Do you dare to be different at latest Indian?

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Do you dare to be different at latest Indian?

Asking what is on the menu of an Indian restaurant on Ocean Road is akin to asking for directions. For an average North East man, it’s an absolute no no.

You order your madras, rice, and naan bread and get on with it. Usually the samey menus offer little opportunity for those daring to be different. Yet here I was stuck for choice

Zeera is one of the latest additions to South Shields’s famous strip of Indian restaurants, and has deservedly been attracting much applause from discerning curryphiles.

After much deliberation and interrogation of the waiter, I ordered aloo tikki (£3.50) to start.

A short while later a neatly-manicured pile of spiced Indian potato cakes arrived surrounded by swirls of red and green reductions.

For the main course, Sabzi bahar (£4.95) is billed as “seasonal vegetables, stir fried with a touch of spice, garlic, ginger and fresh coriander, served on a sizzler”. And that’s a fairly good summary.

Simple flavours and spices made this a nicely-flavoured dish. While it lacked a little of the kick I was in the mood for, a portion of chilli pilau (£2.80) brought the added piquancy.

Those who favour the more traditional dishes have nothing to fear at Zeera, however. They are all there.

However, even for those going for the old favourites will still notice a difference in presentation and quality.

Indian restaurants on Ocean Road have been upping their game considerably in the past few years, with almost all of them going for some kind of refit or relaunch.

This has achieved various levels of success, some attaining something resembling classy while others are sadly a little OTT.

Zeera, however, has hit the nail right on the head when it comes to decor.

Subtle, well-chosen lighting, furniture, fittings and fixtures give it a stylish look and a real feel of the Eastern and exotic.

At £60 for a two-course meal for five with poppadoms, drinks, coffees and a couple of ice creams, you definitely cannot grumble about the price.

Ross Robertson