How do you feel when visiting your home-town? I always feel a swell of affection for Bolton, which is where I was born and raised (gosh I sound like a Warburtons advert). And I am always pleased whenever I discover another reason to visit home. Now, I had heard plenty of positive things about The Royal Balti House, Farnworth, Bolton.
One of these exciting tidbits was that The Royal Balti House’s inventive curry is loved by Ainsley Harriot and Luis Troyano, two of my favourite chefs. Intrigued by the press coverage and word of mouth it was getting, I just had to hop along to see what the fuss was about. Would the Bolti blow my mind, or would it be much ado about nothing?
My dining partner for the evening was my mother. She is the best cook on the planet, and no one cooks curries like her. Who better to accompany me, than the sternest critic I know? And so it was, that we rocked up at The Royal Balti House Bolton one evening.
It looked like a regular restaurant, with cosy lighting and larger booths towards the back. We ordered a few drinks whilst perusing the diverse menu, lilting Bollywood tunes playing in the background and setting the scene nicely for an evening of culinary delight.
Our Front of House, the lovely Anam ensured we were comfortable and recommended dishes off the menu. There is a fine balance between making your presence known to provide unobtrusive service, and being over-eager. Anam is one of the most courteous, welcoming Front of House staff I have ever had the pleasure to meet. I watched him and the rest of the staff in open fascination, as they made every customer, at every single table, feel the warm welcome as if a host is welcoming guests into their home.
And that is what The Royal Balti House feels like – home. There is real love, soul and passion for good food in the building, which is why I automatically felt at ease in the restaurant.
We kicked off with some poppadoms including a tray of pickles and sauces. Mango chutney was tart, red onion relish spicy and the special green chutney in all its garlicky glory was simply divine.
For main, I had Chicken Tikka Biryani. The rice was cooked to perfection, fluffy and separate grains a joy to swish my fork through. The chicken was tender, beautifully chargrilled, and with the spicy Jalfrezi sauce, made this a memorable dish at our table. It happens to be one of the best biryani dishes I have ever tasted, and which has subsequently leapfrogged onto my list of Top 10 dishes of all time.
Mother had Pangash Bhaja, which is fish with a meaty flesh. Presentation of this dish made us feel as if we were dining at a royal banquet, because it was big, bold and beautifully burnished. The pangash fillet was boneless (good call chefs), and being cooked in a medium spicy tandoori sauce, meant the flesh had taken on the warming spices very well. I love how we were given a heads up by General Manager Keith at the time of ordering, informing us that as the fish was to be cooked from scratch, the wait time for this would be around 20 minutes. This is a great fish dish for those not wanting too much carbs, as it goes well with the salad and ordering additional rice or chappatis is totally your preference.
We had to try the Chicken Bolti dish, which was a medium spicy dish with a discernible tang (that’ll be the addition of achar). The Bolti is a special addition to the menu; Ainsley Harriott loved it and it is easy to see why.
The Bolti dish comes pre-mixed with pickle, leaving you to just crack on and tuck into your curry without onerous pickle choosing (if you’re a master procrastinator like me the Bolti dish is a godsend).
We shared a dessert of salted caramel ice-cream which was a delight. I especially liked the caramel sauce rippled through the luxurious ice-cream, and gloriously gooey ganache resting atop was the crowning glory.
There are so many high points of dining at The Royal Balti House. The warm welcoming atmosphere, the infectious smiles and kind eyes of Anam, the calming, informative yet fun demeanour of Keith, and the sublime food in wonderfully generous portions. I’m a sucker for good curry, and I am so very pleased that I have discovered The Royal Balti House in Bolton. My mother too said she loved the Bolti curry (I think she may have the restaurant on speed-dial for when she feels a day off coming on).
The eatery also boasts an impressive take-away operation, with their website detailing a comprehensive list of allergens for those who have dietary requirements.
For food that you’ll be thinking about weeks after you’ve dined there (I think I’ve just made myself hungry thinking about that stunning biryani), I urge you to visit The Royal Balti House. And try the sublime Bolti – this will be one of the things that puts Bolton on the map, trust me. Anam, Keith et al, see you again very soon.
Rating: (1: Hate: I’d rather eat my shoe – 10: Love: I’d sell my kidney for a meal here)
Value for money: 10
Restaurant name: The Royal Balti House
Address: 78 Market St, Farnworth, Bolton BL4 7NY
Opening times: Mon-Thurs 4pm-10:30pm / Fri-Sat 4pm-12am / Sun 3:45pm-10:30pm
How to make reservation: Telephone & email
Call: 01204 573515 / 01204 570945
General Manager: Keith Meah
Front of House: Anam