Review: Tandoori, International, Ocean Road, South Shields

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WITH orange-shirted waiters and funky modern lighting, the new-look Tandoori International is a far cry from its former self.

 The restaurant was wiped from Ocean Road’s curry scene in June last year and its apparently over-running refurbishment project left many spicy food fans looking forlorn.

 Until the grand revamp, the Tandoori International was one of the most sedate Indian dining experiences on the South Shield’s curry strip.

 It was almost like taking a step back to the days of the Raj, Victorian-style decor with a hint of the exotic, bay windows and a tranquil atmosphere.

 The bay windows are still there, but gone is the tranquillity, the grand elephant print wallpaper and the living room-feel of the dining area.

 I’m still to be persuaded that the Asian reliefs, high-key lighting and flat screen TV playing Indian films were a winning idea – though the place has never been as busy.

 The menu overhaul is much more welcome – not that the food wasn’t good before. Despite the old joke that Ocean Road Indians share one big kitchen, the Tandoori International has, for me, been a cut above the rest.

 While Indian food can look very appetising, curry and rice were never going to be the easiest things to tease into towers or quaff into quenelles.

 But the new-look Tandoori International has decided to up the ante on both taste and appearance.

 My garlic mushroom on puri came folded up into a crescent-shaped parcel of flavour, flanked by carefully crafted smears of sauce. My vegetable shally was crowned with a crisp nest of fried potato.

 The waiting staff, who have always been friendly, polite and gracious, have been refurbished too, complete with bright orange shirts and black ties.

 The tables and chairs have all been replaced with modern furniture, and a dividing wall knocked through to create more space.

 This helps give the place a more lively atmosphere, but I couldn’t help feeling a little crammed in. The table also seemed a little too small for the feast which was put before us.

 You can probably guess that I’m a grumbly type who doesn’t like change, but while the altered atmosphere is not to my taste, the improvement on the already excellent food means I’m already looking forward to going back.