The final Friday of half term saw Red (the wife) return from playing Bear Grills in the Lakes, whilst Fidget and Shy (sons) were both at the end of their exams. This was time for Honest Ade to stand up and treat them all to a slap-up binge somewhere in the Crosby area. Following the advice of my fellow #crosbynet tweeps I booked us in at the recently opened Indian restaurant, Simply Indian, on Crosby Road North. So after some heated sartorial debate with Shy and Fidget over the acceptability of stained tracksuit bottoms or denim shorts we eventually pitched up at the restaurant in smart order.
The dining room is a fairly spacious and open place with a subtle brown theme and piped music (not the sort you all remember from post-pub curry houses of old, of Ravi Shankar on speed) which was pleasant and understated. We were greeted at the door by the very pleasant owner with a firm and friendly hand shake then offered a choice of tables: we chose the window (Red is as nosy as they come).
It was as the menu arrived that the first bombshell was delivered: they do not yet have a license (NOTE: they do now have a license). The apologetic waiter explained this as he saw me scouring the drinks menu for something stronger than a mango smoothie. The license is in process and we were offered the opportunity to pop over to Tesco and bring in any drinks we wished for and they would happily provide the glasses. This I chose not to do as the heavens had just opened, and anyway sparkling water is good for you as Red told me.
Simply Indian is keen to emphasise the authentic over the populist
Unperturbed we addressed the menu: a real triumph of authentic Indian food and a welcome antidote to the all too frequent anglicised, chicken tikka masala dominated menus of many Indian restaurants. And this is the point: Simply Indian is keen to emphasise the authentic over the populist and this showed with many of the dishes deriving, in one form or another, from Indian street food.
With poppadoms and a chromatic array of dips in front of us we made our choices: shared starters of lamb samosas which were moist, with a deep flavour and real kick of heat, a delightful King Prawn Puri (spicy prawns wrapped in a fried Indian flatbread) which was extremely good and some Mokmoli chicken wings which, although good, did not come in the promised batter, more of a coating, and were slightly sinewy and not as spicy as I had hoped. Nevertheless portions were generous and presentation thoughtful, which may explain the slight delay between courses which, though not to the degree you would complain, was noticeable. Maybe this was just another element of the authentic Indian experience after all wouldn’t we all be slightly lethargic in the 40 degree heat of Mumbai?
As for the mains we decided to share 3 between the 4 of us. Fidget, having been diverted away from the meat feast of a mixed grill, went for an offering from the tandoor in the form of a half of tandoori chicken (the whole chicken is also available for a very affordable £10.95). this was cooked expertly: remaining moist and tender inside whilst having that delicious crisp smokiness on the outside.
Shy was content with naan bread and boiled rice having spent 5 mins telling us in a loud voice “I don’t like Indians”. He was of course referring to the type of restaurant rather than the people but he was oblivious to our embarrassment and the fact that two days earlier such a comment might have had him elected as the UKIP councillor for Church Ward. I digress.
Red originally opted for the chicken korma but was helpfully guided by our waiter towards the house special chicken makhanwala, a dish created in the 1950s for the delicate sensibilities of Delhi’s elite. This was indeed a good move with the tikka marinated chicken arriving awash with that rich, luxurious buttery sauce that so many other restaurants get wrong. I found this to be at the upper end of mild in terms of heat, though for Red this was the top end of her thermo-buccal capacity. Nevertheless she enjoyed it, so much so that I did not have time to get a pic of it!
This was a traditional, fragrantly spiced chicken dish originating from the rural roadside cafes of India
As for Honest Ade, I went for the chicken dhaba curry. This was a traditional, fragrantly spiced chicken dish originating from the rural roadside cafes of India. My excursion down the rural byways of the sub-continent was well worthwhile. The chicken was moist and tender whilst the sauce was excellent: truly flavour packed with the emphasis upon carefully balanced spices with a delayed deep warmth of heat to remind you of where you are. For me this was the pick of the mains.
With the bill ordered we were set to leave when bombshell 2 arrived: the apologetic staff pointed out that the card machine was on the blink. With £7.43 in my pocket that visit to Tesco did take place after all. Once settled up the matriarch of the operation appeared with a comments book asking for our views, which we duly delivered, and our email address for future events and offers. Overall this was a very authentic Indian experience though I am not sure I would have been asked for my email address at the rural roadside cafe.
Type: family / budget restaurant
- Service: 7/10 Very pleasant but lethargic between courses
- Atmosphere: 8/10 pleasant dining room
- Food: 8/10 authentic, well cooked food
- Value for money: 9/10 very reasonably priced and generous portions
- Overall: 8 Authentic Indian food but need to get license and card machine sorted
These are judged against the best of that type of restaurant. For example cafes against what you would expect from the best cafes, high end restaurants against the best high end restaurants etc.
Website: Simply Indian