Anjuna

March 26, 2011

I’ve been meaning to try Anjuna on Highcross Street, Leicester,  since it opened over a year ago but have only just made it.  Think I was slightly put off by the Indian/Goan tag –  the long menu combined curry house standards with Goan specialities in a way that suggested it might be trying to just please everyone and end up being characterless.

I’m pleased to say that wasn’t our experience on a visit earlier this week.   In terms of decor, it goes for a light, modern, airy feel and brings it off, although the rear area where we were placed has a bit of corridor feel. What made it special it though were welcoming, helpful, cheerful staff who – espcially once we showed we wanted to try out their Goan dishes – were really keen to explain and enthuse about  the cuisine. Bob started with Goan potato chops – patties of mashed potato filled with ligthly spiced minced lamb – these had the comfort-food feel of shepherd’s pie  about them and were pleasant rather inspiring.  Goans are renowned for loving pork so I thought I’d be on safe ground with Goan spare ribs – and indeed these were lovely. Good meaty ribs with spot-on spices that left the lips nicely tingling.

It seems the restaurant attracts a fair number of people who’ve done the Goan beach holiday thing and are keen to to reacquaint themselves with local dishes. So while the menu does include the familiar coconut-milk fish curries, there are also more distinctive, Portugese-influenced dishes such as Sorpotel made with belly of pork and liver, and spicy Goan sausages made from pickled pork. We chose two mains that featured the keynote hot and sour flavour combinations.  My shark ambotik was delicious, a thin broth-like sauce had a tangy heat from tamarind pulp and a spice mix that had cloves to the fore. Bob’s pork vindaloo had  a thicker, richer sauce given a tang from vinegar and a smoky, fiery heat from roasted chillies.

Not spectacular food, then, but it did have the considerable virtues of being lively, distinctive, freshly prepared, honest food prepared by people who care. That puts it ahead of many restaurants and certainly worth checking out if you’re keen to try a rather different style.  I can’t say  how their rogan josh or tikka masala measures up against the competition but I’m certainly tempted to come back to try dishes such the masala stuffed mackerel.

* By the way, somebody last week became the 10,000th visitor to this blog. Whoever it was thank you, and thank you to everyone else who pops by.

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Go on, go on, Goan

November 4, 2009

Another new restaurant is close to opening on the edge of Highcross. Anjuna bills itself rather curiously as “Indian and Goan”. Much as I like the idea of a Goan restaurant in Leicester,  that soubriquet does ring a few alarm bells  – as if they want to trade on  the cachet of something a little different, while still reassuring punters that, yeah you can till get an onion bhajee and lamb bhuna.  One of the reasons that Granby Street’s Kayal is such a fine restaurant is that they focus on  authentic Keralan food. Now authenticity by itself does not guarantee food being good or bad, but what it does suggest is that a restauarant is confident of its offering,  that it is serving up a cuisine that is tried and tested over generations rather than something trimmed, altered and messed around with in the pursuit of  custom.

I look forward to trying Anjuna in due course nonetheless.  It’s located on Highcross Street, next to the casino in a site that previously housed relatively shortlived Italian and Thai restaurants.

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