For a population of 16,000 people, St Ives does really well for Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants, with a total of 5 (excluding takeaways). Places like Ely and Huntingdon, which dwarf it in size only have two each, which gives you an idea of how lucky the town is.
After my visit to Dhaba tonight, I have now reviewed all five restaurants in St Ives and I have been incredibly impressed with what I have experienced at Dhaba. Could it be that the new kid on the block is giving its rivals a run for their money?
Walking down Bridge Street, it is an easy restaurant to spot, with a very distinctive neon blue glow which lights up the street. The neon blue continues into the interior as you enter, giving the restaurant a dark atmosphere which is great for a Saturday night, though unfortunately it makes photos for the purposes of this review very challenging.
It’s a very modern looking restaurant, with a stunning bar which is lit up by the neon lights. Even the walls are painted blue giving it a real distinctive theme.
We were seated at our table and given a menu. It was great to see kingfisher on tap which came to a reasonable £4.50.
We ordered some papdums while we went through the menu. They came out with three sides – mango chutney, onion salad, and yogurt. We had to order the lime pickle separately but they were more than willing to bring some out.
All the side sauces were absolutely excellent. Their yogurt was some of the best I have had in a while, as was their lime pickle. The mango chutney came across as a little processed but tasted great with a really nice texture. No complaints all round!
The menu had a modest selection but everything you would expect from a British Indian restaurant. They had their signature ‘chicken Dhaba’ under the specials menu. This is “a flavorful light curry with baby potato” and boasts to be one of the most famous dishes in the roadside kitchen of Punjab.
My son was delighted to see Makhani (butter chicken) on the menu, which is now his favourite dish, thanks to his visit to The Shilpa the other week. The neon lights makes this dish look more vivid than it actually was but it still had a very bold colour to it. This was a far cry from the Makhani he had at The Shilpa recently which was more of a pale yellow. This didn’t stop him from devouring the dish none the less but after trying it myself, I must admit, it tastes very different from what I remember. The Makhani came with a block of butter which melted into the sauce, which I have never seen before.
My dad had the lamb biryani which was beautifully presented in a pot pie and included a side curry. Again, the neon light does not do the photographs much justice and the side curry looks almost radioactive but it tasted fascistic.
My chicken vindaloo had a beautiful colour and a delicious deep flavour. It had a really nice warm spice to it which slowly built up over the meal. I didn’t go for tikka’d chicken but it was nice and tender none the less. This was the nicest curry I think I have had in St Ives.
The bill came to about what was expected for three people. A service charge of 10% was automatically included but the staff were very polite and attentive throughout. We were given an After 8 mint but no hot towel was included.
The vindaloo was the real star of the show tonight. It is hard to find a restaurant which does one which ticks all the boxes. I also highly recommend the lamb biryani for anyone who is a fan.
Thanks for reading.