“ Indian / Address: 409 Durham Road / Low Fell / NE9 5AN Gateshead / Tel: 0191 447 57 87 „
The review is written from the perspective of 4 of us eating out early evening on a Saturday.
The restaurant is located on Durham Road which is a main road in Low Fell, and relatively close to Newcastle City Centre. Because it is on a main road, there is very little in the way of car parking close by, although we did manage to park quite safely in a narrow backstreet at the side of the restaurant.
The restaurant looks pretty uninspiring and as one of our party commented, the dark sign on a dark unlit background helps nobody find it. The entrance is a narrow door and then we went straight into a functional corridor with stairs leading to the restaurant and immediately ahead of us the gents' toilets (the ladies' are up the stairs).
Once we got into the main restaurant my impression of the place improved considerably. We found ourselves in a large and airy room with stripped floors, tables dotted around the room complete with crisp white table cloths and napkins.
There are several different menus to chose from including a take away menu which seems to feature most if not all of the dishes on the regular menu. There is also a buffet night every Wednesday when you can eat all you want for £8.95 and Thursday and Sunday specials.
It being a Saturday night, we chose from the regular menu. A mwmber of staff took our drinks order and we ordered some poppadoms which came with some rather tasty accompaniments.
One of our party is a vegetarian, and the menu was quite good in that it stated that each dish could be made without meat, so he chose the vegetable Jalfrezi, and another of our party chose the Chicken Jalfrezi. Another of our party chose the chicken Tikka Masala, whilst I chose the chicken Rogan Josh. The dishes came served in metal dishes and with these were our choices of rice- one vegetable pilau, two plain and one mushroom. We also ordered plain naan bread which was a nice large bread and quite flavoursome for it being a plain naan. The rice dishes came in quite small white bowls, certainly not asmuch rice as I have had in Indian restaurants before but once we started eating, the quantity was certainly enough. My main meal was quite tasty and had plenty of tomatoes, but not very full of flavour and not spicy; I certainly wasn't reaching for the water all of the time to cool my mouth. The chicken tikka was also pronounced to be quite bland and to me it looked a bit too orange and so not especially appealing. Not only was this not the most tasty looking dish but when I had a try of the sauce on the Jalfrezi, it tasted just like my own dish. That said and on a positive note, the chicken pieces were plentiful tender and well cooked, and there was a good variety of vegetables in the vegetarian dish.
With poppadoms, 4 main dishes and 4 rice dishes as well as drinks including a couple of glasses of wine and soft drinks, the bill came to about £65, so not excessively expensive for a Saturday night meal.
Far Pavilion is open Monday to Sunday from 17:00 - 23:00 and Saturday till midnight
Address: 409 Durham Road, Low Fell NE9 5AN
Telephone: 0191 4475787
The restaurant is close to us and so was worth a visit as we didn't want to travel into town. It doesn't seem to get a lot of passing trade because of where it is situated but there was a steady stream of diners and the atmosphere was good.
The staff are extremely helpful and left just the right length of time between courses so we didn't feel rushed.
One thing I liked about the menu is the fact that all of the dishes are explained but I think they could have put the heat value on each of the dishes; maybe because a coupleof them tasted very similar there was no need!
Not the best curry I have ever had but certainly not an unpleasant dining experience.
Thanks for reading
In spite of its exotic and evocative name, the Far Pavilion is situated above a parade of shops in the well-heeled Gateshead suburb of Low Fell. People who know the area may remember that the premises were most recently home to the popular Silver Giraffe restaurant which attracted people from across the borough.
I had expected the Far Pavilion to be busier than it was but we had, perhaps, dined early enough to beat the rush, making a reservation for 6.30pm and turning up fashionably late at closer to 6.40pm having been supping real ales at the nearby Aletaster Pub (a must for any beer lovers in the area or passing through). We had booked in advance as advised in the small print on our Groupon voucher and imagined that the offer would draw in a lot of customers but the Far Pavilion was very quiet with only two other tables occupied.
I need to mention first that the restaurant itself is on the first floor, and the men's toilets are on the ground floor beside the entrance while the ladies' toilets are on a little halfway level between the ground and first floors. There's no lift or stair-lift so the premises are not suitable for those reliant on a wheelchair, and could be troublesome for people who have difficulties in climbing stairs.
