Restaurant Review: The Italian Orchard, Broughton (Preston)

Italian Orchard Broughton – Consistently Consistent

I’m lucky to have visited The Italian Orchard Broughton at least thirty times; it’s seemingly been around since The Colosseum. The Italian Orchard Broughton’s conservatory is the best dining room in the Preston area: bathed in natural light and framed by cared for colourful flowers, it felt like Asti, not the A6.  Not explicitly reserving a table there constitutes a culinary schoolboy error.

The Italian Orchard Broughton’s menu was overwhelming – the Specials Menu alone was heftier than your average àl la carte. The industrious kitchen must be huge to accommodate the expansive ingredients and cooking processes. Likewise, The Italian Orchard Broughton’s Wine List was almost exclusively Italian and equally vast. It bordered on the expensive side of reasonable, but its mid-price point swelled with a plethora of quaffable options. A notable Sauvignon was selected which offered attractive notes of sage and green pepper, as opposed to the usual passionfruit or gooseberry.

The Bread & Olives were fine and dandy but unremarkable. The Garlic Bread was punchy, salty and comforting as ever. The Oriental Tempura King Prawns were satisfyingly crispy, without suggesting they could ever be greasy. The Calamari was lightly cooked to avoid becoming elastic but consequently lacked colour. The Mare e Monti was an elegant combination of crayfish and prawns in a sophisticated creamy sauce. I rarely plaice place mushrooms with seafood but see no reason not to now.

The Seafood Risotto was generously portioned, providing both quantity and quality. Punctuated with a delicious variety of fresh fishy bits and pieces, including handsome wobbly scallops. The rice was formed with precision, with carefully seasoned stock and attractively served in a crab shell. This was the highlight of the evening and the Italian Orchard’s best value dish. The classic Spaghetti Bolognese had married together well, not disgracing its proud Italian roots, although I could have done without its cress haircut. The Sea Bass was a handsome white hunk, nicely seared, served next to some lovingly prepared baby potatoes.

There was only room for a little gelato; those in the know opt for the Salted Caramel and Black Cherry. Finally, the espresso was as robust as can be found anywhere.

Aside from the initially forgotten Garlic Bread, the Italian Orchard kitchen produced everything strikingly quickly and all on reassuringly hot plates. There was a never-ending flurry of young Italians zipping about in bright white shirts taking care of customers – none of whom laughed at anyone’s pathetic attempts at parlando Italiano. Likewise, I received a proper welcome and goodbye, and someone was always an (olive) stone’s throw away. The Italian Orchard Broughton is a restaurant equally worth visiting for a simple pizza and glass of Motepaolicano to a more formal occasion.

The Italian Orchard Review Summary

Atmosphere 10/10    Cost 6/10    Quality 8/10    Service 9/10

Italian Orchard Restaurant Review Preston

Bread & Olives

Italian Orchard Restaurant Review Preston

Oriental Tempura King Prawns

Italian Orchard Restaurant Review Preston

Garlic Bread

Italian Orchard Restaurant Review Preston

Calamari

Italian Orchard Restaurant Review Preston

Risotto di Frutti di Mare

Italian Orchard Restaurant Review Preston

Spaghetti Bolognese

Italian Orchard Restaurant Review Preston

Mari e Monti

Italian Orchard Restaurant Review Preston

Fillets of Sea Bass

Italian Orchard Restaurant Review Preston

Salted Caramel & Black Cherry Ice Cream

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Bar Review: Stratos, Preston

Stratos Bar – Preston’s Best Cocktails

Stratos is justifiably not a budget bar; nowhere in Preston is as attractively designed and fitted. Drinkers who behave themselves early doors, receive complimentary aperitivos – thanks to Stratos, visitors from Burnley can now recognise tapenade. Plus, nowhere else in Preston is open until 3 am with no entry free, with flesh and blood DJs, not iPods.

Stratos, Kuckoo and Forum are the only progressive bars in Preston shaking quality cocktails. The vast majority are £6.50, contain double premium spirits and often unusual ingredients – this price point is rare in Manchester and extinct in London. If you think Stratos is poor value, get out more. Something masquerades as similar in Yates or Revolution, but is predictably sweet, on a sticky table, in a cheap glass without a garnish, but with a 2005 playlist. Spend another £2 and drink something to enjoy, not something to later vomit.

