Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Is Castle Street the new Mill Road?

There was a time when anyone wanting to try a good Indian restaurant in Cambridge would simply get pointed in the direction of Mill Road.

And rightly so!



The road, thanks to its diverse culture, numerous independent restaurants, and its many many Indians was a no brainer. It was absolutely crammed with decent places to eat. From the top of my head there were at least six Indians to chose from, the most notable being The Golden Curry, Kohinoor, and the Curry Queen. Three well established Indians which have been around for a very long time. They are the kind of places which always offer a great experience and a decent curry.

Sadly though, times have changed and those six have now dwindled.

The Royal Standard down the other end of Mill Road was eventually turned in to an Indian restaurant. I managed to visit the place three or four times in the brief time it was open but sadly it closed down soon after, which was a damn shame because I considered it the best place down Mill Road to eat.

Then there was Chutney Joe's, which is better known as the old Locomotive pub. This place too has since shut - Though if you had ever been there, you'd understand why! The food was appalling and wont be missed by me, though it did offer something different.
There was also an Indian restaurant which opened for a short while which has now been turned in to a fried chicken establishment. It was the first place in town to let you bring in your own drinks. Sadly when I went in there the place hadn't put up a sign up on the door so its name has completely escaped me. This too was a reasonably decent place to eat. This was open for only a year before it closed and often saved you a fortune every time you went in there because you were bringing in supermarket drinks instead of paying for it at restaurant prices.

So after three closures we have been left with the three rocks of Indian food down Mill Road. Golden Curry, Kohinoor, and Curry Queen.
Its a real shame, and though there are still many other fine places to eat down Mill Road, it has lost that important part of its identity with HALF of the Indians closing within the past couple of years.

Are there any other similar streets which could compare to Mill Road?

One which springs to mind for me is Castle Street.
Home to Cafe Naz, a recently reviewed Indian which was visited by The Cambridge Curry Crew only the other week. The sister restaurant to Cafe Naz of Brick Lane and also known as The Cambridge Curry Center blew us all away with its modern look, great atmosphere and delicious food. Its now up there as one of the highest rated Indians in Cambridgeshire on our Curry Crew poll!

I still keep thinking about Daniels chicken tikka at Cafe Naz. 
Delicious!

We also have the Maharajah. A more traditional Indian restaurant which is well known for doing incredibly delicious and spicy curries. The place has a great atmosphere and is handsomely decorated. This one again easily gets in my top 10 (heck, top 5) in the city.

There is also Cocum, a restaurant which specialists in Southern Indian and more traditional Indian dishes. A place I have failed to try yet but too has had nothing but praise and decent reviews consistently.


You are next Cocum!

So we have three places on Castle Street which are well established and incredibly high quality, they also offer great diversity with a traditional, a modern and a specialist style, compared to Mill Road's three traditional Indians. I know currently if I was to recommend a place to go for a decent curry right now it would be Castle Street. Naturally you don't get the ethnic feel from Castle Street as you would from Mill Road which might be part of Mill Roads appeal with shisha cafes, Chinese supermarkets and Turkish kabab houses, but the quality of Castle Street is far superior if you are just looking for a good Indian restaurant.

There is a glimmer of hope for Mill Road however, as Prana has recently opened in to a small restaurant on Mill Road.
Could this be its saving grace?
I haven't had the pleasure to try it yet but it would have to be something special to compete with the likes of Castle Street. It would knock the total Indians on Mill Road to chose from back up to four and they would all be within eyesight of each other.
The place boasts 50 seats inside and huge aspirations to become "the most celebrated Indian in all of Cambridge" - Well, according to their website anyway!



It will have to be something special for me to compete with the giants of Castle Street, so we will have to watch this space.

Opinions?