"We should totally go there for food sometime". God knows how many times, peering inside as we scampered down towards The Sage, we've said that about Raval. An Indian menu that avoids the usual Bangla-tastic clichés, some luxurious ingredients and a recommendation from no less a curry fanatic than Cliff Richard: there's plenty going on here to pique the interest. En route to what turned out to be one of the best gigs I've ever seen (John Grant- honestly, what a bloody show) we finally did what we'd threatened to for about five years and popped into Raval for a pre-music dinner.
Raval is perched just over the Tyne Bridge on the Gateshead side. If you're from round these parts you've probably driven past it about a zillion times. I wonder if the position of the place does it many favours; unless heading to The Sage, you're not likely to be wandering past. There were three or four other tables in during the time we were there, which isn't ideal for a Friday night.
|Mint Yoghurt, Carrot and Pineapple Pickles with Poppadom wafers|
Poppadoms and pickles boded well. The carrot and pineapple chutneys balanced spice and sweetness expertly, while it's nice to see mint yoghurt that isn't a nuclear shade of yellow.
The express menu offers up a variety of main dishes, each served with the same daily rice, lentil and vegetable sides for a very reasonable £15.95. We added a Malahari Paratta bread and some Lentil Vada.
We'd mentioned that we were off to The Sage and therefore on a budget, time-wise. Raval sorted us out admirably, serving up this lot fast enough for us to get in, fed and out in under an hour. I had a beer, Kasia was on soft drinks and the total bill, including added service (meh) came to just under £60. Despite ordering off the "secret" express menu, that isn't exactly cheap, but I didn't begrudge a peso of it, as we'd had two very different but equally lovely renditions of yum. We'll defo be back before another musical event in the near future.
The more interesting question is would we return for an a la carte blow-out from a menu where scallops and lobster offer the opportunity to push prices further north? I reckon yes. We've had a couple of not-very-inspiring scrandowns lately (here and here), so deliciousness has been at a premium. The only worry is that I've rarely seen the place with more than a few tables in, which does make you wonder how they can rotate food stocks. No doubt about the cooking though, not on the basis of what we saw. So, do us a favour, get yourself down there and keep us company.
Raval, Church Street, Gateshead, NE8 2AT
0191 477 1700