Paddy’s Marten Dhaba

September 27, 2011

A few months back I wrote an enthusiastic review of Paddy’s for Great Food magazine, but somehow I don’t seem to have written the place up here. After another first rate meal there this weekend I better put that right.

You’d be unlikely to ever just come across Paddy’s, it being located up a fairly lonely sidestreet off Catherine Street. So it’s a good mile out of the city centre in what is, with due respect to locals, not exactly a fashionable part of town. Out of the way maybe, but it is massively popular. I was first shown there by an Asian friend who wanted to show me an alternative to what he saw as the over-priced, westernised tandoori places that tend to predominate even in a city such as Leicester. “You’ll see all these smart cars lined up outside,” he said. “Successful Asian businesspeople like to come here for good value home-style food”.

It’s not a flash place, but a perfectly serviceable old pub that now buzzes with happy people. It has a truly diverse clientele – couples, family groups, groups of young people, old people of every stripe.  On most nights it’s busy, on a Friday it does an extraordinary trade but seems to run with clockwork efficiency,  friendly management setting the tone for well-trained staff.  There’s a very wide menu, lots of vegetarian options in a home cooked style (gunga peas with fenugreek leave, butter bean curry, rajastani paneer) and dishes can be served mild, medium or hot. There’s no false emphasis on authenticity, just a recognition that people like traditional food and in their own way.

And it is great food. I started with kathiawadi masala fish  – and it was probably the best dish I’ve had anywhere this year. Fillets of excellent white fish (tilapia I think) covered in a wondeful, vibrant green masala paste – for the first time I genuinely understood why the term masala gets used figurativly to mean a lively, exciting mixture. My main course was chicken machoosi – on-the-bone meat cooked in a style which, it is promised, will take you back to East Africa. Can’t comment on that really but it was extremely tasty.  Friends had variations of “sizzling combos” – mountains of highly-flavoured minced lamb kebabs and a variety of chicken pieces with highly addictive caramelised onions. A fish and prawn mixed curry impressed too. A warning though – the portions are generous and mains are served with rice and naan so, while they’ll pack up leftovers for you, best to order conservatively.

Paddy’s is the kind of place that makes Leicester great. Next month it will feature in an episode of a new Channel 4 series Jamie’s Great Britain, so the rest of the nation may to get to know of it too. There’s no website, but if you want to visit it’s at 98 Martin St, Leicester LE4 6EU. Booking advised on 0116 266 5123.

[Edit 4/11/11 – Paddy’s now does have a website – visit]

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