Dinner review: Dabbawal – Hello, my old friend

Dean Bailey comes to talk with Dabbawal, Jesmond – again

Dabbawal’s Jesmond kitchen is one of the best restaurant spaces in the region – a special place which instantly sets you at ease with a buzzing, casual atmosphere, quirky features that make it truly unique and, when the sun is shining, a great outdoor space just off Brentwood Avenue in one of the hottest postcodes in Newcastle.

The bright colours, fantastic service and that buzz you find even when the restaurant isn’t full to capacity is why Dabbawal has been named the UK’s Best Causal Dining Restaurant at the British Curry Awards three years in a row, and why we come back here every time we want to guarantee a first-class night out and a unique dining experience.

Dabbawal brought the street food of the subcontinent to the North East in 2011 and today its two restaurants remain incredibly popular with street food an essential part of the experience.

Roast sweet potato dressed in sweet, creamy sauces and topped with little explosions of pomegranate seeds is a delight alongside creamy paneer and spinach, poppadoms and an exceptional mango chutney.

Bhel puri – puffed rice and potato sev tossed with onion and pomegranate seeds – is as essential a part of any evening here as Bombay lemonade, a soft drink turned up to 11 on the style scale. 

Cocktails, each perfectly paired with the rich, bold flavours of the menu, are also key, the Dabbawal Martini offering a perfect hit of raspberry sweetness and the Kaffir Lime Cosmopolitan proving an excellent choice to finish the evening with lemon vodka, Cointreau and cranberry juice.

While street food makes Dabbawal stand out from the crowd, classic curries from across the subcontinent make plenty of noise too. 

Railway Lamb Curry – a dish from the Anglo-Indian era – is a classic. Rich and complex with mustard seed and curry leaf alongside coconut, the lamb and new potatoes burst with flavour and gentle heat. Meanwhile, Murgh Tikka Makhani Masala is milder still, though no less flavour-packed with a tomato and cream base perfect for gathering up with naan, roti and rice.

Dinner for two with drinks will range from around £50, depending on your choice of starters/streetfood and drinks.

Dabbawal remains an essential part of the North East food curriculum and is rightly among the UK’s finest dining experiences – visit regularly and welcome the occasion like an old friend.

Dabbawal, 1 Brentwood Mews Jesmond, NE2 3DG, tel 0191 281 2111, www.dabbawal.com

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