Cowes, which endures all year around despite the oft-repeated myth that the place shuts down in winter, has the benefit of no less than three good-quality curry restaurants. The final member of this triumvirate to fall under the scrutiny of Matt and Cat is the Cowes Tandoori.
The Cowes Tandoori is set out in the rather predictable smart refurbished style which so many tandoori restaurants now sport. Laminate floor, recessed purple lighting on white ceilings, plenty of chrome and Ikea chic.
Entering the restaurant on a drizzly winter’s night, Matt and Cat were greeted by the (initially) attentive waiter and shown to a table in the window. They soon settled down with a couple of drinks and the menu. The smart restaurant was complemented by immaculate new menus, dazzlingly laundered table cloths and stylish cutlery, not to mention a swish website (probably the best website for a tandoori that Matt and Cat have ever seen [but as of 2010 expired and no longer online 🙁 ]). However, this fine attention to detail was slightly marred by more than one amendment to the menu in biro. Nonetheless, the scribbling did not detract from Matt and Cat’s ogling of the bill of fare, which included clearly-labelled vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections, plenty of seafood dishes and a good selection of ‘sundries’.
Cat chose chicken passanda, and Matt ventured into the unknown with nizami chicken. They also splashed out on a cauliflower bhajee and some papadoms. Helpfully, the menu explained what some of the more unusual featured dishes were: nizami chicken is “Chicken tikka cooked with fresh ginger, garlic, green chillies, mustard seed and yoghurt“. This can be quoted, you see, because Cowes Tandoori publishes its entire menu on their website. Not bad, eh, and particularly useful for forgetful reviewers M and C.
The food was delivered promptly, and looked good. In Matt’s opinion, the portions were not vast, especially the cauliflower bhajee which only just managed to cover the bottom of its modest dish. Cat was very pleased with her passanda, both the quantity and the quality satisfied her moderate appetite. The tandoori chicken chunks were possibly the biggest of any Tandoori restaurant reviewed on this website; the sauce was thick and tasty (but mild) and topped with a generous sprinkling of sliced almonds.
Matt was a little more dubious about his chicken nazami; despite the exciting description, and the even more exciting price tag of £10.95, the dish, though very enjoyable, was nothing exceptional. The fresh green chillies were excellent, the mustard seed certainly gave it an interesting texture, but overall the flavour was not dissimilar to a good balti. The cauliflower bhajee, by contrast, although scant, was really delicious.
Matt and Cat forewent pudding despite the sweet menu being illustrated by some good-looking (if pre-frozen) offerings including lemon sorbet served in an actual lemon! As is now customary in almost every establishment the bill took an age to arrive. When it did, it became clear that the good quality food at the Cowes Tandoori did come at a price. Although not outrageous, the prices here are higher than at some other restaurants Matt and Cat have visited. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable evening, and Matt and Cat went back out into the cold evening feeling well-fed and content.