Walking along the leafy, broad street leading out of the centre of Derby, the innocuous stone frontage of Anoki belies the drama of the restaurant which lies behind. Straight in through the entrance and we were greeted with a warm welcome as the waiter asked if we would like pre-diner drinks, or to be shown straight to our table. We quickly spotted our friends and elected to be shown upstairs.
Here is where the true drama of Anoki begins with ‘theatre’ on a grand scale in this beautiful dining room. With its high barrelled ceilings and beautifully decorated architrave it creates an air of magic. Once an old cinema, it’s decor is sympathetic to its roots. High back chairs and well-spaced tables give a truly comfortable dining experience.
The waiters in their traditional Indian dress were happy to give advice and suggestions as we pondered the menu. With complimentary dips and popadoms already on our table, we had something to nibble on as we got down to the serious task of ordering. I love prawns so Tandoori king prawns were an obvious choice. They were fat and fleshy with lovely charred edges and a slightly soured taste from their marinade, for me, a great start to the evening. Garlic mushrooms, filled with Indian cheeses, peppers and onions again cooked in a tandoori oven were my husband’s spicy choice.
Dipping my naan into my husband’s main course of Mirch Masala Chicken, the fresh coriander and ginger made my tongue tingle and the quality of the chicken was evident, a dish he really enjoyed too!! As the chicken Tikka was a chef’s special recommendation, although it was again a Tandoori dish, I chose this. Presented with a fresh, crisp salad garnish which cleaned the palate, the meat was tender and full of flavour; dipping each piece into a piquant sauce, we shared a bowl of buttery Pilau rice. Our friends chose the lamb dish, and it was great to see them in raptures over this, also the naan which had the distinct taste and texture of coconut.
Although we were all far too full for a dessert, the fresh fruit sorbet proved irresistible, my choice was mango, it seemed the perfect partner and finish to an Indian meal.
Enjoying a fresh filter coffee, smartly presented, and warm towels to refresh our hands, (a custom which I find very civilised), we chatted away happily to our friends with the background hum of lively conversation from the other guests until we noticed the time. But then such is the charm of Anoki, the atmosphere created here engenders a feeling of such warm conviviality that you really don’t want your evening to end.
Our thanks to all the chefs and waiters at Anoki for a lovely evening.