A Visit To Sheba Brick Lane – Cobra’s Best UK Curry House 2013

Run the gauntlet of the restaurant touts, the bars and trinket shops along Brick Lane and just before you reach the Old Truman Brewery you’ll find Sheba, named as the ‘Best UK Curry House’ in Cobra’s 2013 curry guide.

Pat Chapman, the long-standing editor of the guide (which carries reviews of most of the UK’s 9,000 Indian restaurants in it’s pages) said:

It is a fantastic achievement and thoroughly deserved, amazing dishes such as the Lamb Shank, Shofri Gost Salman Tikka and plethora of delicious fish dishes make Sheba a unique curry house.

Clearly Pat is no connoisseur of interior design because Sheba is a fairly pedestrian example of its type – you’ll find many similar restaurants along this busy East London street. However, what does stand out at Sheba is the quality and the variety of the food – while you’ll find all of the regular staples including bhunas, jalfrezis and vindaloos they serve special dishes in abundance, many of which come straight from the streets of India.

Take, for example, their mutton biriyani, which at Sheba they prepare in much the same way that paella is made – rather than combining the rice and meat just before the dish is served, the chicken and rice are slow-cooked together with a surprising combination of fresh herbs – it’s a spectacular dish and a million miles from what you’ll have become used to at a regular Indian restaurant. The ‘raan’ they serve is also a real find (although what it is on the menu I can’t tell you!) – a whole shank of lamb crusted in minced meat and peas and served with whole boiled eggs, the meat immediately flakes off the bone when you take your knife and fork to it – wonderfully tender.

Sheba also have an unusually extensive fish and seafood menu too – we had the opportunity to try the succulent Garlic Jhinga Chilli Masala (absolutely huge king prawns that are grilled and dusted with spices) but you can also go for telapia, boal, roopchanda, lobster and more.

Given the confusing number of restaurant choices on Brick Lane it’s good to find somewhere that stands out from the crowd, and the quality of the dishes at Sheba definitely sets them apart from many of their neighbours. Highly recommended.

Although curries have been a staple part of my diet for some thirty years I am by no means an expert, however when I visited Sheba earlier in the week I met some people who really do fit that bill. If you want the low-down on Indian cuisine I would suggest following @TheCurryGuy and Zoe Perrett, @TheSpiceScribe, on Twitter, and if you’re serious about eating at only the best restaurants you can also pick up Pat Chapman’s curry bible on his website here – there’s no tablet version as yet but the need for one did come up in conversation earlier this week, so you never know! Pat also offers curry demonstrations and cookery courses, and takes groups of curry aficionados on guided tours of India every year…