REVIEW: Yuvraaj, Douro Terrace, Ashbrooke, Sunderland

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Think Indian restaurant and you often think garish flocked wallpaper in a setting that verges on gaudy.

Yuvraaj not only turns this culinary stereotype on its head, it sets a new standard for restaurants that draw inspiration from this corner of the globe.

Chicken tikka paneer

Chicken tikka paneer

Cafe Spice has always been one of the most popular restaurants in the city, so if you’re going to take it over, you better do a good job.

Fortunately for the Indian food faithful, the owners of the site’s latest incarnation Yuvraaj – meaning Indian prince – have done just that after a £160,000 refurbishment.

They had a great canvas to start with in this imposing Victorian building, built during Ashbrooke’s heyday as a thriving, wealthy suburb.

In keeping with the conservation area, the building’s exterior sash windows and other traditional features have been retained.

Chingri Ankuriti

Chingri Ankuriti

Moving inside, the right balance has been struck between injecting the restaurant with a character of its own and keeping its period charm.

As such, original Victorian ceiling roses and coving stand nicely alongside crushed velvet chairs you sink into and swathes of sumptuous gold curtains.

Though the dressings have a rich purple and gold scheme, the rest of the decor is crisp white with textured feature walls. For take-away customers, there’s even a chic cocktail lounge for them to wait that’s separate from the capacious restaurant.

It all blends together smoothly to create a luxurious, yet informal, atmosphere.

But let’s get to the most important bit: the food.

The menu is traditionally Indian, with a nod to Bangladesh in homage to the chef’s birthplace.

The starters will be familiar to fans of this food, with all the usual suspects there. The vast majority come in at under £5, so it’s a satisfyingly familiar price point too.

I chose the chicken tikka paneer (£4.50). It was beautifully presented, a splash of vibrant colour against the gleaming white of the tablecloths. The portion was large enough to be a light meal and there was forkful upon forkful of tender chicken and cubes of Indian cheese, marinated in a creamy sauce with the lightest of tangy zings.

The main choices offer something a little different from the norm, especially in the signature dishes section with options (all priced £14.95) such as Lazeez Pasilan – grilled lamb chops, cooked in a traditional Bengali home-style manner.

It was this gourmet section which tickled my taste buds most, and I chose its Chingri Ankuriti.

Service was satisfyingly swift – attentive staff are another plus point here – and, again, presentation was perfect.

Even the salad, with a tomato carved into a rose Thai-style, looked pretty.

The stars of the show were the chunky king prawns which had been encased in a medium-strength sauce which fused the shellfish with a spiced flavour without over-powering them. Bean sprouts punctuated the prawns and added some crunch.

My date chose a more exotic dish – the Imli Mishti Hansh (£10.25). You don’t often see duck curry on the menu but, judging by this one, you should.

The rich meat blended seamlessly with a sweet tamarind and honey sauce. Though you’d expect the honey to prove saccharine, it worked a treat.

Parking inside the walls of the restaurant site is at a premium and limited to a dozen or so vehicles, but there is free parking outside for up to two hours.

Yuvraaj’s location outside of the city centre also gives it more of a laid-back feel, another jewel in the crown of this regal restaurant.