Some things are so much a part of the city, they become essential to the fabric of Newcastle; Fenwick department store, the Northern Goldsmiths’ clock, Sachins on Forth Banks, for instance.
For more than 30 years, Sachins has been the city’s home of Punjabi cuisine. For 20 of those years, Bob Arora has been at the helm, and there’s something about walking through Sachins’ famous doors to be greeted with typical good cheer by Bob which makes you feel very at home.
Whoever you talk to about Sachins, the thing that always comes up is Bob and his front-of-house team’s talent for making this place a home from home. Scores of its regulars have been coming for years, their easy familiarity creating one of the best atmospheres in the city. Even on a wet Wednesday in January, the place is buzzing, the conversation bouncing between tables as diners share their thoughts on everything from Brexit to biriyani.
The service is relaxed and expert in perfect measure. The guys know their stuff and, for many in the room, they also seem to know the orders.
But while sticking to your favourite can be a safe option, being in the hands of a talented team rewards exploration. On our visit, a new starter of Gunpowder Chicken is highly recommended for its spiced, crisp battered chicken matched with yoghurt and pomegranate seeds. Meanwhile, Fish Tikka from the tandoor delivers big, meaty chunks of monkfish swathed in bold flavours for a warming wake-up call on a cold January night.
While it confuses some, including me, choosing a great curry isn’t difficult here. Ours are selected to complement one another – a fruity Lamb Pasanda with lamb and sweet mango flavours and a bold Murgh Kashmiri, its complex, drier heat set off by those humble stables of subcontinental cookery, tomatoes and onions, so sublime in themselves that they stay fresh in the memory for days to come.
It’s easy to see why the place is full of regulars. The team have honed their craft as well as any in the North East. The atmosphere is exactly what you want from a restaurant with 30 years of experience, and each visit is an occasion, any night of the week. Like a book or film you go back to time and again, Sachins is essential. Our poppadoms, starters, curries, rice and naans come to around £50 for two, plus drinks. While there are many new places to eat in Newcastle, Sachins endures. It’s part of the fabric of the city, after all…
Sachins, Forth Banks, Newcastle, NE1 3SG, tel 0191 232 4660, www.sachins.co.uk