323 - 325 Garstang Road, Fulwood, Preston
It’s the restaurant of many changing faces and you’d be forgiven for thinking any venture that opens here seems destined to fail.
Set in a prime location next to the Black Bull pub in Fulwood, it’s been an Indian restaurant, a French and even a Mediterranean, before becoming an Indian again.
Cast your mind back and you might remember it as Curry In A Hurry, Le Frog and Prego.
But no sooner than you’d got used to the new name and sampled the cuisine a few times, the signage would come down, the venue would get a fresh lick of paint and a new eaterie would pop up in its place.
It seemed with the Double Tree Indian Restaurant, the place had finally hit on a winning formula as it had been there for a good few years.
However, the Double Tree which was troubled after immigration raids has now gone and the restaurant has reopened with new owners and a new name – albeit it is still an Indian.
The new owners are at great pains to let people know this is no ordinary Indian restaurant and promise an authentic food experience.
Sai Surbhi’s chef Surinder Rana hails from the northern hills of India and has worked in world class international five star hotels such as the Marriott chain and Bukhara in Bangladesh.
It all sounded encouraging in the literature so we headed there to test it out.
The small car park had plenty of spaces but we were perplexed by a sign in the window stating: “Please park at pharmacy car park”.
But when we went to the adjacent pharmacy car park, we were reluctant to leave our car there as signs warned of clamping.
No matter, we parked on a nearby street and walked to the restaurant still baffled why we couldn’t use the restaurant’s own car park.
On entering, we found the interior to be modern, bright, stylish and tastefully done out with yellow walls, wooden floors and an attractively arranged bar area,
After being seated and served drinks, a polite manager asked if it was our first visit. When we answered in the affirmative, he told us they prided their food on being very different and hoped we’d enjoy it.
The menu is split into vegetarian and non vegetarian starters while you can choose your mains from The Chicken Selection, Lamb From The Chef’s Pan, Seafood Delicacies, Traditional Dishes, Vegetarian Feast and Biryanis.
Between a family of four, we thought one Surbhi Vegetable Platter for Two (£8.95) and one Surbhi Mix Grill for Two (£11.95) would be a great way to sample a variety of starters.
Both platters looked amazing and featured different from the norm delights.
The Mix Grill comprised two large pieces of salmon tikka with the fish delicately flavoured with carom seeds and herbs and marinated with yogurt, two Kesari Jumbo Prawns flavoured with fennel seeds and Kashmiri saffron, succulent pieces of Chicken Tikka marinated with yogurt and turmeric and perfectly spiced minced lamb Seekh Kebabs.
Wow – what can I say? The food was absolutely exquisite and you could taste quality, attention to detail and a balance of flavours in every tantalising mouthful.
Everything on the platter was wonderful with the soft flaky salmon and sizeable and tender King Prawns being particular hits.
The vegetarian platter was no less impressive.
Unlike some cuisines, a vegetarian option at a true Indian is not just a token option for those who don’t eat meat but a mouth-watering and delectable treat bursting with freshness and flavour.
As someone who loves meat, I was taken aback by how much I enjoyed the vegetarian starters. Dare I say as much as if not more than the meat ones..
The veggie platter featured Aloo Tikki, patties of potatoes topped with spicy yogurt and tamarind sauce, Paneer Tikka, chunks of Indian cottage cheese marinated with yogurt and herbs, mushroom pakora, marinated mushrooms dipped in gram flour batter and deep fried and onion bhajis, which were the tastiest I’d ever had with crisp onions and potatoes.
Our expectations were heightened for our main courses - and we weren’t disappointed.
I chose the Saag Chicken (£8.95) with pilau rice (£3.50). This Punjabi special consisted of boneless chicken cooked in spinach and flavoured with ginger, garam masala and fenugreek.
This is a dish I’ve had hundreds of times at different restaurants but was easily the best. Beautifully creamy and spiced at the right level it was packed with an authentic taste and an abundance of flavour. Hubby had the Chicken Biryani (£10.95), chicken cooked with rice with a blend of savoury flavours and served with a lovely sauce.
It was a good sized portion and he said the biryani was flavoursome and the fragrant vegetable curry sauce made it even better.
For the children, we ordered from the Kids Menu after being heartened to find it featured traditional Indian dishes rather than just the usual fried chicken or fish fingers (although it has these too.)
Both our two went for Butter Chicken (£6.95), one with rice and one with chips which they wisely pooled and shared.
The children’s meals were generous portions and they adored their Butter Chicken curry so much, our daughter in particular practically licked the bowl clean.
To mop up our curries, we ordered a Kulcha Naan filled with minced lamb which was nice, but I felt a tad pricey at £3.95.
For those looking for cheap and cheerful curry houses, this isn’t for you as it’s in a completely different league and perfect for true curry connoisseurs.
Yes, the prices may be a little higher than some Indians, but to be honest, I found most of the dishes were priced similarly to other decent Indians.
The food was so glorious, I don’t mind paying a bit more for such sensational quality.
The only criticism of our visit is a real bug bear of mine: the over-priced soft drinks. The Diet Cokes we ordered were £2.75 each for 330ml. Yes, they came in a glass bottle, but you’re still essentially being charged £2.75 for the equivalent of a can of Coke.
This is Preston, not central London.
However, this was the only flaw in an otherwise fantastic food experience.
I discovered “Sai Surbhi” translates as “Mercy of God.”
With such high levels of taste and quality, let’s hope this restaurant is shown mercy and outlives its predecessors by standing the test of time.