When you win the title of The News’ Restaurant of the Year 2018, you know you have set the bar pretty high.
And considering that India Quay only opened its doors six months ago, it’s clear why it has become one of the most talked-about restaurants in Portsmouth.
When it won the annual title – voted for by readers of The News – owner Ru Karim put the success down to ‘good food, a lovely environment’ and ‘a great experience that makes people want to come back for more.’
With higher than normal expectations, the Dish Detective decided to see what all the fuss was about.
The first thing you can guarantee with any Port Solent restaurant is the views. Hardly an original statement I know, but you rarely get bored of the fantastic sight of the marina when you’re sitting down to eat a meal.
The restaurant is on the water level which means from a window table, where myself and my fellow diner ate, you can get a great view of the boats bobbing up and down on the water.
When we walked into the restaurant we were quickly shown to a seat – as it was 6pm on a weekday evening only a few other people were eating.
As is almost traditional at an Indian restaurant, we ordered two poppadoms each which came fairly quickly (80p each), with a range of sauces.
There was the usual array of flavours – mint, mango chutney and salad – but also a coconut garnish.
This sauce was a first for the Dish Detective but it was nice to try something different, and had a good subtle taste to it.
For drinks we ordered a Coke (£2.50) – unfortunately some of us were driving – and a pint of Kingfisher (£5.50).
We perused the menu, and what was clear straight away was that there was less choice available than you might expect from an Indian restaurant.
But although it was a small selection (at least compared to other menus which can often spread across several pages) this is not necessarily a bad thing.
As anyone like me will know, when it comes to restaurant dining it can be easy to get muddled with the wide range of dishes available so it made a nice change to avoid the common panic of choosing a meal.
It should also mean the chefs can better focus on the dishes they can do best – and that certainly was proved true when our meals arrived.
I ordered the chicken korma (£8.95) with side orders of boiled rice (£2.75) and cheese naan (£2.95).
My fellow diner, perhaps looking for something slightly spicier, went for the tandoori mixed grill (£14.95) with the saag paneer (£3.95).
For someone who has had their fair share of chicken kormas this dish had a rich taste, and there was a good amount of meat compared to the amount of sauce.
There was a plentiful supply of cheese naan, with a nice subtle flavour that did not overpower the rest of the meal.
The tandoori mixed grill had a flavoursome range of meats and kebab, and while the saag paneer was a nice accompaniment it could have been made even better with a little more spice.
The staff were very attentive throughout the meal, and our food arrived quickly so we were not left feeling hungry for long.
And with a £46 total bill, India Quay is certainly reasonably priced and is arguably better value for money than some of Portsmouth’s other big name restaurants.
So does India Quay live up to its billing as Portsmouth’s best restaurant?
On this showing, there should not be too much argument.
India Quay, Port Solent (023) 9238 7559
Ratings (out of five)