I’m not entirely sure what happened to the idea of this blog being a regular thing but here I am posting again. Better late than never!
Back in January, Lauren and I returned to Raj Pavillions, somewhere we’d visited both together and apart several times over the past few years. It had actually been a while since our last visit (much like this blog) and our first with the intention of reviewing our meal (having said that, I did write a TripAdvisor review after our very first visit at the suggestion of our waiter – said good reviews help boost morale).
As always, a warm welcome awaited us (not for the TripAdvisor review, just because the staff are friendly). Alarm bells did ring, albeit quietly, when our starters arrived – my Meat Samosas were stacked with a wooden skewer through the middle and I’m always cautious of curry houses that opt for stylish presentation. Thankfully, I was wrong to worry, the flavour had not been sacrificed in the name of style. Lauren opted for Chilli Paneer which she did find to be a little on the hot side.
For my main course I chose Chicken Shorba whilst Lauren ventured into hotter territory with Fish Jalfrezi. The Shorba had a great depth of flavour and the thickness of the sauce complimented the well cooked Chicken that we expect with the Tikka style of cooking. If I had to describe it in a word, it would be hearty. It gave the same sort of warm comfort one gets from a home cooked stew; the perfect choice for a cold winter’s evening.
The danger with seeking comfort in the cold is going too hot and Lauren certainly found this to be the case with the Jalfrezi. Whilst it may not have been to her liking, if you’re the sort of diner who enjoys a face melting curry then look no further!
With the bill came the usual after dinner mints, but these were covered in white chocolate. I didn’t even know they existed.
So, we have a split verdict I suppose – I left with a mouth full of flavour whilst my companion left in a sweat. Lesson learnt – when they say a dish is hot, they mean hot! And that’s not necessarily a reflection on the restaurant, more on the choice of the diner.
I suppose I should start this blog with an apology to my partner, given that this post relates to a night out at the end of March with a promise to write up our visit mere days later. Two months on and I am finally blogging!
Thankfully, the time delay has not dulled my memory of our evening at Ashyana in Henleaze, a restaurant we first visited almost two years ago and that we have had the pleasure of returning to on several occasions (sometimes without one another – we do have friends outside of this blog after all).
Predictable as I am, I chose my usual starter of Prawn Puri followed by a main course of Hara Chicken. The Prawns were cooked perfectly and the sauce struck a good balance between heat and flavour. But it is the main course that excites me – it must be the best dish on their menu and, dare I say, one of the best curries I have had anywhere. The sour notes produced by the tamarind are wonderfully complemented and subdued by the smokiness of the chicken and the richness of the sauce. None of the ingredients tries to overpower the others, they just work together to deliver a taste you will remember for all the right reasons.
Lauren decided to go for one of the house specials – the Ashyana Chicken. It arrived in a foil swan and whilst we weren’t entirely sure that was necessary it certainly did bring a smile to our faces. With dishes like this one, the taste can sometimes take a back seat. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, Lauren enjoyed it and I found the portion I sampled to be flavoursome, but it’s the fact it is the chef’s own recipe, that they add a little something to the presentation, that it’s named after the restaurant. A curry you can’t get anywhere else is always worth trying.
Given the name of our blog I have to include a comment about the naans, because we’ve had enough in our time to know that these side dishes can sometimes make or break a meal. Some places we’ve been to we’ve found the naans to be too crumbly, others too greasy and sometimes too salty. I am pleased to report that Ashyana do not fall victim to any of these ‘peshwari pitfalls’.
If you’re looking for an overall verdict, look no further than my second paragraph. You don’t go back to a restaurant unless there’s something worth returning for. We go back to Ashyana for the flavours, for the service and for the atmosphere. And once you’ve gone on several occasions, you also return for the memories of your previous visits – these memories are always revived at Christmas because they send their customers Christmas cards, which I think is a nice touch. Restaurateurs take note!