You may remember me visiting Masala Craft a little while ago when they opened up on Fishergate in premises that had previously seen a fairly high turnover of occupants. If you do then you’ll remember how impressed I was and, if you follow our twitter account, you may have seen praise from a rather more high profile commentator too. Admittedly he’s a snooker commentator, but Steve Davis knows his curry too.
I’m extremely pleased to see that the original Masala Craft has been such a success that the guys have taken the plunge and headed into the centre of York to open a second branch on King Street! The area around Kings Staith has seen a bit of a resurgence recently with My Thai, Winner Winner and Reina setting out their stalls. This is a beautiful corner of our city and it’s nice to have some diversity in the area. All too often the main impression one’s left with of the area is a riverside ashtray.
|The interior of the new restaurant is a lovely place to be, with pictures of spices dominating the walls and very little passing traffic to disturb the nice view onto the street. Menus in hand from the enthusiastic owners, we politely decline cocktails (I don’t doubt they’re sensational, but not for me though) and start going through the menu, after a quick chat about the ethos behind the cooking. The guys are intent on re-educating us about Indian food to shatter our preconceptions after years of anglicised greasy dishes. York isn’t without places to get a good curry, but it’s refreshing to see the confidence in this approach. Interestingly 29 States, recently open opposite Clifford’s Tower, is taking a similar approach, something that’s bound to pay off for both establishments as us great unwashed learn the nuances of their dishes.
More committed to authenticity they might be, but poppadoms are present and correct alongside pickles that packed in flavour without resorting to teeth sucking sharpness or eye watering heat. Time to move into the first course and Masala Dosa and Kesari chicken presented themselves smartly and lived up to the presentation. Masala Dosa was light and moist, the filling well-spiced and of consistent texture with well-matched side sauce. Kesari chicken walked the tightrope between pleasantly charred and burnt wonderfully, leaving us all set for the main event.
On the side we had a peshwari naan to share that performed the neat trick of being more bread-like than that typically served, but still not uncomfortably dense. Fantastic.
I’ve never seen a curry presented like this before. In a metal pot completely covered in a thin layer of dough to allow the contents to steam. Cracking it open revealed rich tomato sauce and prawns sighing steam at their release. I’d intended to order a Shrimp Bhuna but on the server’s advice went for Jhinga dum anari and absolutely loved it. Sweet and with well-balanced spice, the leftovers I had for lunch the following day confirmed my suspicions that it was superb.
The rather more conventional Chicken Tikka (the chef’s signature) also strayed away from the sauce-heavy and vividly coloured dish one expects. Similarly charred to that chicken starter and with a touch more heat than the shrimp dish, I’d happily order this on a return visit… though quite possibly get diverted by something else intriguing!
Masala Craft is a great addition to York centre’s dining offering: unusual without being pretentious or unnecessarily challenging, while the service is informative without patronising. When it rolls round again, the snooker community attending the UK championship will have another venue to evangelise about.