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Archive for the ‘Indian restaurant’ Category

I’ve no idea what a Pilgrim’s annual mileage was, but as I battled with Canterbury’s early evening traffic my empathy for them was the only thing flowing around the ring road. Fortunately the Promised Land awaiting me in North Lane drove me onwards. I had one goal: curry. More precisely, the curries, nectars and assorted paraphernalia created by the Ancient Raj chefs. I use the term ‘chefs’ loosely, as ‘gods’ could easily replace it. We’d been lucky enough to eat here a fortnight earlier at the behest of two lovely friends. On that glorious evening the Cobras bit hard, and as such I wondered the next day whether I’d imagined the whole thing. Could it have been that good? Every dish on the money. Excellent service. Great value. There was only one way to find out – I rebooked. As we all know only too well, things are never as good as the first time, so, as we crossed their low-beamed threshold, I prayed that a little cumin-covered miracle might come our way. It did, in the quite unexpected form of a pianist. Now if I was picking an accompaniment to curry there’s a fair chance it would be cold and alcoholic not warm and melodic, but, rather surprisingly, the music hit the spot too, adding another layer to our remarkable experience in the process. We chomped our way, 4:4 time, through flawless papadams that lay happily beneath the customary trinity of chutneys, but which jostled to be smothered in the seldom-seen coconut one (a rose-tinted favourite I discovered 25 years ago in a South Norwood curry house). We quickly dismantled an entire pot of this ruddy ambrosia before running headlong into the mains.  I basked in the Duck Xacuti (breast of Barbary duck in a harmonious massala sauce flavoured with star anise, fenugreek, chilli and coconut), which was one of the loveliest things I’ve tasted in ages. My recently vegetarianized wife (I know) picked out the vegetable biryani and was very glad she did so. We also enjoyed the peshwari nan, special rice, saag paneer and some onion bhajis, all of which left us both more than happy. They quickly cleared our dishes away and returned with the dessert menu. Never being one to waste space on such trivial things, I returned to the menu proper and ran an accumulating finger over the lines. There were still ninety or so dishes that I hadn’t yet tried. Hmmm. There was only one thing for it, I thanked God for capacity and ordered lots more. So why not trek on over and catch up on this pilgrim’s progress, I could be here a while.

25-26 North Lane, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7EE, 01227 455882.

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Some things are sacred in the Gannet household, like Chinese takeaway on a Friday evening and Branston pickle on our cheese sarnies. One fundamental food law is that an Indian meal begins with poppadums and chutneys: it whets the appetite and it carries with it the delicious anticipation of the meal to come. At Margate’s Ambrette we had no poppodums. It bears repeating: NO POPPODUMS! This startling omission marred what was otherwise a positive experience. Having had a mention in the Michelin Guide it was our opinion that this establishment is unlikely to progress to a coveted star in the near future, particularly not in the current premises, which are a little shabby. Service was fine, we were served a complimentary glass of sparkling lychee cocktail on arrival and the meal was punctuated (perhaps too frequently) by small ‘taster’ plates (for example, a sweetcorn pattie and a cup of tomato and lentil soup). The menu itself focuses on excellent quality, locally-sourced meat and fish, cooked South Indian-style. We saw very little on the menu for vegetarians, unless perhaps they were catered for on request. Our starters of pork ribs and grilled tiger prawns were tasty, although we expected the spicing to offer slightly more of a punch. Mrs Gannet’s chicken breast was a generous portion in a delicious massala-style sauce, served with raita, a chickpea dhal, rice and nan bread. I enjoyed a beautiful lamb shank, again with accompaniments and a freshly cooked roti. We had no room for desserts, tempting though they looked. You do pay a little extra for your meal here, but if you can cope with an Indian meal without poppodums, this Jewel in Margate’s Crown is well worth a visit.

44 King Street, Margate, Kent, CT9 1QE, 01843 231504.

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I’ve always loved exploring. As a child my Dad pretending to get lost on a country drive excited more than my Atari ever could. Not knowing what lay ahead made me into an adventurer. Thirty or so years on I still get that same feeling, it’s just harder to find- ironically, now we’ve got GPS. I guess this means that new discoveries have an increased impact on me, and maybe that’s why this week I’m writing about Westgate. How did I miss it? Has it been there long? Have Thanet District Council been hiding it? What a place. I think I may be falling in love: it’s got an independent cinema. A station at its heart, so I can come and go as I please. There’s Angelo’s Deli that bakes fresh bread. I can learn to line dance at the Westgate Pavilion. The people are welcoming and the property represents remarkable value. But more than anything, there’s the Regency Tandoori. It may have taken 6 months of living in Thanet to find a take-away that I truly enjoy, but it was worth the wait. The King Prawn Dhansak, Chicken Pathia, Vegetable Korma, Sag Paneer and Onion Bhajis were some of the best I’ve tasted. The Peshwari naan could have done with being 50% bigger but then I’m a greedy git. The staff were friendly, our food good value and the throng of take-away customers would suggest that most of Westgate’s residents are patrons. I say we quash this conspiracy to keep it to themselves and tell the rest of Thanet about my amazing discovery. Spread word of Regency Tandoori (7th Wonder of Westgate) to everyone that will listen. Be sure to tell them not to pop down on a Saturday though as I’d rather nobody came between me and my new found treasure.

9 Station Road, Westgate-on-Sea, Kent, CT8 8RB, 01843 831412.

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Where would you go in Thanet this weekend if cash and calories weren’t an issue? I’d head down to Posillipo’s in Broadstairs on Friday evening for chilled beers, a pizza that could flatten a tenor and a large helping of Neapolitan charm. Saturday morning would be spent reading the papers at Peens whilst I made one of Thanet’s finest breakfasts disappear. Magic. Off to Ramsgate around 1ish to try and solve the amazing Eddie Gilbert’s conundrum.  Batter or no batter?  What a dilemma. What a decision. What a place. Still no closer to answering this gastronomic riddle I’d cast off in search of my beloved curry – fat nostrils leading me Margatewards. Everybody has his or her favourite spice girl and mine is The Indian Princess. She’s a little too modern for some and a little too expensive for others but I’ll take her as is.  On Sunday I’d probably treat myself to a lie in but would rise just in time to order lunch at Age and Sons. I’d spend the afternoon grazing on local produce in an informal setting, happily pickling myself on their remarkable wine list. I’ll leave Sunday night free, however, as there are 13 other Thanet restaurants nominated in the 2009 Kent Restaurant awards that could do with my custom. I won’t be able to visit them all in one evening, so maybe you could instead.

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