NEW addition to John Street, Masala Lounge, is ticking all the boxes for me.
Excellent food. Check. Value for money. Check. Friendly service. Check. Crisp, clean, contemporary surroundings. Check.
In fact, I couldn’t really find fault with this newly-opened eaterie.
I visited with colleagues Cara and Georga on a Thursday night.
At a mere four days old, there was still a hint of fresh paint in the air and an eager welcome at the door.
The decor is pared down, but effective. The owners have gone for the norm of a chocolate brown and cream colour scheme, but with splashes of colour – a purple feature wall and space age lighting – thrown into the mix.
We were seated at our table and asked if would like help navigating the menu. We didn’t, but I do liked to be asked.
Feeling frugal, we chose the evening meals special which runs on Thursdays and Sundays – a bargain at £7.95 for four courses.
To start, I chose the Chicken Tikka Paneer; Georga went with Chingri Mirch while Cara had the King Prawn Butterfly.
They arrived promptly and were generous portions, artistically garnished.
Mine was a delight: huge chunks of prime chicken that oozed flavour, which were complemented well by gooey, cheesy chunks.
Georga’s too was impressive: a huge green pepper full to the brim with lightly spiced prawns. Cara’s was a little dry, but still tasty.
Things were off to a good start, so I was looking forward to my meal – Tandoori King Prawn – and I wasn’t disappointed.
Though a notoriously dry dish, this tandoori was a fusion of delicate flavours with huge, meaty prawns as big as my thumb.
Cara’s was a more adventurous affair – the Mashur.
A Chicken Tikka delicacy cooked with garlic, ginger, onions, tomatoes, coriander, garden mint and tandoori spices.
It was an unusual dish – especially with the addition of the minty sauce – yet delicious all the same.
Georga, meanwhile, chose the rather grand sounding Sabka Maza, another Chicken Tikka delicacy which this time included garlic, ginger, onions, tomatoes, green chilli and hot spices.
It comes highly recommended from the chef, and so it should.
But be warned, it’s not for the faint-hearted, and has a real kick to it.
As part of the four courses, you can choose any rice dish or chips and any naan bread.
The naan breads were huge, pizza-sized in fact, and we struggled to finish the four courses.
It was a classic case of our eyes being bigger than our bellies, but at only £7.95 each you can afford to be greedy.
With two bottles of wine our bill came in at £55. Bargain.
In a city that’s recently lost restaurants – Cosa Nostra and Amalfi have both shut their doors – it’s refreshing to find a venture that still has faith in Sunderland.
John Street isn’t exactly a hive of activity of an evening, but we’ll be back to Masala Lounge, hopefully other diners will follow suit.