Tipu Sultan – Nottingham

Its been a while.

Last year I wrote of a couple of gems to emerge, despite Covid. Quality over quantity. I would still urge you to check out Mesa and Everyday People if you have yet to sample their wares. It has been a even longer wait for those who have followed the progress of Tipu Sultan. Their site sits proudly at the start of Sherwood high-street, the building imposing as you journey down Mansfield Road. Over three years ago this location was last in action as Fat Cat and since then some serious money has been spent doing it up. At first glace its impressive with stylised booth seating, flashes of gold and dazzling lighting. It appears to be a successful formula that comes as the third restaurant in this small group with Birmingham and Leicester having been around for a few years.

Entrance/Bar at Tipu Sultan

We had given them a call earlier in the day to book at a table at 1930 but were assured “just come along and you’ll get in no problem”. What transpired was 15 mins mostly standing in a cold doorway. I’d rather they were honest, benefit of the doubt for now though. We were seated at a booth and perused the (very colourful) menu. Anyone who had heard anything about Tipu Sultan should know there is no alcohol, lassi’s all round. The food options were familiar to those who have eaten at “authentic” Indian restaurants and I like the fact they did eschew some of the more common staples of Korma, Madras etc. I went for a lighter starter of chaat followed by my favourite curry of achari chicken which I’d been pleased to see make an appearance.

Papri Chaat at Tipu Sultan

My papri chaat (a very reasonable £4.95) arrived stylishly presented. You can’t go too wrong with a chaat, it was crisp with tart flavour from the tamarind, body from the chickpeas and additional pops of flavour from the pomegranate. The yoghurt was quite thin and would have been improved by a higher quality as well as some more flavour from the chickpeas which were quite plain. Not as good as a Rickshaw’s version from further up Mansfield road. Being an achari lover (note: not claiming to be an expert) I was struck by a couple of immediate disappointments as it hit the table. An achari uses pickles and pickling spices/vinegars to give flavour to the sauce of the dish. On appearance this incarnation was quite dry and also particularly oily. The chicken was also on the bone, not something that bothers me but I think for many diners they would want it to be mentioned on the menu. Back to my fears which were sadly founded, although there were pockets of pickled peppers the underlying flavour wasn’t there. The chicken itself was quite dry too and there really was a lot of bone to pick through. At £10.95 it was £3 more than a much better version at Desi in Hockley albeit still cheaper than mains in most of the city’s best and Masala Junction in Carrington. I will say friends had an overall better experience and the best dish was karahi gohst with tender lamb and real depth of flavour from its sauce, though nothing impressed us too much.

Achari Chicken at Tipu Sultan

Disappointing food aside our experience was blighted by a number of other small things. Forgivable in isolation but adding up to being too much to overlook. One member of staff delivered our dishes only for another to ask me how the food was before I had even taken a bite. One of our party of 3 had to wait much longer for their main course to arrive, a waiter came to ask how it was and seemed surprised when we pointed out one meal hadn’t arrived. The table was set with one knife and fork, they were taken with the starters as I would expect but we had to ask (and wait) for new sets when the main arrived. The waiting team also seemed oblivious to customers trying to get their attention as we had to get up to flag someone down to pay the bill. A lady at a nearby table vocally complaining that one of the team had looked right at her but ignored her didn’t help matters. With such competition for this type of food these can be indelible marks on ones memory and I can’t imagine a scenario soon where I would choose Tipu Sultan over at least half a dozen more enjoyable experiences in Nottingham.