Review - Hove Tandoori

Review – Hove Tandoori

It was the first Monday of the month and that can only mean one thing: Curry Club. There are no particular rules about Curry Club except that the restaurant has to be inside the Brighton and Hove border. Nor is the cuisine strictly limited to Indian, the decision on where to take  upwards of 15 other hungry members could branch out to a Thai, for example. However, after last months excursion to The Chilli Pickle (read the full review here…), I got the feeling people were in the mood for a good, old fashioned, Westernised, Indian curry.

This month saw Chris Pye choosing the establishment and I’m told he did his research and found us an “award winner”. Chris’s choice took us on an adventure to a part of Brighton not many Curry Club members had visited before (Hove) and at first his choice of Hove Tandoori was met with at a dry response. “It’s so far away!” I heard one member exclaim, closely followed by question of “where is Church Road?” Would it be worth the trek into “nearly Portslade”? Read on…

Monday saw the start of Summer whereby the sun shone for the majority of the day and was forecast to last well into the rest of the week. Perfect weather for a cheeky pint beforehand. We’d had to book a later table than usual due to scheduling conflicts and weren’t due to sit down until 8.30pm, however, this did mean ample beer drinking time in the sun, with a few members deciding to start early and continue into the evening.

Starting out at The Western Front and basking in the sunshine, it wasn’t long until we made our way to the ‘half way pub’ of The Brunswick on Holland Road. Stopping here and re-grouping, the turn out was 100%. Sauntering along the seafront and wondering where we were being led to, we eventually turned right onto Sackville Road, doubled back and found ourselves outside a quiet, unassuming looking Indian restaurant. However, inside it was a terracotta paradise, bustling with life and the fragrant smell of home cooked Indian food hitting you as soon as you stepped in the doorway. A good start.

Due to the large group booking, we were seated on a rectangular, long table to the left of the restaurant and I took my place on a corner seat. Before I’d had time to settle in, baskets of poppadoms flew onto the table and waiters buzzed around us. I was glad that the poppadoms and dips were provided without request – certainly no fuss over who’s ordered what and how many, plus it gave a feeling that the Hove Tandoori were keen to care for and feed us!

Curry Club

Curry Club

Now then, I’ll be honest, I find ordering Indian cuisine a nightmare. I never know what anything is and I’m always wary of choosing something that’s too spicy for my pallet. Thankfully, the menu at Hove Tandoori is excellent with it’s vast array of dishes clearly laid out with very informative information about what each dish contains. Broken down into easy to navigate categories (think massala, balti, biriani etc) the choice was endless.

Ordering a Magners (£4.30) and enjoying snapping off bites of crispy, crunchy poppadoms, I was really enjoying the lively atmosphere so far. However, trying to decide on what to order was proving challenging. Do I play it safe with a korma? Will the vindaloo eaters laugh in my mild face? In the end I went for the Mixed Starter – Onion bhaji, sheek kebab, chicken and lamb tikka (£5.65), King Prawn Tandoori Massala – King prawns in a mild, creamy sauce made from fresh coriander, yogurt, almonds and tandoori spices. Served with basmati rice (£10.80) and a Garlic Naan – bread stuffed with fresh garlic (£2.80).

The starters soon streamed out of the kitchen onto our already fairly rowdy table, everyone asking each other what they’d ordered. A fair few of us went for the Mixed Starter and personally, I didn’t feel disappointed.

Mixed Starter at the Hove Tandoori

Mixed Starter at the Hove Tandoori

I found photographing in low light even more of a challenge. However, I do feel the above photo depicts the not so great presentation of my starter. They certainly got the ‘mixed’ part right as everything was jumbled on the plate.

Presentation aside, the quality of the food was really good. Both the sheek kebab and tikka meat were well spiced and fragrant with both full of moisture and not at all dry. The onion bhaji was crispy and didn’t over power the tangy, fruity tikka pieces. It did fall apart quite easily and get lost in the field of kebab, tikka and garnish, however, a small price to pay for such a well spiced and enjoyable bhaji.

I enjoyed my starter and found it a great introduction to the Hove Tandoori.

King Prawn Tandoori Massala

King Prawn Tandoori Massala

Dishes were soon piled high across every spare inch of the table. Again, I feel the presentation could have been a little more, however, I was excited about getting stuck in!

Lots of great Indian dishes at Hove Tandoori.

Lots of great Indian dishes at Hove Tandoori.

My favourite thing about my dish were the prawns. Perhaps I have quite low expectations when ordering shellfish dishes in restaurants, I usually expect the prawns to be limp, lifeless and torn out of their shells. These however were plumb, juicy and sat proudly in the bottom half of their shell waiting to be ripped out and devoured by me.

My tandoori massala sauce was rich, creamy and provided a wonderful mild backdrop to some fine shellfish. However, I’d have liked a slight kick to the sauce as it was exceptionally mild and almost tame. Feedback from other Curry Club members was that some of their dishes also lacked a spicy punch they were expecting.

The rice was piping hot, came in a large bowl and was shared across my end of the table. The garlic naan was also really good and provided some excellent mopping material to the massalla sauce.

The element I enjoyed most of the evening was dipping in and out of each others dishes and sampling different bits and pieces. I tried some sag (I have no idea which kind!) and found it most pleasant. I was offered a try of the vindaloo that others had ordered but politely declined.

Hove Tandoori provided me with what my idea of going for an Indian is all about – eating, trying new things and socialising, all of which were provided in the pleasant, modest and reasonably priced Hove restaurant. I’ve found my new favourite Indian in town (so far…) and am also pleased they do takeaway for those evenings when cooking a meal is a bit too much.

A great meal and a highly enjoyable evening out – Chris Pye himself summed it up with this quote “nice atmosphere, the staff controlled the large group well, letting us know about what food was coming out without being rude. Very good.”