Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Mumtaz - An Appreciation Blog

Mumtaz is the restaurant my husband and myself consider as ours. Like you know you have your song and your spot - they mean something to you for a special reason and are always in your heart. You'll always choose them over pretty much anything.

Before I moved to Leeds my husband told me about Mumtaz. He told me every little detail from the canal-side location and how breath-taking it is at night to the stunning chandeliers and mats they keep in the bathrooms that they change accordingly with the days of the week. He even told me about the gentleman who plays piano for the entire restaurant.

It was safe to say I was in love with Mumtaz before I even stepped foot in it.

As you know from previous blogs I am from a Restauranteur background, my Dhada was one, my parents, relatives and most of their friends are too. I've grown up in the food industry. From bus boys and head chefs to the Maitre'd and the untrained waiter I have seen them all. At the age of 13 I was able to predict if a new member of staff would be able to cut it or not. My Maa spent hours with me planning menus, typing up drafts for the printers and taught me what good food was. My earliest memories are of restaurants. The buzz when it's busy - waiters flying around, the sizzling sounds, the flashes of fire in the kitchen, the clinking from the bar and the incessant, indistinguishable chatter of customers... It's all a comfort to me, like home. I miss it sometimes but hey, I'm a home girl. With Asian establishments I tend to be very critical and terribly obtuse but with Mumtaz I literally cannot do anything but be happy. Mumtaz makes me feel like I did when I was three-years-old in my Dhadas place, it makes me feel small (in a good way), awed, safe and at home. I love it and I genuinely mean that. I love Mumtaz. 

Now to explain why I love Mumtaz as a place... If this was your first encounter with it, you would too... 

The first time I stepped inside Mumtaz was the day after my wedding day. Me and the hubby had driven for hours from Faringdon near Exeter to Leeds and I needed to get changed into my wedding dress (I didn't want to walk into my new home in my normal clothes), so we grabbed my stuff and walked into Mumtaz and asked if I could quickly use the bathroom, they obliged and I walked into the bathroom, got changed and freshened up. I took a long hard look at myself. Nineteen, bright orange wedding mehndi patterned my arms and palms, in a wedding dress- I looked like a happy bride. It made me smile. I remembered the day before my makeup artist saying how I was such a calm bride, I felt calm. That glow they say you get, I know I had it. (Quick shout out to Rheanne and Freya! You two were such stars!)

It hadn't occurred to me I would have to walk out of the bathroom where no one could see me until I was actually doing it, nearly every single set of eyes was on me... I hate attention, my husband says I'm socially retarded and tbh I kinda am but... I'll admit it... I felt like a princess. It must have been how Cinderella felt when she walked into the Ball. But unlike Cinderella my husband was waiting for me, he had already done all that crap that Prince Charming had to. 

He was staring at me too. The exact same look he had when he got to see me after I was all done up on our wedding day the day before, the exact same look.

We said our thank you, walked out and went home. 

Like a fairytale right? Lol. Tell me you wouldn't love it? If you can say it and mean it I will give you a shout out on here. 

Me and my husband go to Mumtaz so often that the Maitre'd knows us and when we haven't been for a while he gets worried. Me and my husband plan how our kids are going to know all the staff and run around like all the other kids do. The staff at Mumtaz are so lovely. Like literally I have never met staff that are so nice, (apart from at my Maa's but they are family and have to love me) they are a credit to the whole Mumtaz name. They are attentive, caring and dutiful. They are well mannered and beautifully presented. They are full of suggestions and chatty in a friendly manner. Me and my husband spend at least three hours at one single restaurant (we feel we do it properly, you aren't just going to eat - it is and always should be an experience. If by the end of a meal out you don't feel ready for bed you aren't doing it right) but never have we felt rushed, not even when they are ultra busy and have no tables. We have stayed well past closing time and been the only table there but they have never made us feel like we need to get going. 

Not once in over a year that we have been going to Mumtaz on a regular basis have we ever made a reservation but we always get a table next to the window overlooking the canal. Idk there is something about Clarence Dock at night that could (and has) bring me to tears. One of my favourite things to do in Leeds is grab a coffee and sit on the massive steps in Clarence Dock listening to the church bells (I love church bells so freaking much, idk why don't ask me). I remember last New Years we spent it at Clarence Dock- the water reflecting the fireworks, parties from every other flat, kids and adults milling around and just this awesome vibe. It was a good New Years.

