This week my mother Yvonne and my father Dry Tony accompanied me to the Silk Route restaurant as part of a series of visits to the best and worst restaurants in the city according to TripAdvisor.Advertisement
Located just on the edge of the city centre in Strand Road, it is the seventh highest rated in Preston, with customers referring to it as “a gem of a place,” and “the Northwest’s finest Indian restaurant”. It has the highest rating of any Indian restaurant in Preston.
Our table was booked for 7pm, and we found a parking space easily. Entering the large, open plan restaurant we were immediately greeted by friendly staff and seated at a table in the middle of the restaurant.
Looking around, there were only four tables occupied, but there was still a relaxed, upbeat atmosphere due to the well chosen lighting and background music.
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Our waiter promptly brought us the menus and drinks. I was torn between ordering the “Crispy soft shell crab marinated in our exclusive blend of spices and deep fried,” and the “Deep fried cod with pink peppercorn and a mango salad,” but eventually decided on the crab at £8.95. My mother and father opted for a sharing platter for £9.95 consisting of several of the most popular starters, including tandoori chicken and beef, king prawns in batter, spring rolls and onion bhajis.
The well presented starters arrived promptly, and this time I was quick enough to stop Yvonne from laying waste to them like a Dothraki horde before I could take out my camera.
Both starters came with a fresh and crispy side salad, a bowl of raita and a bowl of a spicy tomato condiment. The meat on the sharing starter was beautifully cooked and mildly seasoned, as were the other items, and Yvonne greatly enjoyed them. Dry Tony thought his starter was “alright,” which could mean anything from barely edible to a taste sensation, but having played close attention to the tone and delivery I concluded that he found it inoffensive.
Although the salad was lovely I was disappointed in the crab. I was expecting a light, crisp, spicy batter, but instead it had a thick coating of soft batter similar to that normally found around pakoras. The crab inside tasted fishier than I expected and I ended up giving most of it to Yvonne, who also wasn’t keen but didn’t let that stop her.
The waiter clearing the plates asked if everything was alright and we nodded, as my issue with the crab was mostly due to the heavy gram flour batter, which other people might enjoy.
The main courses and sides followed very quickly, with good sized portions that looked delicious. My lamb massaman had a definite taste of Thai with cinnamon and sweet coconut, and the lamb was well cooked and lean. It was extremely mild and personally I prefer more heat in a curry, but I would recommend it to korma lovers who fancy a change.
My parents’ curries were equally mild, though they were expecting a little more kick with a dansak and a rogan josh. The dansak was sweet and creamy but without the additional sourness that we expected. The Rogan Josh was also without heat, and had the least flavour out of the three main courses which was disappointing. The accompanying pilau rice was perfectly cooked and the spinach and feta naan tasted fantastic.
When we requested the bill the waiter(possibly the manager/owner) asked if everything was alright. I mentioned that all of the curries were extremely mild, and he replied that we had all chosen very mild curries. We usually find that Rogan Josh and dansaks have at least a little heat, but that seems not to be the case at the Silk Route, so the universally recognized chilli signs next to the dish in the menu would be helpful. However, I am sure that the polite and helpful staff would make a curry as hot or mild as desired, as long as a customer requests it.
All in all, the Silk Route gets many things right, with fantastic service and a comfortable environment. The drink prices aren’t exorbitant at £4 for a pint of Kingfisher lager and £15 for a bottle of house wine. The portion sizes are generous and the meat seems to be of good quality.
My parents and I found the flavour of some of our meals to be lacking, but most TripAdvisor reviews enthuse about the food, so perhaps we just ordered the wrong things. The main criticisms in the reviews are about poor service which we did not experience at all.
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Just from my one visit I would have to disagree with the rave reviews about the food. However, my expectations were very high due to the reviews on TripAdvisor, which can be a double-edged sword for a restaurant. I’d like to try the £11 Sunday buffet as I’m sure I will find something to rave about in there.
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Have you eaten at The Silk Route? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below