Aziz is among the best curry houses in Oxford. I may not qualify for connoisseur status, but quality here has always been high and the prices are competitive for a sit-down meal. Tonight's menu certainly didn't disappoint.
The restaurant boasts "Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine" as one of its distinctives, so seeing the breadth of the menu was heartening. It certainly offers the standard curry options (which pack the taste in), but lots more off the beaten track. A mini-essay at the start of their menu says how seriously the culinary arts have historically been taken in Bengali culture, which intrigued me and made me feel bad for not loving fish more!
An early intra-staff miscommunication led to a minor delay in us being seated, and we were treated to a complimentary starter. This was probably chott pottie, crisp-shelled morsels of chickpea with a tamarind tang, whose piquancy got my flavour-receptors popping. The meat in my Tandoori Hush main course was really deliciously tender - I am a fan of duck, and this delivered on its invitingly audible 'sizzle'. My dining partner was pleased with the Handi Gosht, traditionally fried mutton with a winning texture. The side dish of baigun bhaji was wonderful, boasting about the most flavour pan-fried aubergine could bear. We weren't planning to have dessert, so misti naan and mango juice provided plenty of sweetness.
So at Aziz, you can very easily have a table of diverse flavours and sidestep intense spice levels for reasonable value. Indeed, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and we had to take some home. The décor itself I've always liked, the music was super-chilled, but our service was unfortunately not great. The waiters were very obliging and gentle, but this was quite a quiet night and perhaps new staff were being trialled. This would have been vexing on a busier occasion when the attention is harder to get but all in all, this was nowhere near enough to deter me from returning.