As soon as you walk in you are hit by the grandeur of it all. Huge black chandeliers, marble floors, sweeping curtains, tassels the size of my upper body, the giant abstract musical instruments and these shapely, ornate furniture. The decor, I'm told, cost over two million pounds to achieve which really isn't surprising. The bathrooms are always clean and match the rest of the restaurant decor wise. It's eponymous sister in Bradford (I haven't been yet but my husband has) is apparently stunning as well but is more focused on food.

OMG the food. They have such an imaginative menu and are happy to alter anything on the menu for you, my husband is allergic to egg and we have never had any problems with the food or it's ingredients. Between us (and all the times we have gone) I'm pretty sure we have tried just about everything on the menu and depending on the chef that is preparing the food it ranges from amazing to perfect (this is a blog about how amazing Mumtaz is and how I think everyone should know how amazing it is so it probably is a liiiiiitle biased but meh), I am terribly picky about my sea food, particularly king prawns but they get it so right. My husband hasn't ever had a complaint (or if he had I have beeped it out!), their meat is always done just right, their chicken is never dry. Their flavours are complex but always well matched and blended. There isn't a bland thing on the menu. And if you are a chilli psycho or chilli-aphobic they cater to that too, asking you when you order how spicy or mild you would like your food and they really stick to it. My husband is a bit of a heat fanatic and always asks for everything to be hot but he always says it's not just heat there are still really palatable flavours that accentuate the meat and over all dish. I am a little more flavour orientated and not too found of heat so I tend to alternate between mild and medium and again I have no complaints. It's all very homely somehow- such elaborate dishes still manage to fill you up and taste like they should. 

I am a total pain when it comes to eating but I am so good when I'm there, I will eat a full meal and not complain once.

They are an alcohol free zone as far as I know, but they have an extensive soft drinks list including fizzy drinks, sparkling grape juices and fruit juices, they also have a number of very delicious mocktails - I rarely order any other drinks when I eat out, they last a whole meal and if picked correctly complement the meal too. You'll always find something to go with your meal. They even have their own drinks line which does include some lassi. I myself don't really like lassi but that's me. 

They have a wonderful desserts menu that covers all angles. Numerous light Kulfis, decadent ice creams, cakes and Asian sweets are all on display and make you turn into a little kid- I recommend the banana and chocolate/vanilla ice cream, the rasmalai and... All of the cakes.  I've tried nearly all of them and OMG they are all so good. I always have room in my little belly for dessert even if it means just chilling and talking for half an hour until I have room! They are exceptionally presented, with little wafer twists, fans and such. They also have a list of coffees - if I can persuade the hubby I love a double shot of espresso after a meal. 

The two Mumtaz are run by two brothers as far as I know, I see the brother in the Leeds branch every time I go, as you may know from previous blogs I lost my Dhada last year nearly year ago now and everyday I miss him, I don't think he knew how much he really meant to me but when I'm in Mumtaz and I see the owner milling around in the kitchen and at the front of house I miss my Dhada a little less. My heart breathes for a second. 

I don't know what the brothers set as their goals when they started up the business' - I'm sure it was similar to others like provide for their family, see their dream come to life, you know the usual but I'm pretty sure they didn't ever think they would help a young girl with the grief of losing her grandfather - the only man before her husband that never let her down or make her feel at home in a place she has never even set foot it like a new bride coming home or help a young couple fall in love even more with every time they visit. 

I'm sure they have sisters, daughters and nieces and a little bit of me is jealous of all of them as they are very lucky because if that's how the restaurant makes me feel I can't even begin to imagine what their home must feel like. 

I'd like to say thank you to the whole Mumtaz family- for making me feel like a little kid, for helping me a little with my confidence, for helping me adjust to the loss of my Dhada, for making me feel safe, for helping my husband get me to eat without complaint, for helping me relax my husband and too many other things to list.

Thank you for being such a massive part of my adjusting to Leeds, being married and growing as a person.

As always, lots of love 


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