There’s a saying that ‘You eat with your eyes first’ – the way food looks is what gets us excited.
I’m not so sure. I’d proffer that in many cases, we eat with our nose, if you can excuse the bovine imagery.
Smell is what really gets us smacking our lips, I think.
Little Oliver’s offices are a short walk from Nawaab, the Indian restaurant in Wellington Street, and its strong, exotic scents have had me craning my neck round and pushing my nose up against its windows, Dickensian child-style, for some years. But this week was the time, as a friend and I sought something spicy ahead of the relentless yuletide bacon-sausage-cranberry-turkey-stuffing carousel.
We were greeted instantly on arrival and shown to a good, central table. The restaurant’s colour scheme and style is typical of many Indian restaurants, with tables of various sizes to accommodate all parties, and at this time of year even extends to some twinkly lights and a snow globe decoration.
Asked if we’d like some poppadoms as we sit down, we of course did, and the four pickle tray pots were plentiful, sweet and tasty.
The menu is a big one and has a larger than expected vegetarian section, which kept my co-diner happy.
For a starter, I had the fish (haddock) pakoras, and my friend went for the onion bhajis.
Portions were good, the fish was not bad, and the batter not too heavy, so a welcome start to the meal. The bhajis had a lovely gentle spice.
Then for my main, it seemed opportune to go for the very first thing on the menu – the Chicken Nirali – which was a “Chef of the Year Award Winning Dish” (though no indication of when this happened). It’s diced, boneless chicken marinated with yoghurt and a masala sauce and herbs, cooked with tomatoes, ginger, onions and a blend of spices with double cream, and garnished with cashew nuts and fried onions. Lovely. My veggie companion opts for the Balti Aloo Gobi – potatoes, cauliflower with spices. We shared a plain naan (which was great) and pilau rice.
Again, portions were generous. The flavour is delicate and creeps on you the more you eat it, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was a little like Korma only less powerful. My friend was satisfied with her dish, though.
All in all, we were happy with it for just a little over £42.
It was nearly full by the time we finished, except one long banquet table behind. But even this was taken at the end, as a noisy group of men took their seats. “Lads, lads, lads,” I snarked, turning round. It was the full YEP sports team sitting down for their Christmas meal.
Now there’s an endorsement!