Friday, May 23, 2014

Sitar


We decided to hit Cherry Hinton (or Chinton, as its known to the locals) and try out the Sitar Tandoori.

Its been a while!

I have eaten here several times in the past during a brief period when I lived here and I remember it being a decent place to eat. That was quite a while ago now, so I thought I would visit and remind myself of its quality. 

As you can see from the picture above the place looks bright and bold, it stands out with its bright vivid colours and has a very clean and a well put together appearance.

When we walked in we were warmly greeted by two very well presented young men who showed us to our table. They pulled our chair out and put napkins on our lap. 
They immediately put out an Indian mix on our tables to snack on before taking our orders.
 Quite a nice touch.


While we nibbled we had a look around the restaurant and took in the decoration. The place, like the outside, looks clean and well put together. They have traditional decoration all over. Lovely paintings, nice wall paper and a wave like ceiling which looks incredible. Even some nice glass lightshades which add a real nice touch of class. It kind of reminds me of the Curry Queen on Mill Road.



The gentleman came over to take our orders. We ordered some poppadoms and a beer. We were pleased to see that they had Mongoose beer on tap. Its good to see something other than Kingfisher or Cobra beer. When they brought it out the beer was ice cold and tasted lovely, certainly more refreshing than the flat sour beer we had at the Kohinoor the other day. I am not sure it was down to the brand of beer or down to how its kept in the restaurant but I would love to know what everyone else thinks of Mongoose beer compared to the others.



When the papadums came out we were given a selection of three sides which were presented in a beautiful white china set. Unlike some china sets, these were quite large so we had plenty and didn't end up running out. 
Contrary to the usual sides served in a lot of other places, I was presented with a red onion salad, rather than a white onion salad. We were given the usual mango chutney as you would expect, but most interesting of all was a pink powder, which ended up being coconut. It added something unusual to the papadums and even gave it a nice texture to the crunch.

Be warned though, it makes one hell of a mess!

This was all very nice and quite different, though I still needed my lime pickle, so I ordered some more and I was pleased to find out they didn't charge us extra.
The lime pickle was a thick and incredibly strong, even for lime pickle - which I loved. Though some of the lime chunks were too big. Over all though the lime pickle it was delicious! 

The mango chutney served us well too, it was incredibly sweet and had a good texture. 

Yum yum. 

While we were eating our poppadoms we decided to order our mains. Looking down the menu we noticed the prices were about average. Certainly not as competitive as Mill Road but by no means expensive. 

One thing I did notice was how there was a larger than average difference between the cost of a regular curry and a tikka'd curry. The curry was £5.50 and a tikka'd version was £7.50. Usually you'd expect a tikka version of a curry to be an extra £1 rather than an extra £2 so it was quite unusual,. This intrigued  me, as lately I have struggled to tell the difference between a regular curry and a tikka version in other places, well, other than a few holes being poked in the meat that is. So I thought I would order a chicken tikka vindaloo and see if the extra pound would perhaps make the meat much nicer than usual competition around here.

We ordered a chicken tikka vindaloo, a vegetable madras and two portions of rice.
Nothing massive as we are eating out so much currently that we have decided to budget a little bit. 

Chicken tikka vindaloo - slightly darker than usual.
Vegetable madrass. 

We finished our papadums and the poor waiter had to come out and clean up the mess from the coconut powder. He was very polite about  it and incredibly chatty and approachable!

Our food came out quite quickly. The vindaloo was a darker colour than usual, but otherwise it all looked very good. Our rice portions were quite generous and cooked well. Nice a fluffy!

Both curries were very mild, which was a shame, as out of all the curries that shouldn't be served mild, it is a vindaloo and madras! 

The tikka'd chicken had an excellent texture, it really felt like the meat had been tenderised and was incredibly satisfying. The chicken had a vivid pink out colour and a creamy centre colour. I certainly see why they charged me an extra £2 rather than the usual £1, though I still think it lacked a little flavour. Something I have noticed is happening a lot over Cambridge lately. 


When we were finished we were given a some aniseed sweet mixture and a hot wet wipe. Unlike a lot of wet wipes these actually stayed hot once we had it out of the packet, though it was sadly still a wet wipe than a proper hot towel.

After we freshened up we decided to pay our bill.

When it arrived we were given an After 8 mint and a pretty average bill. 


Conclusion: Overall we were incredibly pleased with Sitar. Their staff were well presented and incredibly polite. They act the way you would expect from an Indian restaurant with the way they pull out your chairs and put the napkin on your lap. This is not always the case now days.
The place is excellently decorated and everything felt warm and traditional. I particularly loved the art work on the walls and the wave style ceiling.
The food was reasonable and competitively priced, though a little mild which was a bit diappointing.
You get everything you would expect from a traditional Indian restaurant and a little more. The spicy trail mix,  the aniseed mix, the After 8 mints and hot wet wipe for example. 

The Sitar was better than I remember and does everything you'd expect well, they even gives you a little extra. It keeps things traditional and offers a polite and proper service for a reasonable price. I would struggle to believe anyone would leave feeling disappointed. 

8/10