Curry addict tries town's new hotspot
EATING curry is something I've been doing a lot of recently. As one of the judges of the Post's Indian Restaurant of the Year competition, I worked my way through a mountain of poppadums, spicy mains and naan breads last month to find the best curry house in the county.
You might think, come February, that I've had my fill of curry.
But no. I think I'm addicted. Come the weekend my tastebuds are craving some fiery action so I sampled Long Eaton's newest Indian restaurant.
Al Naseeb is located in what used to be the Top House pub. After an extensive renovation, the dingy looking pub in Market Place was transformed into a contemporary restaurant, the stylish decor dominated by glistening crystal lighting.
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Before the signs went up I had been hoping that it might be a much-needed Chinese or Italian since the town is already well served by three Indian restaurants.
The newcomer sets itself apart by offering fine Indian dining – living in the town for ten years, I've never once heard the words Long Eaton and fine dining said in the same sentence so the bar is set high.
As we were shown to our table on Friday night the restaurant was almost full so I'm glad we booked. Taking centre stage is an open-plan kitchen although we couldn't see the chef in action as we were seated around the side.
Service was swift. Drinks and poppadums arrived within minutes. The pickle tray was a feisty little number with three spicy dips but none of the usual cooling yoghurt. It turned out this was charged extra.
There was no question what I was going to start with as soon as I set eyes on the menu. Hot chilli fish was one of the dishes that wowed me at the restaurant I judged the county's finest, Haveli just down the road in Chilwell.
At Al Naseeb it arrived with a flourish, in a sundae glass bedecked with swirls of carrot and dill. Top marks for presentation and quantity. Generous chunks of cod in a beautiful piquant sauce never seemed to end as I delved into the hollow stem. My only niggle was that the fish had turned to mush by the end.
My husband couldn't fault his starter, the spicy grill selection's chicken tikka and lamp chops were delicately flavoured and succulent.
With 15 speciality mains to choose from in addition to the usual madras, dansak and kormas, it had taken an age to decide. But the promise of lean slow-cooked Hedrabadhi lamb reeled me in.
It is a village dish and a favourite of all Indians according to the menu but, disappointingly, it wasn't the melt-in-the-mouth tender chunks I'd hoped for but bite-size pieces of meat that were a little on the chewy side.
Chicken Mirch Masala was my husband's choice. He loved the spiciness and found it refreshing to have a dish with tasty leg and wing meat.
I always check out online reviews AFTER visiting a restaurant so I can go in with an open mind. Al Naseeb seems to be highly popular with some describing it as five-star and, outstanding.
Two go as far as calling it Long Eaton's very own Ritz and the best fine Indian dining in the UK.
Although Al Naseeb is good, this is over-egging the omelette.
Although it could be a worthy contender in the 2013 Indian Restaurant of the Year competition, Al Naseeb is not yet in the same league as big guns MemSaab, 4450 Miles from Delhi and Haveli.