I got to know and love Indian cuisine when I moved to the U.K. Before trying Indian food for the first time, I thought that it would be too heavy for my sensitive stomach and too spicy for my non-trained taste buds. I know now that I can adjust the level of spiciness to what tastes good to me, enjoying the taste and aroma of all the delicious spices used, within my comfort zone. There are many curry houses in Newcastle, but my favourite Indian restaurant by far is Simla.
Located on Newcastle’s Quayside area, Simla is a family owned restaurant which first opened in 1981. It recently went through a renovation and reopened with a refreshed, modern look under the management of the original owner’s daughter, Shelly.
Not many restaurants make an impression to you from the time you call to make a reservation but this one does. Whenever I call to book a table, there is always someone very cheerful and polite on the other side of the line making me feel like a V.I.P. and doing their best to accommodate me. And when this is not possible-which unfortunately happens quite often as the place is rather small and popular and the tables get booked up fast-they are so apologetic that my disappointment fades away.
When you walk in the restaurant you feel like you are entering a very warm and relaxing environment which due to its size it gives out a perfect sensation of cosiness and intimacy. The interior decoration of the restaurant is gorgeous, portraying the Indian element in a modern, elegant way and keeping away from any folklore references. Everything from the stunning chandeliers, to the soft lighting and the beautiful paintings are chosen with attention to detail and the big mirrors on the wall are a very clever way to add an effect of extra space.
At the door, you are welcomed by the lovely Shelly. To me, she’s one of the highlights of the restaurant, always smiling and making you feel at home. She’s great at informing the guests about the history of the lace as well as offering great help and advice on the food choices.
Much as I appreciate a restaurant’s atmosphere and interior decoration, food quality is the distinction point that makes a restaurant a great one. And Simla excels in making delicious, heart-warming food. According to Shelly, the Chef specialises in fish and seafood dishes but we are creatures of habit and we usually stick to the same dishes starting with the flavoursome Mango salad and Trio of Chicken Tikka and continuing with the best Chicken Tikka Masala in town and Chicken Karahi paired of course with Naan bread and rice.
The last time we were there with our friends, one of them tried the lamb chops and he reported back that it is also lovely. So we might give it a try next time. (We won’t. We’ll order the exact same things, I’m sure!)
Whenever we have guests visiting as in Newcastle, we make sure to take them to Simla as it’s quality guarantee and never disappoints !Overall, a great dining experience.