Stratos’ bar staff unpretentiously graft, pushing Preston kicking and screaming to the next level of boozing. If you drink Cosmopolitans through a straw, think Daiquiris only exist with strawberries, and regard Mojitos as exceptionally exotic, converse with the passionate and knowledgeable Stratos’ bar staff. Likewise, if you’ve had more than your fair share of drams, Stratos staff are always happy to learn more.

The real value of Stratos is their willingness to develop customers tastes for those unaware of the great products available, and the ability to cater for the seasoned drinker. A Preston bar where customers can forfeit a menu entirely, forming a relationship with the staff is progress. Regardless of how manically busy Stratos gets, they will craft drinks to your individual tastes. This level of enthusiasm to learning and promoting cocktails is unmatched, making Stratos the best cocktail bar in Preston. (The food’s not bad either).

Stratos Bar Review Summary

Atmosphere 10/10    Cost 8/10    Quality 9/10    Service 10/10

Stratos Preston Bar Restaurant Review

Stratos – Still Preston’s Best

IMG_2357

Stratos – Still Preston’s Best

Stratos - Still Preston's Best

Stratos – Still Preston’s Best

Stratos - Still Preston's Best

Stratos – Still Preston’s Best

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Restaurant Review: Olive Tree Brasserie, Preston

Olive Tree Brasserie – Failed To Ameze

Located in the Miller Arcade, Preston city centre’s first Greek restaurant thankfully didn’t fall prey to cliché emulsion white ruins and checked tablecloths. The Olive Tree Brasserie’s interior was in fact rather industrial, with exposed metal strip lighting, sharp corners and an attractive polished finish. The contrast between the contemporary interior and Victorian exterior created a sophisticated atmosphere which the area cries out for.

Upon arrival at Olive Tree Brasserie Preston, my party was warmly greeted, and shown to the table through a surprisingly busy dining room. Once seated I was majestically bathed in the green neon of the adjacent Subway; you may want to be savvy and select your preferred table in advance. Never one to resist a bargain, I ordered from the Olive Tree Brasserie’s Early Diner Menu, offering three courses for just £13.50. Although very restricting, it was only to be expected from such a sharp price, and available until a reasonable 7:00 pm (6:45 pm on Friday and Saturday).

Some olives and related nibbles were promptly ordered and arrived very quickly, with the young floor staff continuing to work efficiently throughout the evening. Despite just opening, service at The Olive Tree Brasserie Preston was well organised and polite.

For starters, everyone chose the Dolmades which arrived on miniature pallets for no discernible reason. These three rolled vine leaves, stuffed with rice and minced beef, were the perfect sized starter. They were fresh, delicious but very salty. The extra lemon-dill-cream sauce was pleasingly light and perfectly balanced. Incidentally, their own brand mint-balsamic dressing had an incredible depth of flavour and was liberally applied to everything. A Sauvignon Blanc washed this down with a decent smack of Gooseberry but shrivelled my tongue with brutal tartness.

For mains, the Lavraki sounded intriguing. It was Sea Bass “Spetse Style” – a style not even Google knew about. It arrived looking like it lost a punch up en route to the table. The fish itself was perfectly cooked, with a very salty but at least flavoursome crust. The accompanying Kolokithakia (courgette fritters) were the best thing on the plate. They made for an exciting Mediterranean alternative to chips, which in my head seemed healthier. The sexy Mediterranean cousin of the British mushy peas were the stewed capers, but the last thing salty fish and saltier vegetables needed was the world’s saltiest foodstuff showing off. They were unpalatably bitter and left on the plate. The wine was swapped to Pinot Grigio; overlooking the warm glass, the humble house white had a mineral crispness and was perfectly drinkable.

Friends had the Fishcake & Seasoned Chips and wished they hadn’t. Arriving on a spare cheese board, it was impossible to cut without scattering the contents around the table. The overall flavour of the fishcake was potato rather than fish and equally lacked seasoning. Moving on, the Kota Skordata was a chicken skewer on rice, with dip and a side salad. The meat was nicely marinated, well grilled and succulent. No complaints, but it couldn’t justify its full £13.95 price tag.

