Although we don’t claim to have our fingers on the pulse of all the zeitgeisty food fashions, a recent trip to Bristol showed us that ‘raw’ food, sliders and nose-to-tail eating are still very much on the mainland’s (artfully-chipped enamelled) plate. Islandside, we’re all over The Rise of the Vegan, foil dishes and the increasingly ubiquitous lo-fi interior.
Local food is not going anywhere either – after all, that would only add to the food miles. The Isle of Wight is rightly exploiting its natural goodness, and the talent of its cheesemakers, gelateria and market gardeners continues apace to the delight of lifestyle journalists, selling the world a food tourism dream.
Although nothing new, one vogue that’s got food bloggers all a-tremble is what your great grandparents might have disparagingly called “foreign grub”. Global cuisine, a strong presence in the street food scene, is eagerly-sought – and the more obscure the better. We hear that Levantine cuisine is everyday fare in London these days, along with Eritrean tacos and Japanese gyoza. Even as near as Southsea, we’ve enjoyed Venezuelan stuffed arepas and, closer to home, the Asian fusion magic of steam-cooked dumplings.
Stoically watching these fads wax and wane is Ryde Tandoori. It’s probably a testament to this country’s capacity for integration that, while enthusing over the fare of newly-arrived overseas chefs, we conversely see our established high street Indian restaurants as part of the furniture – as English as chicken tikka masala.
Confined to barracks at the time of this review, Cat opted for a takeaway otherwise we’d have taken our seats in the busy restaurant. Matt collected the dinner about half an hour after ordering on a Saturday night. The goods were ready and waiting for him – it must’ve been full steam ahead in the kitchen. Even with the ten percent discount for collecting our meal it seemed a reasonable price for all the food.
We emptied the package: first, loads of complimentary crispy poppadoms emerged, followed by a bag of chopped onion and tomatoes (does anyone eat this?), plus small tubs of mango chutney and cucumber and mint raita. Delving further we discover our tutti-frutti pilau rice, a pillowy naan, side dishes and then the motherlode: Matt’s lamb dansak and Cat’s moglai chicken. Remarkably in our previous two reviews of Ryde Tandoori (2006 and 2009) Cat had the exact same dish both times, so had decided to make it a hat-trick.
Sometimes the milder creamy curries that chilli-dodging Cat prefers can be sweet and cloying. Not so Ryde Tandoori’s moglai chicken. The tender pieces of chicken breast, with their edges orangey (presumably from the tandoor oven) sat in a mellow yellow yoghurt sauce, enriched with cream and almonds. During its journey from Union Street to nearby M&C Towers where it was unwrapped, plated and photographed, the dinner started to cool, so Cat shovelled it in, enjoying the meaty chunks and mild sauce. Her choice of side, mushroom bhaji, was chock full of quartered button mushrooms and, although pretty oily on top, the sauce itself was slightly spicy and complimented the smooth curry.
Poppadums and dips – free
Plain naan £2.25
Pilau rice £3.50
Mushroom bhaji £3.50
Bhindi bhaji £3.50
Lamb dansak £9.25
Moglai chicken £8.95
Total (including 10% discount for collection) £27.05
Although the Ryde Tandoori menu goes through the motions of offering a smattering of exotic ‘house specials’, we all know that the old classics are what’s going to hit the spot. Lamb dansak is such a dish, and Matt was satisfied with the sweet, tangy sauce and modest scattering of meat. His accompanying okra bhaji was disappointingly seemingly not made with fresh okra, but was tasty and a generous portion nonetheless.
Dabbing at our curries with the soft warm naan, we soon realised the portion was bigger than our capacity to eat it. Cat pushed her cutlery together with some meat left untouched and Matt made a manly effort with the remains of the salty poppadums but we were satisfyingly defeated.
So, ticking off the food trends after our dinner from Ryde Tandoori? Firstly, the venue is all about the hard floors and recessed lighting – not quite on-trend bare brick and filament bulbs, so half a tick there. Global food? Certainly. Portable? Yup, if you go for the takeaway option. Admittedly it’s not served to you on a bamboo boat, street food taco-style, but at least the plastic boxes are reusable and recyclable.
Ryde Tandoori is a stalwart of Ryde Leisure Strip’s ever-changing food offering. We’ve said it before; Union Street is the global food capital of the Island with Italian, Caribbean, Thai, English, Texan and Mediterranean cuisine. Although this restaurant could be overlooked in favour of Bendula or the fusion menu of new joint Alternative, it’s still got plenty to offer. Having been in Ryde in one incarnation or another since 1962, the restaurant isn’t ruffled by short-term novelty, locavorism or the faddy food-free movement, and at least one dish has been on the menu for more than a decade – and long may it remain.]
This is the full-length version of the review that appeared in the Isle of Wight County Press.
- Well-established restaurant
- Reliable menu with all your favourites
- Good curries, made to order
- One or two dishes a tad oily