Last night me and Ben went for dinner at Friends Refined Indian Cuisine in Bishops Waltham. We’ve wanted to go there for ages, having previously only sampled their food in takeaway format (which is amazing!!) and we booked a table for 7.15, planning to go for a couple of drinks at a pub nearby beforehand.
We were actually slightly late for our reservation due to having to go to a further away pub than originally planned but this was not a problem. We were greeted warmly and led to a lovely little table for two at the back of the restaurant. The dining area is quite small and according to the website seats 50 which sounds about right. There was a table next to us which was really quite close and I was hoping nobody would be seated there, luckily it remained empty throughout our dinner.
First things first, drinks! Ben opted for a Cobra beer while I chose one of the only wines available by the glass which I think was a Chardonnay. We also got some water for the table.
There was a really nice atmosphere in the restaurant – there were only two other tables occupied which made for minimal noise and there was some music playing quietly in the background. We guessed that the restaurant does most of it’s business through takeaways as there was a steady stream of people coming in to collect their food throughout our meal.
We opted against starters as we are valiantly trying to be a little healthier what with it being January and all and we also know from takeaway experience that the portion sizes are not to be scoffed at!
We ordered a curry, rice and naan each and onion bhaji’s to share as Ben said they were the best he’s ever tried, high praise indeed! We waited a while for our food to come but it wasn’t an issue as we were chatting and enjoying our drinks. I think they were waiting for us to signal we were ready or something as at one point one of the lovely guys came over and asked if we were “ready for our mains?” which confused us slightly as we hadn’t had starters! But it didn’t matter.
After that, a steady stream of food was bought out to our little table and it was time to feast!
I ordered the Lamb Pasanda, described on the menu as the “next step up from a korma” as I am slightly unadventurous and not a huge fan of spicy curries.
Apologies for the less than ideal photos, I only had my iPhone and it was super dark in there!
I also got a peshwari naan which is my absolute favourite, lots of scrummy coconut and almonds in the middle. As you can see I really lean toward the sweeter options when having a curry; there is something about the combination of a slightly spicy sauce and the sweetness of coconut and almond that just works perfectly in my opinion.
In a stroke of genius I opted against the usual basmati rice and instead bravely got the exciting sounding keema rice, containing cooked lamb and fried onions. It was seriously amazing. I was worried that lamb curry + lamb rice might be, dare I say it, too much lamb…but obviously I came to my senses as you can actually never have too much lamb. It was perfect, ensuring a taste of meat in every bite, a difficult feat with some curries that contain less than generous ratios of meat to sauce. Happily this is not the case at Friends and even if I’d gone for plain rice I think I would have had more than enough lamb to last me through!
The lamb pasanda was amazing. The flavour was so rich and intense, I could really taste the almonds and cream and there was a hint of spice that kept me on my toes! Combined with the rice and the naan I was in absolute heaven! We hardly ever get Indian takeaways or go out to restaurants but I think we will be going to Friends a lot more often now. We quite often cook kormas and tikkas at home using Quorn chicken pieces or fillets but the flavour is never there. Even in really good ready-meals (if there is such a thing!?) that we very occasionally buy, the flavour is always just lacking. I have been seriously impressed by the food at Friend’s and it has proved, to me, that Indian food is one of the only cuisines we just can’t replicate accurately and needs to be sampled at a restaurant.
Benji got a Vegetable Dopiaza as he was fancying something a bit spicy. He got mushroom rice and a plain naan to accompany his curry.
The mushroom rice was crammed with fat, juicy mushrooms and he said the rice had absorbed all the flavours making it tasty enough to eat on it’s own!
His dopiaza was full of perfectly cooked vegetables and there was a sizeable heat to the dish which Ben really enjoyed. There were no complaints with regards to the naan, not a crumb was left on that plate when he was finished!
We also got a starter sized dish of onion bhaji’s which we asked to be served with our meals. These were absolutely delicious and we cleared the dish with no problems!
I was actually really impressed with the portion sizes overall; when eating out I often can’t finish my food and end up leaving a lot but at Friends I was able to eat it all which was very exciting! It could have been because we went without starters, something we don’t normally do but is obviously beneficial!
Overall we had an absolutely delightful evening at Friends and will definitely be back, I actually suggested we go back tonight but Ben understandably told me to calm down. The service was really friendly and nice and we felt well looked after and not at all rushed. The dinner came to £41 which included two Cobra beers and a glass of wine and we felt this was reasonable. We like the convenience of being able to walk down to the Village from Ben’s house and saving money on train/taxi fares into town which is always good.
Finally, I saw this on the website and just had to share it:
The name “Friends” comes from the fact that a group of friends own and run the restaurant.
How adorable is that!?