Where Indian restaurants were once associated with flock wallpaper and waiters in velvet jackets, these establishments have upped their game in the style stakes of late. Never more so than at Yuvraaj.
Created in a grand Victorian building that will have housed wealthy merchants and more in its time, the setting alone sets itself apart from your average restaurant of this ilk.
Then there’s the interiors, which manage to pay homage to the era of the building with original cornicing and floor length plush curtains that adorn the period windows, while also bringing the site bang up to date with mood lighting and white textured wallpaper that wouldn’t look out of place in a trendy gallery.
There’s just enough hints of the East to remind you that this is in an Indian restaurant, however, with opulent purple velvet seating and a sprinkling of gold trinkets. It’s all very tasteful.
But the proof of a good restaurant inspired by India is in the pudding, or should that be poppadoms. And so to the menu, which is a mixture of Western fusion and Indian classics.
It offers a huge selection of dishes including Bengali specials, signature dishes, tandoori, traditional and more.
All the classics are there for the Indian food faithful, such as chicken madras (£6.95) and lamb balti (£8.50), but there’s also some less well-known options such as shatkora dishes, which are prepared with a citrus fruit which comes from the Sylhet region of Bangladesh.
After an appetiser of poppadoms and pickles (there was plenty of the former: a towering pile which was more than enough to satisfy three of us), I chose the crab piri puri to start.
Indian meals in Blighty can often be over-powering and loaded with lurid dyes, but this was a delicate starter of shredded crab meat and spring onion, served with plump discs of Indian bread.
It was a light start to the meal, which still managed to pack a punch thanks to a hint of spices.
I chose tandoori chicken for my main (£8.25) and shared sides of rice and naan with my friends.
The chicken was perfectly tender and the sauce not too-in-your-face, but there was plenty of salad and mint sauce for those who want to cleanse their palate in between bites.
Some, of course, like it hot and for spice lovers there’s plenty of dishes which turn up the heat, including my friend’s choice of a Jalley Jhul, a curry base of tomato, green chilli and coriander which blew her socks off.
Despite the setting here being more opulent than most, service is still super friendly and we felt in no hurry to leave. The benefit of being outside of the city centre also meant we had no parking meter to hurry back to.
Yuvraaj means Indian prince, but it’s proved to be quite the King amongst Sunderland’s Indian restaurants.