133 Fairview Road, Cheltenham, GL52 2EX | (01242) 528449
Curry Corner in Cheltenham is a long-established tandoori restaurant serving classic dishes in excellent surroundings.
Hidden away in a quiet corner of town, Curry Corner proved that you might have to hunt for exceptional Indian cuisine in Cheltenham, but it certainly doesn’t require a long haul journey.
Snuggled in a row of residential houses in Cheltenham’s Fairview Road, the unfamiliar diner would be forgiven for completely missing Curry Corner. Its unpretentious entrance gives little indication as to what tantalising treasures lie within, but on any given evening you won’t have to wait long before you see diners smiling with smug satisfaction emerging from the deceptively modest doorway.
If Indian restaurants conjure up images of carry-out kormas then think again. Curry Corner is as far away from the bring-your-own-bottle balti houses lining the High Street, as Cheltenham is from the subcontinent – with 30 years of success in the county to prove it.
Run by chef-owner Shamsul Krori and his wife Saleha since 1977, the Indian and Bangladeshi restaurant was recently given a makeover costing almost £1 million, and the new décor proved just another clue that Curry Corner is far from run-of-the-mill – boasting silk-lined walls, palatial Indian carvings and rich embroidered tapestries which all go to give a tasteful art gallery effect to the modern restaurant spanning the first floor.
We were seated by 7pm, with the restaurant already proving pretty busy for a mid-week evening, and soon were scanning the wine list before turning the pages of the menu which, divided in two, features both regional choices from ‘the new era’ as well as the ‘best of the last 30 years’ selection – meaning twice as many options to pore over.
In a bid to save our scratching heads we, very lazily, selected the shared taster platter to start – and were very glad we did too. A feast for any carnivore, we delightfully chewed on succulent marinated chicken and lamb tikka, moist tandoori chicken, and meat-filled samosas with glee – with all the juicy temptations presented terrifically well and bursting with individually-crafted flavours.
The commitment to locally-sourced, fresh, quality ingredients and an obvious flair in the kitchen continued into the main courses. From the ‘best of the 30 years’ menu my dining companion took little persuasion to opt for the ‘Chef Shamsul Krori’s Signature 16 Spice Masala’ – as much of a mouthful of rich, heavily-infused flavours as it was to say. The boneless hunks of lamb simmered in the title’s 16 freshly ground spices to create a warm tanginess, with the creation proving it is the chef’s pride and joy for obvious reasons. Accompanied by the recommended garlic rice and a freshly-baked honey and pistachio naan, the sweet flavour of the bread worked well with the intense curry and while every last grain of rice was devoured, the dish could have almost fed either of us for a week.
For a lighter and altogether sweeter choice I plumped for the ‘Ashiar Gharer Morich Murghi Tarkari’ which involved a predictably fumbled attempt at pronunciation and many a chuckle from Josh, the friendly manager, patiently taking our order. From ‘the new era’ menu, which is currently featuring regional Bengal choices, the fragrant chicken curry with cardamom and chilli masalla – accompanied by two daunting peppers symbols on the menu – left a warm and pleasant tingle in the mouth and was mopped-up by a crunchy-edged sesame seed naan. Like all of the dishes the presentation was fitting of a glossy magazine – modern and precise, without skimping on portion size.
With belts already needing loosening, a shared decadent dessert of saffron poached pears and vanilla ice cream proved an exceptional finish to a pretty faultless evening – and a leisurely one at that, with both full-to-the-brim diners agreeing that the long evening was worth every second.
We admit that until recently members of Curry Corner’s covert fan club had left us in the cold, so it was with surprise that once we started raving about the restaurant we found friends confessed to selfishly keeping ‘the gem’ to themselves. The word may well and truly out now, but we’re sure Curry Corner’s legions of local fans won’t be too mad at us for breaking the silence. The best thing about secrets, after all, is sharing them.
The average price for a three-course meal for two at Curry Corner, excluding drinks, is around £45.
By Michelle Fyrne
Tuesday 19 February 2008
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