Royal Spice - Darton, Barnsley

Station Road, Darton, Barnsley, S75 5H
Telephone: 01226 391 801 709  
Opening Times:
Sun: 2:00pm - 10:00pm
Mon to Sat: 5:30pm - 11:00pm

"Buffet's - The John Doe Of Indian Restaurants?
Date of Visit: Sunday 26th July - 3pm 

Buffet - £6.95 (eat as much as you like)

Spicy Chicken Wings
Vegetable Pakoras
Meat Samosas
Chicken Korma
Chicken Masala
Chicken Bhuna
Lamb Bhuna
Bombay Mattar Aloo
Plain Naan

The Royal Spice restaurant is homed in what used to be the Darton Social Club or Working Mens Club. It's a big old building and lends itself well to its current usage.

The guys travel in from Bradford each day and have been doing so for the last 13 years. The restaurant has a good feel to it and the staff are very friendly and chatty. Whilst we were dining, there were approximately 30 other diners partaking; many of whom have been eating at the venue for years.

The Talbot Inn at Mapplewell (Barnsley) was our second watering hole of the afternoon and proved to be a great find. The pub has operated in the village since 1776 and was packed to the rafters when we visited. They have a number of real ales on, including four from the Two Roses Brewery from just up the road in Darton.

The food in the Talbot Inn looked excellent and we promised ourselves that we would return at some point in the future to indulge. Visit their website here: The Talbot Inn

So, back to Royal Spice… what were we expecting from an as much as you can eat buffet for a mere £6.95?

Well the Vegetable Pakoras (3/5), weren't too bad but perhaps were more doughy in content than vegetables. The Meat Samosas (4/5) were small and rather surprisingly had a bit of zing about them. The Spicy Chicken Wings (3/5), weren't. They were rather small and had little chicken on them.

Neither I or The Greyhound sampled the Chicken Korma so we are unable to comment on that particular dish. The Greyhound said that the Chicken Masala (3/5) and the Chicken Bhuna (3/5) dishes were ok but weren't spicy. I went for the Bombay Mattar Aloo (4/5) and the Lamb Bhuna (4/5) and concluded that both were reasonably good dishes. 
After I had commented upon my dishes, The Greyhound decided to try them out for himself and after returning from the serving area with a small portion of each dish,  he said that the Lamb Bhuna was the best of the three that he had tried and that the Bombay Mattar Aloo was also good.

There was ample salad and mint yoghurt sauce to have with the starters.

The flat Plain Naan I rather liked… they were like a hybrid of a naan and a chapati.

The food on offer at a buffet is always going to be very middle of the road and one from the "old favourites" or cheaper section of the regular menu. This was the case here at Royal Spice. The Korma, Masala and Bhuna are tried and trusted favourites of the nation over the years. Nothing too spicy, nothing too rich, something that nearly everyone will like. 

And that is why I made the John Doe comment in the headline… you are never going to be able to get to know the true identity of a restaurant through a buffet, as the dishes are the plain and simple ones. Chef can more easily demonstrate his culinary skills when the dish is more exotic,  intricate and once the "blandcuffs" (bland handcuffs) are removed. Buffet nights maybe easier for Chef but I bet he gets frustrated that he can't express himself in the way that he can with the regular menu.

I think a re-visit of Royal Spice is required - one where we dine from the regular menu in order to compose a clearer identikit of this establishment.

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