Indian Ark is the new kid on the block in a crowded curry scene in Kenilworth. They first came to my attention at the farmers market at the start of Foodie Fortnight. At a great event which linked the towns food producers, retailers and restaurants they had a stall selling takeaway food and what we bought was excellent. This was my first visit to the restaurant.
The decor is smart and modern and the table have the modern vogue of no tablecloths. The staff immediately make an impact by being welcoming and attentive.
The menu is a combination of traditional favourites and house specials as most curry houses are. It is extensive but there are four or five house special dishes for each of lamb, chicken, duck, king prawn, vegetable and fish – more of this later.
We started with poppadums and the pickle tray. In my experience this is often an indicator of where the rest of the meal is going. The quality of raita and the range of pickles says a lot. I’ve been to plenty of restaurants with the same old bought-in mango chutney, hot chopped onions, bought-in lime pickle and a gravy bought of tired yellow raita. The tray here had a nice selection but the superstar was some homemade piccalilli which had some wonderful crunch to it. I don’t think I’ve ever had piccalilli in the pickle tray but its such an obvious addition.
Although there were some fascinating options we skipped the starters and went straight for mains. My wife has a thing for chicken stuffed with lamb mince. Its called different things but here the Murgh Bharwan did the trick. It was described as a chicken roulade in a marsala sauce. It can be very rich and heavy but this was superb. The chicken was moist and wasn’t overpowered by the stuffing.
I ordered a king prawn special – Tandoori Chingri Silsila. It was described as cooked with sweet potato, courgette and beans, served with dhal and spicy sweet corn rice. I ordered a naan bread but the waiter suggested I wouldn’t need it as the rice was with the dish. I took his advice. Its not pleasant to load up with a heavy meal of stodge – its one of the reasons I’m less into curry than I used to. I have tried myself to find a lighter option or end up just having the tandoori mixed grill. What arrived was beautifully presented. The tandoori butterflied prawns were fabulously tasty on their own but they went really well with a pineapple and mango salsa. The dhal was beautifully fresh and not too sweet. the rice was a fried rice with some real bite (texture not heat) to it. The vegetables were a nice balanced accompaniment. I loved it and it is probably one of the top five dishes I’ve had in an Indian restaurant in my thirty years of research. What we liked when we had the takeaway in Talisman square was the real home-cooked flavour and feel and this still comes through in the food.
I never have a dessert – normally because I’m either too full or because the options are a tatty selection of frozen bought-in nonsense. Its a shame because Indian desserts can be fabulous if fattening. Through not having a naan I had room to try one of the homemade desserts and I had some kheer. This was a well cooked rice pudding that was nicely scented without too much sweetness. It was sat on a puddle of what seemed like either concentrated condensed milk or white chocolate sauce – very sweet – and a ball of passion fruit ice cream. It was a really nice combination and, again, in a sensible portion size. I walked away pleasantly full.
One other pet hate is restaurants which don’t serve alcohol-free lager in this day and age. It was nice to see Becks Blue on the drinks menu – along with Cobra Zero I think its the best around.
I loved Indian Ark and will definitely be back. I couldn’t fault the food or service. It’s not the cheapest in town but its definitely the best. Our meal with drinks came to just over £50.