Picture the scene: Charlotte, Colin, Soyful and I are driving up to the Merry Maid, up through Five Ways, up the Belgrave Middleway, then up the back of Dunelm. We parked opposite the restaurant, which is situated between Priestley Road and Athole Street. During the short five minute journey, both Soyful and Colin are making various and escalating pre-emptive apologies about what we are about to experience. Their apologies are in the aesthetic vein. The food, we were assured, would be top quality. The locale, building, clientele, atmosphere and even the way into the restaurant proper were to be forgiven. So far so good.

We entered via the main entrance, past a gaggle of revellers, via an airless corridor with no windows, but two bathrooms. Between the two bathrooms there was a sign stating that management had the right to search anyone on the premises at random. Presumably not for stolen poppadoms. But then, at last, Xanadu. When we least expected it, we found a room filled with what sounded like about 100 people, but was perhaps about 60, all eating the most divine looking curries, naans, pakoras, grilled meat and poppadoms. The smell was admittedly beautiful. We were directed to our table at the very back of the back room. There were a number of gentlemen playing pool directly behind us with their phones perilously close to a monstrous speaker. It was only a matter of time.

We sat down, and ordered the mixed grill, chicken biryani curry, poppadoms, a chili paneer and a cheese naan. It all arrived within about ten minutes. The below photograph does not capture the full magnificence of the meal. The lighting was quite poor.

The food arrived steaming and smelling very inviting. The large grill comprised grilled chicken wings, kebab meat, drumsticks and lamb chops. Every little morsel was suffused with flavour. The curry itself was fresh, hearty and well balanced. There were large and numerous chunks of chicken, which is always welcome. The popadoms were paper thin and crunchy. They went very well with both the mint and yoghurt sauce (thought this was served in a squeeze tube, disturbingly). The paneer was also excellent, smoky, chewy and a generous portion, even though it was a starter. We feasted all the way through and barely left anything. Every tenth bite, one of the more muscled pool players directly behind us would crack the pool cue against the ball with such force that the entire ground would shake. Car alarms could be heard in the distance. This was swiftly covered up by the second more muscled pool player switching on the monstrous speaker aforementioned and releasing into the restaurant such torrents of dreadful rap music that both of my ears fully fell off.

Colin, ever the pragmatist, brought his own Tupperware and packed the rest in. We left, filled to the brim, with a renewed and more pronounced tinnitus, but ultimately very pleased. Please do go, it is worth it!