“How do you know it is the best if you haven’t eaten the food there?” asked Jasmine showing wisdom beyond her four years when I told her we would be having dinner at Sonargaon, the new Peterborough Telegraph Curry House of the Year on Saturday.
I explained it was a reader vote, but she did have a point, so it seemed a good idea to find out what made so many diners put pen to paper for the little Whittlesey restaurant.
It is a Bangladeshi take on the Indian restaurant style, tucked away in the corner of the Market Place, with a little parking outside, although we found a space close by.
We weren’t the first diners just after 5pm, and by 6.45 when we left it was filling up very nicely, creating a friendly atmosphere to match the greeting and service. The decor is fine - it certainly isn’t one of those modern, trendy, glitzy places - and makes the most of the space available, so there wasn’t a lot of room to spare when all the food arrived. But, we coped.
The menu is packed with everyone’s favourite dishes and while we had a good read, tucked into a plate of popadoms and pickles - fresh crispy onion, a smooth chutney, thick, creamy riata and, my favourite, a red creation packed with onion, ginger, garlic and a hint of aniseed.
We shared two old favourites for starters - an onion bhaji that was golden, sweet and crisp but not greasy; and a prawn puree with a soft, moist wrap and tasty filling that was flavoursome but not too spicy to stop the little ones trying and enjoying it.
The starters were good, but for me the food stepped up a notch when the mains arrived.
I went for the Sonargaon take on a chicken biriani and wasn’t disappointed. The rice was light and the small chunks of meat soft and tasty. It comes with a vegetable curry which we swapped for a mild, creamy- with-a-hint-of-coconut chicken curry for the girls to tuck into - with what remained of the popadoms and a naan that was soft and fresh tasting if a little on the sweet side.
Donna’s sizzling chicken shashlick was packed with crunchy onions and peppers and very tasty.
The daal was smooth with a delightful nutty flavour, and was Donna’s favourite part of the meal, while the potato and spinach side dish was a real treat for me with a bit of heat.
The best of the lot, though, a chef’s special lamb dish. The meat was soft and the sauce loaded with garlic, onions and ginger and topped with coriander. It had heat but still allowed the individual flavours to shine through.
If it takes good, friendly service and great food to win awards then that explains why Sonargaon proudly displays its trophy in the window.
Brad Barnes dines at Sonargaon in Market Place, Whittlesey. Tel 01733 204099 or 206800, or email Sonargaon2015@hotmail.com
Brad’s Rating: 9