Saturday, 08 May 2021

Restaurant at the heart of the village

SONNING Common has only one Indian restaurant and, frankly, it’s easy to understand why.

SONNING Common has only one Indian restaurant and, frankly, it’s easy to understand why.

With the nearest curry houses in Caversham or Henley, the Tandoori Connoisseur in Wood Lane is in the heart of the village as well as the hearts of its regulars.

As I eat my meal on a warm Tuesday evening when Indian food may not be people’s first thought, a steady stream of takeaway orders are collected.

Customers are in and out within 90 seconds after a friendly chat with head waiter Ahmed, who knows all his regulars by their first name.

Whilst these niceties make for a more pleasant experience they aren’t what keep people coming back time and again. That would be the food.

Tandoori Connoisseur’s chefs do all the basics of Indian food superbly.

Poppadums are crisp and most importantly not oily, served with lime pickle, mint sauce and mango chutney.

The mint sauce, a vibrant yellow speckled with green, and the mango chutney, a deep orange, both have a thick consistency.

Neither are quite as special as the lime pickle, however, something I am not usually a fan of, which provides a great sweet and sour contrast in one mouthful.

The garlic naan was soft without being doughy and made you feel like the balloon at a children’s birthday party.

It provided a great complement to the main recommended by Ahmed â?? chicken jaflong â?? one of the house specialities.

Jaflong, also available with lamb, is made with charcoaled green peppers and onions with a bhuna sauce and can be spiced to your specification.

The soft chunky vegetables provide substance to the  dish beyond the meat, which was higher in quantity that most curry houses I have been to either side of the Thames.

Jaflong still has the perks of its sauce, which can be mopped up with the excellent naan.

I also tried the onion bhajis, mixed meat kebabs and garlic mushrooms, all of which were of high quality.

The bhajis in particular were a standout, with a hard outer shell and soft inside, without being greasy or falling apart.

Throughout the meal the waiters were attentive without being pushy and, most importantly, Ahmed and his team know their menu.

All the questions I asked he was happy to answer and provide details about the dishes on offer.

The restaurant provides a relaxing environment, as  any venue should do, and whilst it has all the great  scents of Indian food these are not overbearing or pervasive.

I did have a small dessert of honey, almonds and vanilla, which was pleasant if not special.

Then again, as far as I’m aware Britain’s Indian food addiction is hardly driven by the desserts they offer, it’s  all about the magnificent curries and you definitely get those at Tandoori Connoisseur.

Review: Connor McLoughlin

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