Restaurant Review: Romy’s Kitchen in Thornbury

Romy's Kitchen

Romy's Kitchen - Credit: Archant

Katie Jarvis: Imported from The Bengal to Thornbury, this is Indian food at its very best

Monday: I decide to give up sugar on the basis that it’s one fad I haven’t yet tried. The great thing about fads is that you can go madly at them for a very short period, then inexplicably give up - a perfect fit with my personality-type, officially classified on the Briggs Myers indicator as ‘shallow’. “The thing is,” I explain to Ian, who is highly interested, “sugar causes obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, sleep interruption, immune suppression, anxiety, depression, hyperactivity…”

“You think everything is caused by sugar,” he interrupts.

“…immigration problems, potholes and global warming,” I continue. “I’ve looked it up.”

I proceed to make a banana cake, using bananas of a ripeness which passes all understanding, while omitting any sugar from the recipe. “Glad to see you’ve used up those bananas,” says Ian, who hates waste. His expression, however, on making official taste-bud contact with the cake, goes way, way beyond the expressions of people who take a sip of orange juice in the sincere belief that they’ve poured themselves a glass of apple juice. The cake is horrific in a way that only people who’ve tried one of my cakes with sugar omitted can truly understand; almost rivalling the wild garlic soup I once made that – had it ever gone public – would have done more damage to the Green Party than an interview with Natalie Bennett.

Wednesday: Since giving up sugar, way back on Monday, I’ve slept like a baby every single one of the two nights since I gave up sugar way back on Monday.

“Do you know what?” I say to Ellie, who is highly interested.

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“If this is about sugar, I don’t want to know,” she snaps, inexplicably. Probably quite busy.

The thing is, even though I wasn’t obese, depressed, suffering from diabetes or tooth decay before, I’m even more not suffering from them now I’ve given up sugar, which seems pretty conclusive. On the minus side, Monday, which is usually a mere two days away from Wednesday, was a very, very long time ago; also, I’m fast becoming alcoholic on the basis that gin is permitted on a sugar-free diet, though I’m vague on quantities allowed. Best not to check.

“Guess what?” I say to Miles.

“This better not be about sugar,” he warns. Probably quite tired.

Friday: We go to Romy’s Kitchen, an Indian restaurant in South Gloucestershire, chosen by Ian. This is unusual because Ian - who likes a simple life on the basis that he finds any other type confusing - often becomes weepy and emotional in Indian restaurants. The overwhelming sense of choice offered by menus with numerous subsections makes it hard for him to believe we’re not alone in a godless, hostile universe, filled with pain and futility. Or something. But he’s heard good things about it, including the fact that Romy herself is pretty amazing. The first Indian woman to be head chef and sole owner of a UK restaurant, she has brought her Bengali childhood to life in the form of fantastic-sounding food - in Thornbury, of all places. (Though, with her own spice mixes, sauces, pickles and chutneys, her cooking styles are from all over India; plus she raises money for charity, gives talks to schools, and is passionate about the environment. What a girl!)

So we arrive at Romy’s early, sit outside in the car for a bit, noticing – and this is the only negative thing I’ll say, so bear with me – that whoever painted the restaurant with subtle understated colours for stylish daytime dining probably didn’t ever view them in half-light.

Moving on, however, everything else is MARVELLOUS. The waiters, who look about school age, are nevertheless two of the most well-informed, characterful, helpful and intelligent front-of-house ever. Especially Josh, who wears his charming yet self-contained air of irony like a University Challenge captain for Merton College, Oxford. Truly helped make the evening.

Between Ian’s helpless tears, we order a range of dishes, including a delicately spiced (there are no nasty surprises at Romy’s – if you want the heat upped, just ask) marinated paneer, crab cakes, and an absolutely delicious murgh malai; followed by a slow-cooked lentil dal, and a lamb rogan josh Kashmiri style, which really show off Romy’s light but effective touch. The joy of the food lies in the fact that it’s beautifully cooked; not the slightest bit gloopy; and you can really taste the gingers, the garlics, the creams, the chillies, without being wrestled to the ground by one demanding flavour. Really enjoyable and very reasonably priced: main courses for meat dishes are around the £10-12 mark, while veggie options (a good range, of course) start from £6.50. You need at least a rice side-dish but, at £2.50, it’s also good value. Best of all, nearly all of it is gluten-free. Romy, you absolutely deserve your accolades. This is Indian food at its best.

So good is it that I can’t resist breaking my sugar fast - what harm can it do? – with a rose-water and spiced rice pudding: light, creamy bliss. Sadly gorgeous.

Could be my imagination but the potholes seem particularly bad on the way home.

• Ambience 6

• Service 8

• Food 8

• Value for money 8

Romy’s Kitchen, 2, Castle Street, Thornbury BS35 1HB, 01454 416728;

Our restaurant reviews are completely independent. Katie arrives unannounced and pays for her meal.

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