I’ve never been for an Indian in St Neots before, so I was delighted to be able to swing by the Rose & Mango this evening with Cambridge Foodies admin Sean and see what the town has to offer.
The Rose & Mango has not been on the scene long (opening only last year in 2021) but has already made a name for itself. It also has a sister restaurant located in Newmarket which goes by the same name.
The Rose & Mango specialises in Indian food from the Kerala region on the west coast. This is famed for its tropical beaches and laid back lifestyle compared to the usual hustle and bustle of India. I was really looking forward to seeing how this take on Indian cuisine was going to compare to the usual British Indian fusion and other traditional styles we all know and love.The restaurant is spacious and clean with lots of bold colours. The bright vivid artwork plastered across the restaurant gives you a real feel of the Keralan culture we were about to experience.The restaurant is a very pleasant place to be, with a lovely long bar down the back. I was really pleased to see Cobra beer on tap, as well as bottles of Kingfisher.
The staff who showed us to our table were incredibly polite and attentive. They really made an effort to engage with us and took a genuine interest in who we were. We ordered some papadums to get started while we studied the menu. They came served in quarters in a basket alongside a mango chutney, a beetroot & date sauce, and a lemon pickle.
Portions of the sauces and chutneys were small but we just about managed. The mango chutney was very nice and I loved the beetroot and date sauce. I didn’t think much of the lemon pickle on its own but upon mixing the three sauces onto one crisp I understood how they worked together. They complimented each other perfectly on the pallet offering a citrus fuelled sweet and sour explosion in your mouth. Certainly a very different take from what I’m used to in most Indian restaurants and it was a refreshing change. Could this be the difference of the Indian region of Kerala? Zesty, light, and sweet?No matter how hard one tries to take a good photo of a laminated menu, it’s nearly impossible to do it justice. Please find a link to their menu on their excellently presented website here.
Both Sean and I were very impressed with the menu. Offering a wide selection of dishes with a very clear and easy to understand colour coding for the spice levels. There was a good description of each dish too, meaning that people who aren’t familiar with Keralan Indian food aren’t going to be too intimidated.
Everything is divided up nicely into different meats to make it easy to navigate. There is also a separate drinks menu with beer and wine.We decided to let the team decide our mains and show us what Keralan cuisine was all about and boy, they did not disappoint!
They brought out a selection of dishes covering a wide range of food to make sure we had a clear idea of everything.They started us off with the King Prawn Porichathu, which was utterly superb. They were generous portions and incredibly succulent. The Kashmiri chillies really gave these an exciting flavour and the selection of different sauces along the plate made you appreciate each one individually at a slower pace, rather than ploughing through them quickly. Truly a reflection of the slow and steady style of Kerala.
Next we tried the Exotic Chicken Trio – Three large pieces of slow cooked chicken breast marinated in yogurt. Each offers different flavours and are visually exciting in their own right. These were large enough to happily share between two fully grown men with big appetites.
I was thoroughly impressed with how succulent they made the individual chicken pieces, mainly thanks to the marinade process. Each one had a distinctive flavour as well as a visual pop for the eyes. A perfect starter.The Konju Prawn Curry was a delicious dish consisting of Tiger prawns, green mango, turmeric, green chillies, and coconut. A great addition in it’s own right but a particularly good meal to share, in my opinion. I’m noticing a lot of citrus and zest to Keralan dishes which is a refreshing change from the usual spicy and heavy dishes associated with our regular Indian restaurants.The Chicken Dhaba was absolutely fantastic. This dish was a lot more like the stuff you’d find in most other places. Think chicken breast in a spicy onion based sauce with much more of a kick to it.What felt like the centre piece of the meal due to its stunning presentation was the lamb Malabar Biryani. This looked almost like a naan pie or crust which covers the top of the pot it was served in.
This was a nice novelty and a good talking point of the meal. The staff cut the top open to reveal the rice and lamb on the inside. The rice was fantastic and the chunks of lamb were delicious. The lamb was a little fatty, which I don’t mind as it mixed in well with the rice. It was a generous portion which should be enough for anyone on their own but also good to share.We were given two baskets of naan bread which consisted of Cheese Naan and Duck Naan. The Cheese Naan was some sort of cheddar which reminded me of a naan equivalent of a cheesy wrap. The Duck Keema Naan was excellent and upon eating it realised how generous the portion was on the inside. This was a great addition to our meal as it gave up the opportunity to mop up the remaining sauces left on the plate, but thanks to the duck it still felt like a meal in its own right.Naturally, we saved the best until last with this stunning lamb shank. This is the Rose & Mango’s very own Royal Lamb Curry. This beautifully presented dish is not only a sight to behold but also served in an incredibly rich and thick sauce which works perfectly for the naan mentioned above or rice. By this point we were so full from the rest of the food that we honestly didn’t think we could manage it but somehow…we did! I thought for £11.50 this was one of the better value dishes of the evening.We ended the evening with a couple of desserts. One consisting of large succulent chunks of cooked pineapple with mint ice-cream and the other being a concoction of banana, vanilla ice-cream and chocolate filled samosas. In all my time eating at Indian restaurants, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a chocolate samosa but it really works. I’m a big fan of vanilla when prepared to a high standard and the ice-cream here did not disappoint.Both Sean and I were blown away by our experience at The Rose & Mango. The team offers a very unique take on the Keralan region of India and executes it perfectly. Everything here is done to a high standard and the restaurant’s presence offers the town of St Neots an exciting alternative to usual Indian restaurants you see everywhere else.
For me, they truly hold dear to the more laid back traditions of the Keralan region with good food which should be appreciated in its own time. There is a great selection of dishes on the menu that should be able to please anyone who visits with something new and exciting.
This is a great place for people who might be in a bit of a food rut but don’t want to battle into Cambridge centre for something different and exciting.
I really liked a lot of the sweet and zesty takes on a lot of dishes which gave an almost Indian summer vibe while still having enough spice to make me feel like I was going out for a curry.
I really look forward to visiting again in the future and feel a visit to the Newmarket branch may be in order!
Don’t forget to check out their website for more.