Dean Bailey ditches the new kids on the block in favour of a Newcastle institution
A confession, dear reader; I had never been to Sachins – a Newcastle legend in its own lunchtime – before venturing forth to do this review.
My problem is, I’m easily distracted by new things, and with some 20 new restaurants opening in Newcastle in the last 12 months, many of them claiming to have reinvented, well, everything, there have been a lot of distractions.
But, under the direction of our good lady editor, who called me what I’ll paraphrase as a ‘numpty’ for having never visited one of the city’s most successful restaurants of the last 30 years, it’s time to break the cycle.
And having flitted about so much in the last few months, there’s a lot of good things to say about the city’s food scene, and some not so good. Firstly, the lack of proper plates, which I do miss when I’m fighting to keep my dinner on a chopping board. At Sachins, there’s no need to distract from the excellent food, so plates are reassuringly present.
My limited experience tells me that if you’re visiting for the first time, put yourself in the hands of the chef and start with his selections from the tandoori, from the historic lamb and chicken kebabs, to the powerful peshwari murgh tikka, to the succulent seekh kebab.
Put yourself also in the capable hands of your waiter, because in addition to the food, Sachins is also notable for its success in employing staff who really know what they’re serving.
Ours is more than happy to chat, talk us through each course as it arrives and guide us toward excellent choices which include murgh makhani, medium-spiced chicken curry, and karahi goshat, diced lamb in Punjabi spices served with an aromatic pulao with mustard seeds and curry leaves, and an excellent peshwari nan.
The lamb is the standout, blessed with big spices and an onion and tomato sauce, its memory will live long – while special mention goes to the pecan and caramel-topped honey pot – the vanilla ice cream and caramel a perfect finish to a night of big spices.
Sachins, I’m told by its many regulars, is consistently good, which is why it’s packed on a stormy Thursday night. There’s also always someone here you know, which is why so many of the people who have followed us through the door tonight have been greeted as old friends – because so many of them are.
It stays at the top of the city’s food scene – without gimmicks, or each dish having its own hashtag – because it is always good, and while I’ll still be distracted by a shiny newcomer declaring it has reinvented something or other, I have learned that there are times you really need a stalwart which delivers across the board, rather than on one.
Forth Banks, Newcastle, NE1 3SG, tel 0191 232 4660 www.sachins.co.uk