|There is a point to including this image.|
You'll just have to keep reading to find it.
I've eaten in restaurants that occupy this spot before, but none of them seem to stick around for long. Exotic Dining may well break this trend. It's a bright, fairly small but welcoming and far from cramped Indian restaurant that describes itself as "a nouvelle cuisine of Indian & Fusion". The waiters are polite and friendly, and most of my friends were already seated as the final two of us arrived after a cheeky pint at the nearby and highly recommendable Alexandra Arms.
The menu was unlike that of any Indian restaurant I've eaten in before. Many old favourites were available in the 'Golden Oldies' section - kormas, vindaloos, baltis and the like, as well as some 'English' staples for the really unadventurous - but the bulk of the menu is populated by the Tandoori section, their Exotic Cuisine section (grouped by chicken, lamb, seafood or vegetarian) and their Signature Dishes. You can see each of these menu sections in detail here, but it appears to have changed since these were added to the website as the dish I had on Saturday isn't listed. For the more adventurous, there are dishes available that are based around rabbit and even camel.
For my starter, I had two meat samosas. These were the biggest I've ever seen, and very tasty although a little on the dry side for my preference. As my main course, I had a beef brisket, served in an 'Indian gravy', which was, in my limited understanding of posh food*, much like the sauce I'd expect with a balti. If I believed in such things, I'd say that this course was little short of divine- the beef fell off the bone with the merest coaxing, the sauce was full of flavour and there was plenty of it, and the rice and naan that I ordered as accompaniments were both perfectly cooked.
The dessert menu was much the same as any other Indian restaurant: uninspiring. But you don't go to an Indian for the desserts; indeed, the only real draw on the dessert menu at a standard Indian restaurant was that picture that looked slightly filthy if you looked at it too quickly and with a dirty mind. Alas, that image seems to have disappeared. Nevertheless, I had some mint ice cream encased in a chocolate shell, and I sampled my friend's chocolate torte. Both were basic, obviously bought-in affairs from the same place that seems to supply all Indian restaurant dessert menus, but were edible all the same.
In terms of price, I think the evening came to around £35 per head, although my friends wouldn't let me pay my share (not that I'm complaining). For that, we got a few rounds of drinks and enough food to make even my stomach start to stretch at the seams.
All in all, the service was friendly and helpful, the surroundings were clean and spacious, the drinks were standard, and the food was fantastic. I'd recommend a visit for anyone wanting to try something a little off the beaten track, but with clear signs back to the highway. If you're thinking of going, make sure you book. It wasn't over-populated, but it is quite a small place so it's worth picking up the phone: contact details and opening hours are available on this page.
I really should take photos when I'm thinking of writing a review. Ah well, the photo at the top of this post doesn't show the restaurant, but it does show my birthday present which was given to me and unwrapped at Exotic Dining. So there is a link, see?
* 'Posh' food being anything more advanced than a chip butty.