Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Restaurant Review: Amma, Newcastle

It's fair to say that when we moved to Benwell earlier this year it wasn't because the area's thriving restaurant scene. While there are a lot of things I like about living round here, nipping down to the local cafe for a latte or bite to eat isn't one of them, as no such place exists. The few Just-Eateries that loiter around do not inspire any kind of enthusiasm, so it was with no little interest a few weeks back that we noted the opening of Amma, just up off Scotswood Road, claiming to specialise in South Indian and Sri Lankan food. There are no shortage of "Indian" restaurants around town, although most, as anywhere in these sceptered isles, serve up the same ghee-heavy selection of standard curry action. The promise of a more regional south Indian cooking within walking distance of our door was tantalising stuff.

The only comparable (ie regionally specific South Indian) meal  we've had in Newcastle was at Rasa on the Quayside, where Keralan food is served up in rather more salubrious environs than here. That was really great, so hopes were high. This was actually the second time we'd been to Amma, so we've tried a fair whack of what's on offer and I'm pleased to say it's pretty good stuff. The menu was a step into the unknown with some beguilingly titled dishes such as "Chicken 65" and "Fish Fry" demanding attention. We started, tautologically enough, by sharing a few hot starters.

Chicken 65
Chicken 65 turned out to be tender and juicy chunks of marinated breast dredged in a very light flour coating then deep fried. Crispy, moist and an intriguing back story to boot.

Paneer Manchurian
A Paneer dish came in a cornflour-slaked sauce that was more akin to something you'd expect to see in a Chinese joint, but none the worse for that; gentle spicing to the fore here.

Mutton Varuval
Mutton Varuval was a cumin and chilli-heavy blast of flavour. Here as elsewhere, a liberal hand with fresh curry leaves was all to the good.

Chilli Fish
Chilli Fish (Kingkish, a type of large Mackerel as it transpires) was, being on the dry side, less successful, although nice enough. All starters were served with pleasingly inconsequential chopped iceberg garnish.

A few curries were shared for main courses, along with a solitary dosai and plenty of excellent chapati. The curries, consisting of meat and a thick gravy with little or no extraneous veg, all had a decent kick. An accompanying lemon rice was really great, full of whole roasted spices. The dosas, as we had discovered on a previous visit, are probably the main attraction, managing to be both sufficiently crisp and substantial with all manner of mixed fillings available. This one came with a thick dhal and mutton and was served with a gravy and variety of chutneys.

Curries of mutton, chicken and fish
Lamb Dosai
A couple of slight downers: food arrived in it's own time, and in a fairly uncoordinated manner. This didn't bother us as we were sharing everything but might be an issue for some. Also, the meat in a chicken curry seemed to have come solely from the thigh joints, making for a quite a lot of effort in exchange for not a lot of chicken, although I'd still rather this than lumps of bland breast. The interior of the place is plain but perfectly fine. Drinks were very serviceable mango lassis and lemon juices, although they do have a license.

Amma is really good value, with the dosas, more or less a meal by themselves, nearly all coming in at four quid or less. Starters are about three pounds and curries about five. Basically you can have a bit of a feast for about £10-15 a head including soft drinks.

It's certainly nothing too flash here, but there is easily sufficient interest and flavour in a lot of the dishes to ensure that we'll be going back. Those dosas are bloody great, I can see us getting those to take out on nights when cooking just seems like a bit too much hassle.

I read somewhere once that all good blogposts should finish with a "call to action"; well I've got one here for you. Can I politely request that you get yourself down to Amma in order to ensure its longevity. I'd like to see the only decent spot for a meal in spitting distance of my front door stay open as long as possible. Thanks!


Amma, 4A Denton Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE15 7BD
Website  (Not quite finished yet, apparently)


  1. Great review for a great restaurant. Glad there is somewhere brave enough to not succumb to the korma, madras, vindaloo route.

    My wife is Sri Lankan so love the food and am very proud of it. Glad you also enjoyed it.

    1. Cheers Kev, that's good of you to say. When it comes to South Asian food the path less trodden is so much more fun.

  2. It's doesn't looks likes real srilankan food or taste on it !!

  3. Well Bobby, I''ll have to take your word for that. What I do know is that the food is good, very tasty and very cheap.


All comments gratefully received. Sorry about the word verification thing, but I've started getting bombed by spam.

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