Desserts from The Olive Tree Brasserie Preston’s bargain basement menu were an afterthought: generously portioned, but the Berry Compote was so sour only a few mouthfuls could be kept down. Conversely, its partner in crime – the Honey Compote – was so sickly sweet, I saved it for my diabetic brothers’ next hypo.

The ambience and staff were equally pleasant, but the Olive Tree Brasserie Preston’s food demonstrated obvious flaws. However, due to the exceptional early bird prices and positive atmosphere, I can’t hold a grudge.

Olive Tree Brasserie Review Summary

Atmosphere 7/10    Cost 9/10    Quality 3/10    Service 8/10

Olive Tree Brasserie - Menu Lacked Balance

Olive Tree Brasserie – Menu Lacked Balance

Olive Tree Brasserie - Menu Lacked Balance

Olive Tree Brasserie – Menu Lacked Balance

Olive Tree Brasserie - Menu Lacked Balance

Olive Tree Brasserie – Menu Lacked Balance

Olive Tree Brasserie - Menu Lacked Balance

Olive Tree Brasserie – Menu Lacked Balance

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Restaurant Review: Tang KTV, Preston

Tang Restaurant- Never Left Wanton More

I want to like Chinese food, I really do. However, I can’t be cheaply seduced by salt, sugar and bright colours forever. Mercifully, Tang Preston fought against stereotypically luminous Chinese cuisine, with authentic dishes that thankfully did without fortune cookies.

Tang Preston’s vivacious manager Rob brought the restaurant to life: his omnipresence ensured diners were kept happy and his polite team organised. Rob happily elaborated on what was a potentially intimidating menu, covering Dim Sum, Cantonese and Sichuan cuisines. Perhaps the Chicken Feet or Fish Heads won’t tempt, but take his advice and break free from self-imposed Sweet N Sour Chicken prison. Tang Preston had a broader ingredient list than any local Chinese restaurant – don’t waste the opportunity for exploration

Regarding atmosphere, Tang Preston had a sparse philosophy to interior design. The PowerPoint menu presentation seemed unnecessary. Call me old fashioned, but I can do without rotating images of stomach and intestines – a humble Specials Board would suffice. More importantly, Tang Preston was spotlessly clean and populated by the local Chinese contingent, suggesting an authentic kitchen.

The Hot & Sour Soup was rich and thick, a little gloopy, but I found that strangely comforting. Is dipping prawn crackers into soup poor etiquette? Regardless, I was a Pavlovian dog to the sound of them sensually sizzling. It was packed with vinegary, peppery flavours that did me good. However, the vegetables were flaccid, not crunchy; thus, the dish lacked texture.

The Deep Fried Aubergines with their fluffy centres and crispy skins were so moreish they should be criminalised. The salty, chilli crumby bits were fiercely fought over and the best thing in the restaurant. They made a great alternative to chips, although weren’t any healthier.

The oddly named Char Siu Honey Roast were porky clouds, without an equivalent in British cuisine. They had a spongecake-like texture, punctuated by bits of bacon. The aubergines I could’ve eaten until my heart stopped or the restaurant closed. However, the Char Siu were deceptively filling, and prohibitively sweet to stop me from wanting more than a couple.

As with everything at Tang Preston, the Duck Chow Mein was very generously proportioned. I would have liked to have traded a bit more duck for loads fewer noodles, as there was a daunting amount. The duck itself was well cooked, while the Chow Mein had a good selection of lightly cooked vegetables Peking peeking out. Like a Thai Massage, I found the dish oily, but certainly enjoyable. It provided 3,000% of my RDA of MSG, but hey, it was the weekend. A Chicken Curry dish didn’t fare quite so well, offering more salt than chicken.

If anyone eats: Soup, Dim Sum, the main course and then asks for the dessert menu, lock them up as a menace to society. Tang Preston can’t sell more than two hundred desserts a year – there just aren’t enough morbidly obese people in waddling distance. Tang Preston is a small, industrious restaurant, providing warm welcomes, generous portions, an interesting menu in a casual atmosphere – try it out.

