2008
Steve Coppell and I finally have something in common.
It’s taken a while: my footie skills meant I was always picked last while my footie team selection skills mean I’m hovering close to the bottom of the office fantasy league team (although it’s Nick Ive, the Evening Post’s footie correspondent who currently holds the wooden spoon).
I can’t even claim to have Steve’s wit or wisdom.
But we have both managed to get a sneak preview of the new Miah’s Saffron restaurant, which opens today.
The Whitley Street diner was recently taken over by Jamshed Miah to become the fourth restaurant in his local chain.
Over the course of the summer, he has renovated the small diner, installed new furnishings and carpets (so soft that one can bounce up and down on them) and adorned the walls with his trademark angels.
My memories of the previous Saffron, an old haunt from the days when I edited the Uni’s student newspaper, was of a nice place, serving bog standard curries in very dark surroundings.
Admittedly, we used to visit just before closing time, just after we’d finished that week’s edition and it was pitch black outside.
But this is a real difference. It’s light, airy and spacious.
The seating area is arranged like a galley, with ample room down the middle for the waiting staff to bring their trolleys laden with tasty treats to your table.
There is, as with the other Miah branches bar Spencers Wood, a pleasant seating area for take outs to wait for their meals. And there’s a beautiful new bar, which contains the usual Indian lagers on tap, plus a well-stocked drinks cabinet.
It is a terrific transformation.
The menu is the usual Miah’s: packed with the traditional favourites that everyone loves including the vegetarian tikka massala that Judith enjoyed (£7.75) and the contemporary menu, which is a touch above the ordinary balti.
For starters, we enjoyed the eadul gustawa, a lamb picatta in a buttery coriander sauce (£4.95), the mixed starter (onion bahaji, sheekh kebab and chicken tikka, £4.95) and the chicken tikka patibola (£3.95).
An electic mix of dishes, there was something for everyone; and with every mouthful there’s an aftertaste of something different, be it citrus or corriander flavours.
The tikka patibola is a light pastry filled with spiced chicken and served in a light green moat: presentation is excellent and the sauce was so special we kept dipping into it.
For our mains, as well as the aforementioned veggie dish (vegetarians are well catered for here), we enjoyed the chicken korma (£4.95), a delightful take on the ever-popular dish and two contemporary dishes, the shabe kaliyan chandi (£7.75) and the murgh bemissal (£7.75).
The chandi, lamb in an aromatic gravy with cashew nuts, almonds and saffron garnished with mint leaves, was Fenton’s choice and having previously enjoyed it, it was recommended.
Gentle and subtle, this is not a normal curry where the emphasis is on bulk, ghee and eating too much. Its light taste and tender meat makes it something special.
The bemissal was a tikka chicken in a buttery tomato sauce, flavoured with onions and garlic.
An interesting take on a tikka massala, it had a pleasant kick to it, with the spices glowing in your throat.
Miah’s Saffron is now ready for kick-off, thankfully it’s open for longer than 90 minutes.
If you visit, you’ll leave (hopefully) like Reading’s opposition: stuffed. That’s a result.
- Telephone: (0118) 975 7789
- Website: www.miahs.co.uk
- Address: Miah’s Saffron,
39 Whitley Street,