REVIEW: Sachins, Forth Banks, Newcastle

Sachins
Sachins
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Perched on the top of Forth Banks for the past three decades, Sachins has seen many changes in this area of Newcastle, most notably the emergence of the nearby Stephenson Quarter.

While other ventures have risen, and some fallen, this business has maintained its steady stream of custom. Why? I was about to find out.

Poppadoms and pickles

Poppadoms and pickles

Though I’d heard much about this restaurant and its Punjabi cuisine on the grapevine, this was my first time visiting. With tickets booked for a gig at the nearby arena, a pre-gig dinner seemed as good a time as any to put it to the test.

Despite the high-rise buildings springing up around it, Sachins has a more period-feel with its white-wash exterior and semi-circular windows which set it apart from the more soul-less developments nearby. Inside, the colour palette reflects the rich colours of the food, all deep reds and terracota hues.

It’s a large venue, one which seemed well-equipped to deal with the large groups who began streaming in on Saturday night.

No matter what their palate preference, the menu gives them plenty of choice. It’s a whopper with about 70 dishes to whet your appetite.

Paneer starter

Paneer starter

We were a little daunted, but the staff seemed more than adept at helping diners navigate this tastebud trip to the Punjab.

Some like it hot, like my friend, and she’d initially ordered “the dish formerly known as jalfrezi”, as it’s called on the menu.

“It’s VERY hot,” the waiter warned her. She heeded his warning, but he did bring us a pot to test our mettle, which I’ll get back to later.

After the obligatory appetiser of poppadoms and pickles, I chose from the lengthy vegetarian menu to start – the panchrattan paneer tikka (£5.95).

This Indian cheese dish was a super-size version. I received four huge chunks of this springy cheese which was marinated in a spice blend and cooked in a tandoor to give it that smokey edge.

For mains I went with the chingri makhani (£12.95) which, rather than a curry dish, was served as a sizzler of prawns which had been barbecued in Punjabi spices, tossed in butter and cooked with tomatoes. It gave these sometimes bland crustaceans a rich, buttery flavour and didn’t sit too heavily as can sometimes be the case with Indian food.

Though my friend went with a less tear-inducing choice in the end, we still got to try the dish that comes with a warning. Because it has a green chilli, rather than a tomato base, this version of a jalfrezi blew our socks off. One mouthful was enough for me. Approach with caution.

Owner and head chef Bob Arora visited our table to see if we were enjoying the spices, which he imports from India. Like us, he was once a diner here and he liked it so much he bought the place, back in 2000.

Judging by his passion for the Punjab, Sachins could be in line for another 30 years in business.