Tang Review Summary

Atmosphere 5/10    Cost 9/10    Quality 7/10    Service 8/10

Tang Preston Restaurant Review

Hot & Sour Soup – tastes better than it looks

Tang Preston Restaurant Review

Char Siu Honey Roast

Tang Preston Restaurant Review

Deep Fried Chilli Aubergines

Tang Preston Restaurant Review

An XXL Chow Mein

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Restaurant Review: Langs of Longton, Longton

Langs of Longton – Never Dissapoints

I was comfortably seated in Langs of Longton bar-come-quarantine area, overlooked by an imposing television, bizarrely playing a muted David Jason rerun (sadly not Danger Mouse). I assumed the silent flashing images kept the more docile Longton diners amused during busy periods.

The Langs of Longton décor and ambience needed work: the generous littering of bold red flowers, sharp monochrome furniture and harsh black finishes appealed only to Cruella De Vil. Fangs would be more appropriate sign above the door. I could live with the interior design if it were consistent, but part vaudeville, part Ikea, mixed vertical stripes, patterned carpets, canvases a la Changing Rooms circa 1999 and contemporary lighting was restaurant schizophrenia.

A stocky bold gentleman, ‘Ross Kemp on Langs‘, orchestrated the service efficiently. He was charmingly on first name terms with most of The Langs of Longton diners – a reassuring sign of happy clientele. I was lead to the thoughtfully laid out large dining room, with a partially open kitchen providing a vibrancy to the restaurant.

Slurping the Las Valles (Spanish house red), trying to recognise the supposed ‘intense fruit on the palate’, I eyed the window ledges lined with promotional bottles of sealed but empty champagne bottles. The decorations reminded diners that yes – don’t take our word for it – champagne is sold here. I had flashbacks of student filled Plungington, Fallowfield and Wavertree and proudly displayed Jack Daniels bottles and pyramids of Carlsberg empties.

Enough chit-chat and on to the food: it was all excellent and presented beautifully. The black pudding – tragically never the belle of the ball – looked as good as it ever could. The streak of vibrant sweet potato was attractively set against a warm black slate; it was hearty without being stodgy, perfectly seasoned and cooked. The fishcakes had a great balance of flavours and kept their texture admirably. The gammon was generously portioned and attractively presented; perhaps not carrying a huge depth of flavour, but certainly succulent and tasty. The homemade ketchup, poached egg, chunky chips, wilted greens and mustard cream were all greedily but gratefully shovelled in. The beer battered haddock goujons with peas à la français, tartare sauce, skinny chips, was thankfully grease-free and wolfed down. The sushi was carefully prepared and pretty as a proverbial. The assiette of desserts was unusual and charming. Deserts shouldn’t take themselves too seriously, (leave that to the starters), and this had a welcome fun element.

The Langs of Longton kitchen was very big on miniature stuff. Almost every dish had an obligatory small thing, to make you scrunch your cheeks up and feel broody. Want chips? There’s a miniature chip pan for that sir! Any vegetable sides? Use the dwarf sized copper-pots! Serving a risotto? No fear, the micro skillet is here! Coulis Madam? Got it: shot glass! What isn’t miniature are the portions. After three courses I didn’t feel so much full but heavily pregnant. I had meat-sweat hallucinations of Langs of Longton morphing into a maternity ward, which I felt strangely grateful for.

Langs of Longton provided slap-up dinners (whatever that means), at reasonable prices. There are few restaurants that compete with Langs of Longton for value, especially considering their high quality of cooking, across a surprising range of dishes. The décor wasn’t my cup of tea, but the friendly organised service and attention to detail on the plate (or slate) certainly was.

Bravo!

Langs of Longton Review Summary

Atmosphere 6/10    Cost 10/10    Quality 8/10    Service 9/10

Langs of Longton Restaurant Review

Langs, Preston – Great Value

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Restaurant Review: Pond, Preston

Pond – Licensed To Grill

Pond is a mid-sized independent tapas Preston restaurant, with a homely and distinctive feel. Some may think its bold, warm colours are intimate; others would say enclosing – either way, Pond had character.

