As soon as we walked into Castle Gate Bar and Restaurant, we were immediately impressed with the new modern décor. It was bright, airy and contemporary; immediately appearing a ‘class above’ the more traditionally decorated Indian restaurants in the county.
We were warmly welcomed at the door by Robi (the manager) and taken to our seats. As we walked through, I was pleased to not only see that social distancing measures were in place, but that this had not done anything to destroy the atmosphere. Yes, tables were spread out, dividers were in place and hand sanitiser was readily available, however none of this was to the detriment of the ambience that regular customers have come to expect at Castle Gate.
After ordering some traditional Asian beers, we ate our poppadoms happily whilst perusing the menu. The selection was varied (without being overwhelming) and I made a mental note to tell my vegan friends about the array of delicious looking choices available. As the staff were so friendly, I asked for their recommendations and soon opted for the Fish Onion Roast followed with the Goa Fish Curry; my husband preferring to go for the Slay The Dragon as a starter and the Lamb Lalucha for main. We then ordered a reasonably priced pinot grigio to accompany the dishes.
Our starters were soon brought out and I was delighted by the delectable presentation. I know appearance isn’t everything when it comes to food, but it was great to see the starters delivered in a way that matched the contemporary feel of this newly refurbished restaurant and echoed the dining experiences being provided in award-winning venues like Mint and Mustard. We quickly tuck in and our taste buds were not disappointed. The Fish Onion Roast, which was made up of fried fillets of white fish marinated with southern spices, was flavoursome and well-seasoned. It melted in my mouth and was a wonderful taste experience. The Slay The Dragon dish, a Mysore delicacy consisting of pineapple flavoured, honey glazed chicken cooked over charcoal in the tandoor, was equally as delicious and the meat was succulent. Both dishes seemed to strike the balance between the modern and authentic Indian dining experience perfectly.
After such a great start, we eagerly awaited the arrival of the main courses. To be honest, I was a little apprehensive. Asides from the Mint and Mustard’s Sea Bass (where the pan fried fish is placed on top of the curry), I had never actually eaten a proper fish curry before. I was unsure what the consistency would be like and I was a bit nervous that it would taste ‘too fishy’ and that I would not be able to enjoy the flavour of the curry itself. It was therefore, with rising trepidation (‘why had I trusted this unknown waiter instead of my own instincts?’) that I took my first mouthful. And quite simply at that point, I was speechless. Despite all my reservations, the Goa Fish Curry was simply scrumptious. Indeed the divine combination of perfectly cooked white fish in a spiced coconut milk on a bed of crushed potatoes and caramelised onions was so moreish that I resented previously agreeing to share it with my other half.
Fortunately, however, this traditional fish curry was not the only appetising item on the table. The peschwari naan and pilau rice were cooked to perfection. Moreover, the succulent lamb (in my husband’s choice of Lamb Lalucha) had been seasoned with an aromatic selection of spices and was tender and succulent. I could see why this (the chef’s own unique recipe) was such a hit as it was a perfectly balanced curry and the meat had clearly been prepared with great skill. Indeed, whilst my preference was the Goa Fish Curry, my husband was adamant that he had ordered the better dish. We have decided to agree to disagree on this one!
So how would I rate our dining experience? Well, to be honest, I don’t think I could give anything other than top marks. The food was more flavoursome, the wine was crisp and light and the atmosphere was fantastic. We’ll definitely be heading back. I mean who needs Cardiff, when we have amazing local restaurants like this on our doorstep?
Disclosure: Robi had kindly offered us our meals for free this evening. However, we will definitely be heading back soon and would be more than happy to pay for these fantastic dishes. We paid for our drinks and found they were reasonably priced.