Sagar: East Shore Village, Seaham

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I’D BEEN off on my travels again so while my credit card was struggling under the burden of another holiday, I reasoned a little extra spending to treat my parents wouldn’t matter.

Mam and dad are both massive fans of Indian food, so I whisked them off to Sagar in Seaham, on a recommendation from a friend.

Sagar Indian Restaurant - Featherbed Court, East Shore Village, Seaham.

Sagar Indian Restaurant - Featherbed Court, East Shore Village, Seaham.

Tucked away on a smart new housing estate, it turned out to be a hidden gem by the seaside.

I used my pending absence of two whole weeks to cajole them into trying something different for starters and mains.

Dad ended up eyeing an onion bhaji suspiciously, but when pressed agreed it was crisp and lightly fried, with a slightly sweet taste.

I thoroughly enjoyed my pink and perfect chunk of baja mach – lightly spiced, fried salmon – and mam was also a fan of her lamb chops, served on the bone and coated with a layer of mouth-watering spices.

All our starters were perfectly presented, with artful curls of sauce and a dash of crisp salad.

For the main course, I got to grips with delicious tandoori chilli chingri masala – king prawns barbecued then cooked in a fierce red sauce with fresh green chilies.

It was hot and delicious, but I prefer dryer Indian dishes. Still, a worthwhile venture off the usual beaten eating track.

The parents absolutely cannot tolerate anything more than the merest hint of spice, but dad did ditch his traditional korma for a creamy nawabi – chicken pieces in a heavenly creamy mango sauce.

Mam also took a walk on the almost-wild side, with another mild dish – chicken makhoni, which combines butter, cream, coconut and everything else you probably shouldn’t eat, but tastes amazing.

They mopped it all up with a pilau rice each, mushroom and vegetable respectively, while I kidded myself I could cram in modu, or honey naan, which actually became breakfast the next day.

Again, the food was well-presented by cheery staff, which can be the invisible garnish on any meal.

The parents pushed my financial boat out with a dessert each – pineapple ice-cream, served up in the fruit of its flavour – and a pink and yellow mound of banana split.

With soft drinks all round and a coffee for me, the farewell treat came to just over £78.

Quiet when we arrived, the restaurant was full to bursting point when we left.

Immaculate, but petite, it might be worth arriving before 7pm if crowds aren’t your thing.

Jane O’Neill

Twitter: @janethejourno