MEAL REVIEW: Mumbai Flavours, Narrowgate, Alnwick

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It’s not every day you find someone who has never tried Indian food before. Well, that person is me.

Anyone who knows me will know I just don’t do foods that are exotic or hot. I only had my first cheeky Nando’s in November. Don’t worry, I didn’t know what it meant either.

I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with not venturing away from the village pub or local fish-and-chip shop, but it certainly helps to be a bit more adventurous when dining out.

My venture to Alnwick’s newest Indian eatery came about when a friend was making a quick trip to the town as he now lives amid the bright lights of London.

A group of six friends returned to reminisce on our school days and have a check on how our lives are panning out now.

It was a balmy Saturday night, and despite the restaurant’s best efforts to cool the building, it was so hot outside that inside was like an oven.

Having pre-booked a table a few days in advance, which is recommended as it gets full quite fast, we were shown to our seats upstairs.

As we started catching up on times gone by, it was very clear we needed something to quench our thirst.

Our drink orders were taken, and as we continued our nostalgic trip down memory lane, they failed to appear.

We asked the waitress, who told us they were on the way, but by that time, we were ready to order food. However, she told us she’d have to get someone else to take our food order. I wasn’t entirely sure why.

As the waitress went on her way, we noticed that another large group of men had arrived on some form of social outing. I could be inclined to say they were on a stag do, but I don’t think many people venture to Alnwick for that type of affair, though I could be totally wrong.

Now realising we weren’t the only large group, we were concerned that we wouldn’t be served any time soon.

About 10 to 15 minutes after asking to put in our food order, someone came to take it.

We all decided to have a starter and main course.

I didn’t let on that I hadn’t eaten Indian food before so I just made sure I was the last to order, giving me plenty of time to see what other people were having and copy their choices.

But, to be completely honest, the menu was very clearly written out and also had a sub-heading underneath each dish to tell you if it was a mild, medium or hot dish. This was very helpful.

To start, I went safe with onion bhajis (£2.95). The description said they were shredded onion, prepared in a spiced flour and deep-fried. The first thing that came to my mind was ‘oh, it’s an onion ring’.

When the dish arrived, there were two bhajis that looked like they’d been hand-folded into a ball. It was rather crispy, but that was obviously the whole point of the dish.

It was complemented with a series of sauces, which gave the dish some great flavouring.

The clue is in the name of the business.

As our starters were taken away, we continued explaining what we’d done with our lives in the years after we’d we parted and went to university etc.

We also attempted to order some more drinks, but it proved a bit of a hassle because of the lack of staff upstairs.

Eventually, our food arrived, and I was excited to dig into the main event.

I played it safe and went for the chicken masala (a mild choice for £7.50).

Others went for a mumbai prawn masala (£7.95), chicken korma (£6.50) and a chicken biryani with omelette (£7.50), all of which, I thought, were reasonably priced.

But then again, I’m not an Indian cuisine specialist so I wouldn’t be able to say whether it’s expensive or not.

What I do know, however, is that the food was an absolute delight. It was certainly full of flavour, and again came with a great selection of sauces.

What I also know is that the food I had was so great I feel like I can say I’m a total Indian food convert now, and writing this is making me want to go for another Indian meal and explore the cuisine even further.

I could probably spend a day just trying all the different starters, then another day trying all the main courses.

My guess is that this business, which has only been open for a matter of weeks, will grow into a great establishment, and once it grows, it will be able to hire more staff and will be as successful as other restaurants serving different cuisines in Alnwick.

MEALS CURRY FLAVOUR WITH OLD HANDS AND NOVICES ALIKE

There really is a true feeling of Indian food. It was great for a beginner like me, but it also had a great selection of classic and some contemporary dishes. The idea of bringing modern Indian cuisine and street food is a great concept and I hope it will stick in this rural community. The business prides itself on having a great combination of knowledgeable chefs, warm hospitality and even the chance for a take-away, so you can enjoy its fare in your own home.

STARTERS

Onion bhaji...£2.95

Samosa...£3.45

Chicken pakura...£3.45

Sheek kebab...£3.45

Clay oven dishes

Mixed grill...£8.95

Chicken shaslik...£8.50

Mumbai special grill...£8.95

CHEF’S RECOMMENDATIONS

Either chicken £7.50, lamb £7.50, chicken tikka £8.50.

Masala...mild

Badami...mild

Makhani...mild

Modupuri...medium sweet

Shahjahan...medium

Pondhina zal...medium

Mirchi masala...hot

Tok jal mishtii...hot

STAR RATING (OUT OF TEN)

Quality of food...8

Presentation...7

Choice...9

Vegetarian choice...3

Value for money...9

Atmosphere...5

Use of local food...N/A

Service...5

Access for disabled...limited

Toilet for disabled ...N/A

Overall rating...9

Verdict: A real cultural treat, offering creative dishes in a very pleasant area. It is perfect for beginners and serious curry junkies alike.

Call 01665 606336 or visit their website.

The previous Northumberland Gazette Eating Out column reviewed The Old Post Office Bistro, Warkworth, and if you missed it, here is a link to the Gazette’s top tips of 2014.