THOUGH allegedly under threat, the British curry house must remain as one of the country’s best loved institutions.
And what fine places they are. The promise of hot curries and cold beers is usually enough to tempt me through the doors.
And if that’s not enough, the exotic but equally familiar and comforting smell wafting across the pavement will definitely do the trick.
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Millennium in Framwellgate Moor is one such fine institution, and given how busy it was on the Saturday night we visited, the good people of the area clearly agree.
Situated in Front Street, from the outside the Bangladeshi restaurant is nothing to write home about, looking more like a takeaway than a sit-down restaurant (though it does that too if you would rather munch your poppadoms while in your pyjamas).
On the inside it looks a little dated. With the decor of a slightly old fashioned hotel, it’s certainly not as slick as many more modern establishments.
However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and the same can be said of curries so I was far more interested in the menu than the wallpaper.
It’s a tome of several pages, with a long list of many familiar favourites as well a good selection of interesting sounding chef’s recommendations.
After some deliberation we went for a tandoori themed starter, with my dining companion choosing the mixed kebab (£4.95) while I went for the king prawn (£6.45).
Both were delicious. The sweet, spicy, smoky marinade was just what we were expecting and the meat tender. The chicken kebab in particular was quite spectacularly soft and juicy.
For our main courses we ordered a veritable feast. My choice was a Sri Lankan chicken curry (£7.80) . Described as hot like a Madras curry, but with a coconut flavour it ticked a lot of boxes for me.
Sitting on the list of fairly hot curries (on a scale of mild, medium and very hot) I was slightly concerned the spice might get the better of me.
I need not have feared. In fact, if I had been on the hunt for something verging on fiendish I think I would have been disappointed.
I do love a bit of spice. Dinner guests of mine have sometimes voiced a theory I may have deadened my taste buds with my frequent use of chilli as a seasoning. I’m not sure about that, but I wasn’t feeling the heat with this dish.
In fact, our other dish - Chicken Tikka Nashid (£10.70) - marinated meat with special spice, red wine and mango, seemed much hotter.
Regardless, both were very tasty. The Sri Lankan had more of a savoury taste while the chicken tikka was much sweeter.
We shared a side dish of chana (or coconut pilao - £3.50) which was a super accompaniment and was plentiful enough so we did not regret not getting one each.
However, I point blank refuse to share my naan bread. I always consider the pillowy softness to be one of the high points of an Indian meal and quite frankly essential to mop up every last splash of sauce.
I have a bit of a sweet tooth and my favourite is peshwari, stuffed with delectable almonds and sultanas, (£2.80) which I chose on this occasion.
My partner also went for a peshwari option, but chose the thinner chapati bread (£1.60).
The only let down of the evening came at the end of the meal.
Normally at an Indian I wouldn’t bother getting a dessert, but having been handed a menu, my eye was caught by the magical words “mango ice cream”.
It’s one of my favourites, evoking memories of licking cones of the stuff on hot evenings on holiday.
Alas, this did not live up to my expectations. It should have packed a fruity punch but instead was a bit of a muted wet rag.
Meanwhile, the crystallised texture only served to make the pud that little bit more disappointing. The pistachio version, though a very pretty shade of green, was similarly disappointing.
By this stage we were just about ready to roll home so we got our bill, which came to a total of £64.60 for three courses for two, including two beers.
Considering both the quality and quantity of food, we thought the meal was good value.
We were more than happy with the service, which was polite and efficient without being pushy. The food arrived fairly quickly, but we didn’t feel like we were being rushed and we were able to replenish our drinks without waiting too long.
30 Front Street, Framwellgate Moor, DH1 5EE
Tel: 0191 384 3672
Opening times: Lunch by appointment (minimum 15 people); evenings 6-11pm seven days a week.
Ratings (out of ten): Food 8 Atmosphere 7 Value 7 Service 8