First impressions were good; it's not the most stylish restaurant I've ever been in but it was light, clean and airy. The style was contemporary with wood (or perhaps quality laminate) floors and a distinct lack of anything flocked. A misjudged mural in one corner could be simply ignored as long as you could train your eyes not to stray that way so the only real issue was the lack of blinds as the sun streamed in. Himself moved his chair round the table but blinds would be helpful because there are some tables where you couldn't turn the chairs away from the sun.
We did have to wait a minute or two in the doorway to be acknowledged as no waiters were visible when we arrived. We were shown to a table and given menus but not asked about drinks. There are no real surprises; this place is a standard "curry house" masquerading as something more upmarket. As well as all the various usual permutations of dhanskas, dopiazas, kormas and bhunas, there were two lists of specials. One was the "Chef's Recommendations", the other the "Far Pavilion Special Presentations": I have no idea where the difference lies.
For the second time recently in an Indian restaurant Himself opted for a sardine starter while I ordered the bhuna prawn on puri. I ordered lamb roshoni (which was a new one to me) for my main course while the curry connoisseur chose the lamb chilli massala, a fairly hot dish; both our dishes were from the "Chef's Recommendations" section of the menu. We ordered a portion of onion pilau rice and two chapattis to share. I asked for sparkling water (which turned out to be an own brand from the Co-op down the road) and Himself ordered a pint of Carling as it was the only lager listed on the menu, only to be disappointed later when he noticed another diner receiving a bottle of Cobra (which he insists had not been listed).
Although the list of dishes hadn't held many surprises, the presentation of one of the starters did. The sardines has been chopped or minced and cooked with aromatic herbs and spices and were served in a whole roasted green pepper complete with its 'lid'; the pepper was cooked just right, not too hard, slightly charred and not too bitter as green peppers can sometimes be. My prawns in a bhuna sauce on puri (a chapatti fried until fluffy and crisp) certainly looked tasty but the sauce was under-seasoned and lacked richness of flavour. The presentation of both dishes was disappointing and uninispiring with a single slice of tomato and cucumber on each plate looking rather feeble.
The mains were better although the first thing we noticed was how similar the two main dishes looked, not only in colour and texture but in presentation too. The presentation was not particularly inspiring, or even interesting. The curries were served in white ceramic bowls filled up to the top and the sauce soon became cold; call me old-fashioned but I still prefer my curry to be kept hot on a plate warmer. The rice, on the other hand, was served in a bowl that was so hot it was almost impossible to safely hold while putting some rice on the lukewarm plate. None of these trials stopped us from eating the food, of course.
My companion liked his more than I mine, but then he was the lucky recipient of more pieces of lamb, while my dish consisted primarily of a sludgy sauce of which the only distinct ingredient was slivers of melt in the mouth garlic. In both dishes, however, the lamb was well cooked, nicely tender and flavoursome and the pieces were a reasonable size. Himself had chosen the hotter dish which delivered just the right amount of fire but didn't sacrifice flavour and had a good tang of tomatoes; as promised it had a good flavour from the fresh ginger. My dish was acceptable but need a little more life in terms of layers of flavours and there was nothing really distinct about it so that it could have been one of a number of menu standards like a bhuna or a rogan josh, occupying that territory between korma and jalfrezi in a rather non-descript way; on the menu it was described as being cooked with "capsicum, whole garlic and aromatic spices". I liked it, but I didn't really feel I'd just tried a dish that was new to me.
The onion pilau was colourful and tasty, finished off with dry spices which added some extra flavour, and the large chapattis were freshly made and perfect for mopping up the sauce. I'm very much of the opinion these days that it's not necessary to order rice and bread and, given that the price of rice is steadily rising, I'm increasingly ordering chapattis as a sole accompaniment. One portion of rice and a couple of chapattis was more than enough for two people and, tasty as it was, we could easily have omitted the rice and still felt like we'd had a decent meal.
The service was generally good, and certainly friendly. I didn't much care for the music being played in the restaurant (no idea what it was, some kind of dance-y, rappy r'n'b stuff, unlikely to be the taste of any of our fellow diners I thought) but at least the volume was kept fairly low.
Our bill came with a couple of After Eights (a blast from the past as most places tend to have chocolates packaged with the restaurant name these days) and we were most impressed when the manager returned the Groupon voucher and wrote a date a year from now on the bottom and told us we could continue to use it until then. The full price would have been a reasonable £32.40 but with our £15 Groupon we paid £17.40 including drinks.
I'd like to think we'd go back to the Far Pavilion and will probably go with friends. This is a good local restaurant and the prices aren't bad at all. The food isn't perfect but it's pretty good and there are several more specials dishes I'm looking forward to trying.