Cobra slithers past its rivals

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CAFE Blue Cobra saved my rumbling tum after a bad start to a pre-theatre meal.

Ahead of last Monday’s opening night of Dinnerladies, Ma Wheeler and I decided we would have some mother and daughter time in one of the restaurants in town.

It proved quite a challenge.

We visited a handful of restaurants and bars – some weren’t serving food, some were closed and some only took cash – and we ended up trudging around the city centre for a good 45minutes before Cafe Blue Cobra came to the rescue.

You’d think with Amalfi’s shutting up shop – its prime location opposite the Empire meant it was always full pre-show – more restaurants would be quick to cash in on its trade.

We had a warm welcome at Blue Cobra though where a cheery chap opened the door for us and showed us to our table.

Indian restaurants of old have a tendency to be dark and dingy. Not so here.

The wooden fretwork is a tasteful feature in this surprisingly light and airy venue.

Plus the fresh flowers dotted around earned it some extra brownie points from me.

Menu wise, there are heaps of dishes to choose from including vegetarian sections, tandoori specialities, jinghe dishes (large king prawn), chingri (prawn), mach (fish), balti, duck and beef sections – I could go on, so be prepared to take your time making your choice.

As the clock was ticking closer to curtain up we decided to forgo starters and both chose from the tandoori section for our mains.

King prawn for me (£9.95) and a tandoori cocktail (£10.95) for mum with a shared portion of basmati rice (£2.50) and a peshwari nan (£2.45).

The presentation was simple, but effective, and my prawns, opened up like a butterfly, certainly impressed.

Though tandoori is a notoriously-dry dish, mine still oozed flavour and was served with a gravy boat of yoghurt dressing to add some moisture.

Mum’s cocktail was a good choice too as she got a bit of everything – huge chunks of chicken, beef, lamb and prawn.

It’s one of the more expensive choices on the menu – most come in at the £6/£7 mark – but it’s worth the extra pennies.

The nan, however, was a bit of a let down. Though tasty, it didn’t offer the raisins, cous cous and coconut promised on the menu.

Blue Cobra’s wine list is also surprisingly vast.

Considering wine is not a typical accompaniment to an Indian meal, there’s a large selection of wines from across the globe including the rich Châteauneuf du Pape, which is more commonly twinned with coq au vin than curry.

There’s also a huge selection of brandies, liqueurs and vermouths and the more typical curry partners of beer and lager.

The most unusual appearance though belonged to the champagne section which included Moet, Bollinger and Dom Perignon at a whopping £124.95 a bottle.

Judging by the wine list, they must get some pretty big spenders in Cafe Blue Cobra.

Thankfully, our meal was a more purse-friendly affair coming in under the £40 mark.