Here is a review of the Mivesi restaurant, Alnwick, first published in the Northumberland Gazette on January 17, 2013.
If there’s one thing that’s has become more of a tradition over the years, certainly in my lifetime, it’s the Saturday night Indian, whether that be takeaway or in a restaurant.
And for those also partial to a curry at the weekend, or indeed any other time, Alnwick now has a third restaurant offering our favourite food from the sub-continent. Joining Dalchini, which my colleague reviewed just last week, and Varanda, which opened in 2011, is Mivesi, taking over the former Louis Steakhouse premises and owned by the people behind the Barresdale Triple Diner. Some may ask whether a town the size of Alnwick needs three sit-in Indian restaurants, but that is not for me to judge in this column; if the food, service and atmosphere are good then people will want to eat there.
And talking of the atmosphere, it was bubbling away nicely when we arrived at Mivesi on Saturday night. For a cold January evening, there was a good number of people in the upstairs restaurant, which was nearly full to begin with. It started to empty later on, but for most of the night, it was nice and lively.
The downstairs was empty, although the tables were laid, so available for any diners who turned up on the night. In terms of the look and layout of the place, anyone familiar with Louis will not find anything very different at present. Whether there are plans for redecoration, I don’t know, but I always found Louis to be a comfortable and cosy restaurant, so if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
Another link to the restaurant’s past life is some of the staff, which provides further continuity, and the staff were welcoming and attentive on the night, ensuring that everything was ok with our food at regular intervals. But from there onwards, it’s all change, with the first difference being that Mivesi doesn’t serve alcohol. However, guest are welcome to bring their own and there is no corkage charge. When I rang to book a table, this wasn’t mentioned, so we only found out when we arrived, meaning we had to take a brief detour to pick up some drinks. It’s worth flagging this up as it really does affect the price of a night out, as restaurant-priced beer and wine can add a substantial sum to your final bill. A selection of soft drinks is available though.
Of course, the menu offers the biggest change and it gives a very wide choice to diners, with a good selection of starters, both meat and fish-based and vegetarian, two pages-worth of specials as well as all the usual curries and sundries.
We started with poppadoms and the assorted side dishes, which, in this case, consisted of mango chutney, onion salad, mint dip and a mixed pickle. The chutney was sweet, the onions, one of my favourites, were full of flavour and the mint dip really tasted of fresh mint, as opposed to the relatively bland offerings that you sometimes get. The only letdown was the pickle, which was very overpowered by a bitterness that wasn’t very pleasant. But thereafter, the food was very good.
To begin, we had meat samosas (£3.50 for two), which were well-spiced but not too hot, and chingrimirchi (£5.50)– a stuffed pepper containing lightly-spiced prawns. Unfortunately, the kitchen had no peppers left, so I had my prawns wrapped in puri bread, which I have to say was very good. Looking back, I would probably have chosen the puri over the pepper anyway.
On to the main event and we both elected to select something from the extensive selection of specials. On the other side of the table was tandoori lamb chops (£8.95), which were cooked in an authentic clay oven before being stir-fried with onions. The chops were quite fatty, but there were plenty of them and plenary of meat to be had. I went for the sylheti chicken (£8.95), which consisted of a chicken breast stuffed with mincemeat in a medium-strength sauce. Along with a portion of pilau rice and a plain basic naan, they were both very nice dishes and by the end, we had both certainly eaten our fill.
The offer of desserts was a step too far, as there was no way I could eat another thing. We both enjoyed our evening and the food was very good. Of particular note was the presentation, which sets Mivesi apart from other Indian restaurants where the food all comes in round bowls.
LIGHT ON THE WALLET BUT NOT ON QUALITY
The food was very good and I had immensely enjoyed the evening, but I liked it even more when it came to paying the bill. You forget the difference that alcohol can make to a bill and in these financially-tight times, the option to bring your own bottle looks like a good one for those who want to enjoy good food but don’t want to spend a fortune. We opted for poppadoms, starters and main course with shared rice and naan, which was more than enough. A main dish and poppadoms would result in an even cheaper night out.
SELECTION FROM THE MENU
Kakra (crab meat)......£5.95
Sheesh roll kebab......£4.95
Chicken/ lamb tikka paneer......£4.50
Vegetable pakora (v)......£3.40
Mulligatawny soup (v)......£2.95
Jhal Jhul Maach (Monkfish)......£8.95
Tandoori king prawn......£12.50
Old School Dishes
A selection of 15 traditional curry sauces are available. The prices range from £6.95 to £9.95 depending on the meat.
STAR RATINGS (out of 10)
Quality of food......8
Use of local food......0 (no details on menu)
Value for money......8
Access for disabled......4
Toilet for disabled......No
Verdict: A wide selection of well-presented, tasty Indian dishes
Contact: 01665 606947; website http://mivesi.co.uk/