Restaurant Review: The Sunar Gow

Our reviewer tries a taste of what Hatton, near Tutbury, has to offer...

A mouth-watering aroma of beautiful cuisine greets all who visit the Sunar Gow at Hatton, home to some of the most delicious and authentic Indian food in Derbyshire. You immediately know that you’re in for something special when the eating area is flooded with diners from miles around, and the takeaway area is filled with those who live close by in a flurry to get their fix of incredible Asian cuisine.

This beautifully renovated restaurant, however, has an appearance that is far from traditional and ethnic – interestingly looking like an English pub from the outside, but a contemporary and stylish Indian restaurant from the inside. Large windows create a spacious and airy dining area and the exquisite bar is a neon-lit centre point at the heart of the restaurant. With plush table decorations, a raised level to seat even more diners and gentle music playing throughout, the ambience in the restaurant is also inviting and homely. It soon became evident from the abundance of customers that owner Mohammed and his team have an incredible bond with the local community.

As huge fans of Indian cuisine, my friend and I had already longingly observed the tempting meals of fellow diners and were filled with delicious expectation as the menus arrived. The wine list was impressive and the drinks menu varied, with bottled favourites such as Cobra (�3.30) and a vast selection of liquors, house spirits and soft drinks available.

The starters on offer were also enough to keep everyone happy with choices ranging from fresh-water King Prawn brochette (�5.50) to the indulgent Sobji Platter for two (�7.50). Fancying something a little more traditional yet equally tasty, I chose the classic Tandoori mix kebab (�3.50). Presented still sizzling in a nest of fresh salad, the Tandoori meats had been delicately charred to lock in the savoury juices and a refreshing yellow mint sauce was drizzled over the accompanying citrus fruits – simply delicious.

My dining companion chose the mouth-watering home-cooked vegetable samosas (�3.25). Soft on the centre and perfectly crispy on the outside, this delicious and uncomplicated dish certainly didn’t compromise on taste or flavour and the turn-over style pasty had a filling bursting with a heavenly mix of peas, lentils and potato.

When it comes to main courses it is easy to be spoilt for choice with varied delicacies such as Lamb Makhani – tender lamb shank served with a creamy bhuna-style sauce (�13.95) – or Shatkora, a medium-strength combination of sweet and sour Bangladeshi citrus fruits (�11.95). The option to choose any sauce and any selection of meat, fish or vegetables however, is what gives the Sunar Gow a unique touch. The options are endless and if the mouth-watering Tandoori or Biryani specials still aren’t enough, there are traditional English choices too.

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The knowledge and passion of the staff here is exceptional and when struggling to choose a main it was recommended I tried the Chasni (�11.95). This dish is relatively new to the western palate and is served with any choice of meat alongside aromatic pilau rice. As with a conventional Korma or Tikka, the Chasni retains sweet and creamy characteristics but combines them with a strong hint of tasty tomato and chutney. The combination was rich and the thick sauce almost velvet-like, yet this was perfectly balanced out by the tender chicken pieces well proportioned to suit its heaviness – proof that the kitchen team had got it just right.

My friend opted for the vegetarian Saag Aloo, fantastically priced at �5.95 and available as both a main and starter. The dish arrived in a beautifully ornate pot that overflowed with the gorgeous aroma of vegetables and potato chunks inside. It was perhaps this wonderful display of ethnic food at its best that prompted her to admit how despite being a huge fan of Saag Aloo, it was easily the best she’d ever tasted. The potato was soft, wonderfully seasoned and surrounded with a delicious squidge of herbs, spinach and parsley.

The accompanying side orders range from the traditional to the adventurous, with a choice of vegetables, sundries and bhajis available alongside flavoured naans or rice. One of the most appealing aspects of Indian cuisine is the freedom to mix different dishes and, as ever with food from the sub-continent, the table heaved with an indulgent collection of mushroom pilau rice (�2.50) and peshwari and plain naan breads (�2.25).

Portion sizes had been perfectly judged and the arrival of the dessert menu effortlessly tempted us with ‘goodies’ ranging from chocolate pudding to ice-cream. We chose the delicious and refreshing lemon cheesecake (�3.50) to share – a wonderfully light choice that arrived covered with sprinklings of colourful flakes and drizzled in a good old fashioned strawberry sauce. As an alternative twist, the filling had the consistency and creaminess of delicious home-made ice-cream, with the biscuit base providing a crunchy contrast of textures.

It was a delightful end to our meal and confirmed once more that the Sunar Gow is an excellent find where both ambience and service provide a memorable dining experience. Mohammed has clearly worked very hard and the fruits of his labour are plain to see – this fantastic restaurant is unhurried, great value and is the perfect place to tantalise the taste-buds.

Sunar Gow, Uttoxeter Road, Hatton DE65 5PT

Tel: 01283 810394

Meet the owner – Mohammed

Where was your first job and what was it?My first job was working Saturday nights at my dad’s first restaurant – the Sunar Gow at Broughton Astley in Leicestershire. I was 15 and had just started to learn the trade.

Who has had the greatest influence on your career?It would have to be my father – he was 11 when he came to the UK and he started work on his first night here. He wasn’t very tall and when working as a kitchen porter he had to stand on a wooden beer barrel just to reach the sink! His hard work and motivation has rubbed off on me and he’s taught me everything that I know today.

What inspired your interest in the food business?I have always enjoyed a great meal and I want to see that same satisfaction on customers’ faces when they leave our restaurants. Bangladeshi people are known to be fantastic cooks and I want to help people enjoy our hospitality and our delicious food.

What is the key element of a successful restaurant?A level of consistency – it’s something of a balancing act. Great food with bad service, or bad food with great service never works. I always remind my staff that we can’t be a successful restaurant if we aren’t able to reach the same high standards every single night.

What do you do in your spare time?I enjoy listening to a variety of music, playing sports and, unsurprisingly, dining out and experiencing different cuisines.

If you were eating at the Sunar Gow, what meal would you choose?I love fish and have worked hard with the chefs at the Sunar Gow to cook an Ayre Jal just the way my mum would at home. A fillet of Bangladeshi fresh-water fish cooked in a spicy sauce – it always goes down a treat.

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