Pond’s menu was extensive and all sounded delicious. Diners were spoilt for choice,  yet the menu held itself together enough not to disorientate. Pond provided unusual choices, which kept a potentially tired format interesting. Most of the food was very good and was all presented attractively; however, it got carried away with itself in places as the ‘Chicken – Raspberry Pepper’ sounded exciting but had no balance of flavour. I may as well have had a bowl of raspberries. The benchmark for any tapas restaurant is their chorizo; Pond’s sticky chorizo was very generously portioned and didn’t hold back on the chilli. Having tried most of the menu (in a large group), the standout dish was the ‘Luv a duk’, with an incredible depth of flavour. This brought a smile to all who were wise enough to try it. The chilli chocolate ice cream was an interesting way to finish a meal; not for everyone, but certainly a talking point. A leper could count on one hand the number of restaurants that offer memorable dishes in Preston City Centre – this was one of them.

Given the high-quality ingredients and healthy portion sizes, Pond offered average value for tapas in Preston, although being charged for tap water (despite ordering various bottles of wine) seemed below the belt.

Pond’s staff were welcoming but slightly confused by the order. Nor was there the capacity to discuss the food in any regard – the hallmark of good service. I requested Sangria, which although not on the menu, was presumed unchallenging for a tapas restaurant. I can only assume this was the servers first weak attempt at such an exotic concoction.

Pond’s food was sluggish to appear, not a massive issue, but the concept of tapas is to order little and often, not hungrily wait for everything to arrive together. Frustrating as one is forced to wolf down the food while it’s still hot, rather than enjoy the flavours to their full potential.

Overall Pond is a characterful restaurant with some proper cooking going on. It provided an intimate atmosphere and great flavours. Something that Preston city centre is in short supply of.

Pond Review Summary

Atmosphere 8/10    Cost 6/10    Quality 8/10    Service 5/10

Duk Preston Restaurant Review

Porky Goodness

Duk Preston Restaurant Review

Cheesy Goodness

*Since this review was first published, Pond is unfortunately no longer with us – hence the lack of link*

Restaurant Review: The Shampan, Preston

The Shampan Didn’t Curry Favour

In the most fantastic piece of PR hyperbole ever witnessed, The Shampan Preston promised a ‘zen like atmosphere’. Last time I sat under gaudy neon, watching giant TVs playing hypnotic music I waited for lap dances, not a Chicken Tikka Masalas. I have visited on various occasions, and more than once the staff were comically rude and void of rapport. My all time favourite example was a Shampan Preston’s server abruptly

I’ve visited The Shampan Preston many times, usually, the staff were comically rude and void of rapport. My personal favourite demonstration was a server abruptly stopping in his tracks, cartoonishly double taking, and with a broad smile, zealously proclaimed my partner looked like ‘Ugly Betty’ – the ensuing awkward silence was suffocating.

I have thick skin and a nose for a bargain, so keep crawling back. The Shampan Preston’s Early Bird Menu offers fantastic value, guaranteeing a decent meal for cheaper than I can cook myself, minus the hassle.

The poppadums, sundries and starters were uninspiring but perfectly edible. If used in conjunction with The Shampan Preston’s Early Bird offer, they’re basically free. If you like food that is so hot it makes you cry, go for Chicken Naga Naga. It’s the highlight of The Shampan Preston’s menu, saturated with flavour and full of married together oomph. There is something to be said for eating a meal that doesn’t leave you painfully leaking from every orifice; if you don’t enjoy the exhilaration of inflamed stomach lining and trachea, the Nepali Chicken is a tasty, sensible choice. The Classic Favourites are fine but forgettable, the Madras being particularly flavourless. The side portions and bread were generously portioned, moreish and fabulously unhealthy. The Shampan Preston’s drinks were pricey, but with the Early Bird Menu being so inexpensive, this was no cause for alarm.

The Shampan Preston is not designed for romance but is a great value midweek eatery for chilli-heads looking for speedy service and lots of choices.

