Love it or loath it you can not ignore the fact that the A38, when it’s on form, has reduced journey times in our part of the county. We had a table booked at the Kinara in Willington and on a chilly Tuesday evening the relaxed drive from Ripley to the restaurant, situated on The Castle Way in the centre of the village, was less than 40 minutes.
The night was getting colder as we hurried through the restaurant entrance in to the reception area and bar. After a warm and friendly greeting we cast our eyes over the well stocked bar which boasted an impressive selection of beers and spirits that included a dozen or more varieties of gin. With the introductions over, we were shown to our table in the spacious dining area.
The interior has been decorated with a light and thoughtful touch using a reduced colour palate on everything from the accent wall finish to the linen napkins. In Hindi, Kinara means at the edge and is usually used to mean the edge of water and this is emphasised in one of the large pieces of wall art in the restaurant. The unobtrusive background music is classical Indian that has been given a Bollywood twist. This further enhanced the relaxed atmosphere.
We ordered poppadoms and the mixed pickle tray to pick at while we read through the menu. The poppadoms were warm, fresh, crisp and melted in the mouth. The accompanying variety of pickles and dips was so tasty and different that we took our time to nibble while we decided what to order. The Kinara is an authentic Indian restaurant and this is reflected in the number of fish and vegetarian dishes that are available.
After a lot of deliberation Susan chose the prawn puri as her starter. This was pan fried prawns who’s delicate flavour was not overwhelmed by the blended spices they were cooked in. The dish was finished with fresh lemon juice and fresh green coriander. It was served on a puri; an unleavened, deep-fried bread.
I selected one of the vegetarian dishes: 3 medallions of aloo tikki. This is Indian snack food. Mashed potato is blended with spices, coated with spiced gram flour and carefully pan fried until golden. The warmth of the spices was tempered by a cool salad of green peas, chickpeas and spinach accompanied by a smooth yoghurt and tamarind dressing.
The lamb saagwala, a house special, was Susan’s main dish. This was a generous portion of a traditional home cooked dish full of authentic but mild, flavours; made with fresh spinach, onions, tomatoes and green chillies. The lamb was tender and the spinach, added at the last minute, retained its flavour and colour. The final ingredient, yoghurt, made this saagwala smooth and creamy. A Peshwari naan, rich with coconut, was the perfect partner for this dish.
My selection was the butter chicken. The tender pieces of locally farmed chicken had been marinated and cooked in a charcoal tandoor oven. Then further cooked in, and served with, a slightly sweet and spicy tomato sauce made smooth with powdered cashew nuts. The sweetness was offset by a smokey, citrus note of, I think, fenugreek and lemon. Finished with a dash of cream and garnished with fresh coriander this was another generous portion I didn’t want to leave.
Unable to resist kulfies, especially when flavoured with pistachio, we completed the evening by sharing 2 scoops of the delicious, milk rich, pale green, frozen desert.
Everything about the Kinara reflects the owners’ passion to give the diner an enjoyable and memorable experience. The restaurant has a reputation of supporting local producers and takes great pride in its use of fresh ingredients. Everything is cooked to order so you can dictate the level of spice in your chosen dish. They even filter their own still and sparkling table water, presented in impressive proprietary bottles.
The Kinara is a place where we will return, with friends, and spend the evening in a relaxed atmosphere enjoying superb Indian cuisine.