Brad Barnes dines at  The Banyan Tree in Westgate, PeterboroughBrad Barnes dines at  The Banyan Tree in Westgate, Peterborough
Brad Barnes dines at The Banyan Tree in Westgate, Peterborough

A new look and exciting menu changes at Peterborough restaurant

It has long been something of a family favourite, The Banyan Tree in Peterborough city centre, and I was reminded why when I revisited last week.

Funnily enough my then five-year-old daughter chose it as the venue for her fifth birthday lunch – and, now 10 – she was with me once more, although no special occasion was necessary.

Oh, and chicken korma and tikka masala were definitely off limits!

Like many people visiting Indian restaurants I have a habit of going for the same thing over and over – and there is nothing wrong with a good biryani mind you.

And that is why I like this particular place in Westgate, which I am sure some people still remember as The Royal Hotel from years gone by, because it tends to offer something a little different to tempt you out of your comfort zone.

It is where some years ago I developed a fondness for its Indian street food dishes (they still feature as starters) such as bhel puri – a wonderful savoury puffed wheat concoction - and delicious Koshimbir salads, that I still haven’t managed to replicate at home.

Well since my last visit it has had a bit of a makeover, that is still ongoing upstairs, and seen some new dishes, lots from Southern India and not so familiar, added to the menu.

Both downstairs dining areas have changed – the Indian pop art wallpaper has gone, replaced by something more classy, the lime green chairs have gone and there is more wooden panelling on the walls, painted a subtle and contemporary grey.

Not huge changes, but noticeable.

And then there is the food.

Yes the masses are well catered for but there are plenty of dishes that require and merit some attention if you fancy straying from the norm.

We had popadoms – one plain and one (masala popadom) fully loaded with onion and tomato, always a great combination in any cuisine, with coriander and chilli powder adding some heat.

Simple but delicious.

We kicked things off properly with a plate of fisherman's prawns – quite a spicy sauce but the big, juicy prawns were sensational.

Slightly less spiced, but equally if not more tasty, were the chicken lollipops – French-trimmed wings in a light, slightly sticky batter that was so moreish, and there was plenty of meat too.

Another first was the masala dosa, which Jasmine swears someone made to great acclaim on MasterChef recently; A light, crisp, folded crepe with a spicy potato filling, served with coconut chutney and sambhar, a thick, lightly spiced lentil broth.

Another winner all round.

We rounded things off with snow crab and prawn moilee – no, another new one on me too; a smooth, creamy, rich coconut sauce packed with more delicious king prawns and soft crab meat that wasn’t overpowered by the sauce to be fair.

The mopping up was aided by an ever-so-soft peshwari naan, a sweet treat in itself.

As ever, the food, service and atmosphere was an absolute pleasure.

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