Croxdale Inn is now an Indian landmark says, Lizzie Anderson

YOU know you have been to a really good restaurant when the next day you find yourself staring wistfully into the distance, daydreaming about the delicious dishes you sampled the night before. This was the case when my colleague Duncan and I dined at Penash, in Croxdale. On numerous occasions since, I’ve found myself smiling while recalling the flavoursome fare the Indian restaurant served.

Located at the Croxdale Inn, Penash opened in January and offers a large but not overwhelming menu. When we arrived, shortly after 6pm on a Monday night, the restaurant was quiet, most likely because of the time. We were greeted at the bar by the friendly owner who guided us through to the separate dining area.

The restaurant boasts a smart decor with deep purple walls and napkins, crisp white table cloths and tall leather chairs, which are very comfortable. The walls are adorned with pictures of Indian landmarks and festivals, while traditional music created a relax atmosphere.

Once we were settled at the table, the waiter handed us menus and took our drinks order.

Having already studied the menu online before we set off, we were ready with our food order by the time he returned.

I love Indian food and like to try as many different dishes as possible. However, past experiences have shown my eyes are bigger than my stomach. Usually, I am full by the time the main course arrives.

So on this occasion we decided to skip starters and simply have poppadoms and dips (75p) followed by our choice of curries.

Duncan opted for butter chicken, a mild creamy curry featuring a rich blend of spices (£7.95).

I chose dal ghost, comprising tender pieces of boneless lamb cooked with lentils, onions, ginger and spices (£7.95). To accompany the curry, we decided to share egg fried rice (£3.25), a keema naan (£3.75) and a portion of Bombay aloo, which features potatoes stir-fried with onion, garlic and ginger, in a tomato curry sauce (£4.95).

After about five minutes, our waiter returned with a basket of poppadoms and a selection of dips served in small white pots. He was especially keen for our thoughts on the mint sauce, which was made using fresh herbs from his garden.

“Delicious,” we both enthused. Packed with flavour, it had a wonderful minty tang but lacked the unpleasant vinegary aftertaste you often get with such sauces.

We also received a sweet chilli dip, mango chutney and yoghurt, all of which were equally tasty.

All food is prepared to order and, on the menu, diners are told to expect a wait of up to 30 or 40 minutes. However, within ten minutes of our poppodom plates being cleared, the waiter returned with our main courses – also served in modern white pottery.

The Northern Echo:

All conversation now stopped as Duncan and I tucked into what was arguably one of the best Indian meals I have ever tasted. The curries were fresh, colourful and packed full of flavour. Duncan’s butter chicken was creamy but not too heavy, while the lentils and tender lamb chunks in my dal ghost proved a winning combination. Our curries were not greasy either, meaning I did not experience the guilt I often feel when I eat an Indian meal.

The accompaniments were also delicious and the portion sizes were just right – there is nothing worse than being physically unable to finish the mouth-watering dishes in front of you.

I was too full for dessert but Duncan was tempted by the rather regal-sounding chocolate crunchy pyramid (£4.50). This boasted a rich chocolate mousse centre and hazelnut praline chocolate truffle, dusted with cocoa on a chocolate sponge base. It was nice without being spectacular.

The service in Penash was excellent and, at £39.70, it was good value for money.

I shall return.


Food Quality: 4/5

Service: 4/5

Surroundings: 3/5

Value: 4/5