DESPITE OUR LOVE of Indian food, Sarah and I are guilty of not branching out in search of rivals to our much-loved regulars Rivage and Desi Pakwan. Then again, when you know the food is always going to be top notch, why would you take this risk? Today presented an opportunity to take us out of our spice comfort zone when a trip to Voujon in Newington was arranged.
I have to admit I knew very little about this eatery but remember reading a review by my blogger friends The Edinburgers (http://www.edinburgers.co.uk/) earlier in the year. Newington itself isn’t our normal turf, either, but there’s always a buzz around the area to suggest this part of town demands further exploration.
The weather couldn’t be much worse on this Friday evening and you can feel the city starting to swell with the Festival looming. Traffic is busier, tourists are confused by the £1.60 bus fare payment and so holding everyone up, waves of colourful posters are everywhere … yip, August is near.
It was worth noting that the waiting staff were smartly dressed as we trudged in from the rain in need of nourishment. The dining room was full with what I judged to be a mix of locals, tourists and students, as well as a busy takeaway trade going on, so best to get down to business quickly.
The menu showcased an extensive range of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. The usual classics were in there alongside an interesting range of kebabs, specials and fusion dishes.
I was tempted by the veggie starter voll puri (£3.75) (lightly spiced chickpeas and potatoes with poori from Calcutta), but went for the more lavish butterflied king prawns (£7.95), that the menu described as ‘striking and delicious’. When it arrived the two large breadcrumbed prawns certainly had my attention. I found the prawns were beautifully tender and the coating suitably crisp with a tasty yellow sauce that had a pleasant fruity tang to it. This was certainly delicious , but could have done with a chilli sauce or some spice to deliver the striking part.
Sarah’s starter of Khati kebab (£5.95) had a little more character to it. Little flecks of tandoori chicken and well-cooked vegetables mixed with an evenly balanced mix of spices inside a light, toasty-flavoured roti, and a fresh side salad impressed. This was a mammoth portion, too, but again could have benefited from the addition of a sauce just to elevate it to another level.
I have to say this was an excellent curry. Lentils can easily go to mush in these sort of dishes but the texture was still there, and complimented the juicy chicken tikka. Cinnamon can be another potential downfall, but it was subtle in this instance and really contributed to the dish. In fact, I love it with lamb as well. I do like a bit of heat and this did pack a punch as promised. Bravo.
I was eager to try Sarah’s main and the stench of garlic radiating from it was impressive. The chicken was tender and it had a pleasing heat to it with flavourful, fresh whole green chillis bringing tang and welcome texture. The only downside here was a slight bitter taste, which meant it didn’t quite match the exquisiteness of my dish. 1-1 on the doors.
We shared rice in the form of ghee bhat (£2.65) and a side of saag aloo priced at £3.95), and as if there wasn’t enough garlic, yes, a garlic naan. The latter was one of the best naans we’ve tasted. It was so light it would have floated like a feather. The rice was a little different and I liked the texture and oniony vibes the allium brought to it. The saag aloo offered irony spinach that flirted with soft, lightly spiced spuds – delicious.
The waiters were exceptionally polite, hard-working and humble. Their product knowledge was as impressive as the pride they took in their work, and service was impeccable throughout the evening. I’ve had far worse service in fine dining restaurants, so credit where credit is due.
Voujon was certainly worth the venture out into the horrendous weather. My Khatmandu chicken delicacy and that garlic naan will stick in the memory for a while, but as to whether it rivals our trusted local eateries, further visits are required to inspect levels of consistency. There were plenty of positives to merit a return visit and the excellent service rounded off an enjoyable evening.
Phone: (0131) 667 5046
Address: 107 Newington Road, Edinburgh, EH9 1QW