Featured Restaurant: Coriander

20th October 2017

282 Uxbridge Rd • Hatch End • Pinner • 020 8428 8166

Reviewed by Lisa Botwright

It’s Saturday night and the high street is packed. I have to sidestep a group of lads clutching their Coriander takeaway bags to enter this Indian eaterie, and, once inside, I find it’s buzzing. It’s clearly a popular option for the local community, and with so many great restaurants in the area, my expectations are high.

But wait, am I in a wine bar? There’s a lot of funky coloured lighting, a black shiny floor just made for dancing, and an elevated area for tables and chairs. (Later, when I nip to the loo, I’m entranced by a dazzling water-feature effect that wouldn’t look out of place at a West End nightclub.) There’s even a full cocktail menu.

I soon learn, however, that though Coriander may have the aesthetic of a wine bar, it has the heart and soul of a restaurant. With delicious smells emanating from the kitchen, we take our seats in ravenous anticipation and soak up a menu that’s full of Anglo-Indian classics, and – I’m pleased to see – a few surprises too within a ‘Signature Dishes’ section.

The husband (TH) and I go all-out pescatarian for starters, impressed by the choice of fish and seafood on the menu. I half-expect my Salmon Tikka to be served on a sizzling platter, but it arrives looking serenely elegant atop a large portion of fresh salad, on a white rectangular dish. Across the table, TH’s choice of King Prawn Puri looks equally refined – no mean feat for a dish that includes a deep-fried chapati. My fish is cooked perfectly and the spices dance on my tongue; meanwhile, TH is gushing over the volume and tenderness of the huge prawns enveloped within his Puri, which, he tells me, have a delicious kick without being overpowered by the chilli and garlic.

I’m a big fan of Indian food, but I’ve never yet tried either of our chosen mains: Sea Bass Bahar and Shahi Lamb. They’re good choices. The lamb is meltingly tender – it must have been cooking for hours – and the sauce is deliciously creamy without being overly sweet, balanced with yoghurt and a savoury-sour hint of tamarind. The fish comes in a deep dish covered with a thick, intense, tomato-based sauce that I push at gently with my fork to reveal two white plump fillets of sea bass. It’s gorgeous. Both are garnished with lime and coriander, and the fresh citrusy flavours lift the dishes perfectly.

Our side dish of Vegetable Bahar is delicious too. I’ve tasted some disappointing vegetable curries before, where the ingredients have disintegrated into a mushy mess, but this is a revelation. Each individual vegetable is cooked to perfection: the cauliflower, for example, retains its bite; the aubergines are sweet and sticky. The Peshwari Nan bread arrives sizzling hot, looking not unlike an Italian thin and crispy pizza, but with tastier spices. It could be a meal in its own right. I’m sure I’ve heard that, at the weekend, calories from carbs don’t count, right?

Nor from desserts. Oh well, in for a penny and all that, I think, as I choose the most decadent dish on the menu. A circle of rich Chocolate Fudge Pudding is placed before me, artfully drizzled with chocolate sauce, and with a tiny jug of cream on the side. It’s hot. It’s very good. And then with a nod to the cocktail menu, TH chooses a Piña Colada-inspired sweet, full of coconut ice-cream, fresh pineapple and chocolate flakes: so refreshing after the heat of the spices we’ve relished so far.

I reflect that Coriander is a great name for this restaurant: its namesake herb is a perfect metaphor for the little flourishes and attention to detail that add up to make our visit so enjoyable.

Find Your Local