The Shampan Review Summary

Atmosphere 2/10    Cost 10/10    Quality 6/10    Service 2/10

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Restaurant Review: Duk, Preston

Dinner Was A Lame Duk

I initially made a booking for the charming Pond (Duk’s sister restaurant), but without explanation, the reservation was overlooked, and I was redirected to Duk. Having previously been impressed by Pond, I didn’t cause a fuss as I expected a similar quality dining experience.

Duk is one square basement room accessed by a dark staircase – a claustrophobic mustard cube. It should have been easy for the staff to see diners, and manage the small number of tables. Despite being the largest table booked, nobody was on hand to greet or advise our party where to sit, creating an unwelcoming impression. There was just one menu between two tables, but weirdly coffee menus for all. I waited fifteen minutes for acknowledgement, before getting up and communicating the entire drinks order directly at the bar. There was also a lack of information, as the drinks menu provided no indication of what wines were available by the glass, the size of the glass and their respective prices. Two of the diners ordered white wine: one arrived warm, the other incorrectly poured.

Rather than individual plates or in bowls, Duk’s tapas came in a strange system of three bowls shaped into one ceramic form. This arrangement was completely impractical as whatever I ordered, was attached to someone else’s choice twelve feet away. We ate the entire meal from one small saucer, which forced residual flavours to mix that had no business together. Nobody asked if we wanted further drinks or food, frustrating as one item never materialised. The whole concept of tapas is people order little and often – something completely impossible at Duk. After everyone had finished, we wanted more, but after fifteen minutes of obviously nobody chewing, we gave up. When I got up to ask for a dessert menu, I was told there was only two deserts: “Churros and a collection of confectionery”. I enquired into what constituted a collection of confectionery and was reliably informed it was a “mixture”. How helpful.

At least the menu was diverse and exciting, and everything certainly sounded appetising. High-quality ingredients were used throughout but often lacked execution, as the kitchen’s output was a mixed bag. The Chorizo was rich and delicious, but the Pigs Cheek was incredibly tough. Some excellent cheese made a welcome appearance.  The wine was decent but not cheap.

This poor evening was largely in part due to a shortage of staff, on another day a better experience is likely to be had, but it ‘s hard to justify a return to Duk.

Duk Review Summary

Atmosphere 4/10    Cost 5/10    Quality 6/10    Service 1/10

*Since this review was first published, Duk is unfortunately no longer with us –   hence the lack of link*

Restaurant Review: The Red Cat Restaurant, Chorley

The Red Cat – Far From Purrfect

I was warmly welcomed into The Red Cat Chorley and browsed the menus in a perfectly clean, but ultimately uninspiring bar area. The cocktails were expensive (for Chorley) averaging £9. It’s an amount I’m prepared to pay, but their constituent spirits were not premium products, making them unjustifiable. Instead, I opted for the lowest priced – but still relatively expensive red wine  – which was undrinkable. The bottle of wine cost less than the price of the glass; if not The Red Cat Chorley was ripped-off. I should have taken it back, but I was too awkwardly British. A friend ordered a Coke, which arrived ¾ full in a tacky Coca-Cola branded glass. No big deal, but The Red Cat Chorley asked £30 for some mains.

I went on the proviso of the limited but reasonably priced, ‘Red Cat Market Menu’, boasting three courses for £22.50. Although very restrictive, I eagerly looked forward to trying the risotto with black pudding and chicken with tarragon tagliatelle for the first time. Disappointingly, the risotto served was the standard mushroom issue, and the unusual tarragon tagliatelle was amended to tarragon mash. Appetising none of the less, but not quite the novel experience the Red Cat Chorley promised.

Once seated I was promptly given a complimentary crostini and fresh miniature loaves, which were quirky and lovely in equal measure. The mushroom risotto was cooked perfectly, very well seasoned and presented beautifully (often a challenge for risotto); however, the portion size was minuscule. I appreciate The Red Cat Chorley was not an all-you-can-eat buffet, but a slightly bigger serving would’ve cost 20p. Despite savouring the flavours, it was eaten in less than ten seconds. If I had eaten each grain with chopsticks – contemplating each molecule of flavour – it would have taken two minutes. For the main course, the chicken was succulent and delicious, and the mash was creamy and rich. It was all good stuff, but not a great deal of it: it cried out for baby carrots or grilled vegetables either as standard or recommended. The dessert of Panna Cotta was a stunning dish, perfectly balanced and presented with care and sophistication. Panna Cotta is all about the wobble factor – this was bootylicious.

A serious gripe was during coffees, The Red Cat bar was so cold we had our coats on, huddled together like penguins (the flightless bird, not the chocolate covered biscuit). A final issue was The Red Cat Chorley standard a 10% service charge not advised on the menu.

The Red Cat Review Summary

Atmosphere 6/10    Cost 7/10    Service 8/10    Quality 7/10

*Since this review was first published, The Red Cat is unfortunately no longer with us -hence the lack of link*

Restaurant Review: Kashti, Preston

Kashti Restaurant – Curry Not In A Hurry

I have previously dined in Broadgate’s Kashti on previous occasions and been impressed with the food relative to its reasonable price point. Although I fell off my chair in hysterics as one TripAdvisor reporter advised Kashti provided the: “Best Curry In England”. I can categorically advise this is bollocks.

Like most Indian restaurants, Kashti suffered from the delusion that the more complicated the menu, the better it is. Twenty-eight starters, ‘Traditional Favourites’, ‘Classic Favourites’, an ‘Early Bird Menu’ available practically 24/7, combined with ‘Set Meal’ options and ‘Half Price Food’ all await the bamboozled bargain baji hunter.

The big issue was that despite booking, the kitchen seemed stunned this would entail producing anything. It took forty-five minutes not for the meal to arrive, but just for someone to take the food order. If I’d have known, I’d have brought a packed lunch. Two and a half hours later after arrival, the main courses were served, then unceremoniously wolfed down in five minutes by the ravaged crowd. Not only did the kitchen smash the previous world record for the World’s Slowest Curry, but it all frustratingly arrived in drips and drabs.

Firstly the plates, five minutes later the bread, five minutes after that the rice – as though this carefully staggered arrangement was the preferred way to eat curry. This sea of empty of plates, without any explanation for the lack of anything edible, was the culinary adaptation of The Emperor’s New Clothes. The first couple of dishes arrived, diners waiting politely for ten minutes for the rest to follow, gave in to hunger and ate awkwardly in defeat. Some had finished, smoked a cigarette and still had twenty minutes before other’s food materialised. I could have driven from Preston to Manchester, popped in at Tesco, prepared a Chicken Madras from scratch and served it quicker.

Not only that but the restaurant ran out of draught lager; I don’t need alcohol to have fun, but how can a supposed city centre Indian restaurant run out of all drought on a Saturday night? It’s not as though there was a tempting wine list instead. The starving hoard’s spirits were only kept alive by the broken promise of beer. When this turned out to be a mirage, morale sunk to rock bottom.

What made this painful situation explode off the Richter scale of embarrassment was the Kashti manager’s insistence on photographing everybody. There’s a reason you don’t see overstretched doctors taking selfies of bleeding patients waiting in A&E. Why he wanted to document his diners with plates devoid of curry was beyond me.

Regarding the food, the poppadum and sundries were of low quality but almost free, thus difficult to criticise. The starter of the Shami Kebab was light and tasty, with no great depth of flavour but well cooked nevertheless. The Chicken Vindaloo consisted of literally six pieces of chicken, drowned in a bowl of exceptionally thin sauce. The dish had flavour but was not as fiery as its proceeding reputation, and ultimately it was hard to get excited over six pieces of chicken. The Vegetable Rice provided a welcome upgrade from boring basmati, while the Chilli Naan was thankfully grease-free. The Chicken Gurkali was tender and bathed in an exotic mix of whole spices. This Nepalese dish was ideal for those who like heat without melting their minds. The Handi Chicken was handily cooked in its saucepan and provided a flavoursome but more sedate option.

For the sake of your sanity, avoid Kashti Indian Restaurant for group bookings.

Kashti Review Summary

Atmosphere 1/10    Cost 10/10    Quality 4/10    Service 1/10

*Since this review was first published, Kashti in Preston is unfortunately no longer with us – hence the lack of link*