The restaurant trade is a fickle one so to be celebrating 24 years in the business is quite an achievement – one the team at Moghul Premier in St Annes are rightly proud of.
OK, so the happy anniversary sashes in the window are a little confusing: I had a moment’s panic outside thinking the whole place was shut for a private function before reading more closely, but the sentiment is in the right place.
On a Tuesday night the place is hardly heaving – there’s a joke to that effect when I ask if they can fit us in. Not that a busier dining room, and a few more lights in the modern-feeling dining room, wouldn’t have gone amiss, but the bottle of South African Chenin Blanc we order arrives promptly, and along with the obligatory papadoms.
Thanks to the anniversary celebrations, the Sunday a la carte banquet offer (£9.95 for two courses and either ice cream or coffee) has been extended to the whole week.
The mixed kebab starter is tender tandoori chicken, a crispy onion bhaji and chicken shami kebab. The chicken is a pleasant, more delicate alternative to the usual lamb, the meat giving more chance for the spice combination to shine.
The Moghul menu, just like at its sister restaurant, Lytham’s Red Fort, gives great prominence to speciality and signature dishes.
My wife steps out of her comfort zone to order Dhaniya Mehek, a nicely spicy chicken dish, with roasted garlic, garden mint, chillis and tomatoes.
I decide on the Balti Silsila, a Punjabi country speciality (or so the menu tells me) which puts a new spin on the classic dish. Both dishes arrive freshly cooked, piping hot, and perfectly sized.
The chicken dish has that chilli fieriness but plenty of flavour, the cooling mint alongside the chillis and peppers proving a real taste sensation and ensuring that although the choice deserves it’s three chilli rating, it isn’t overpowering The bell peppers and plum tomatoes in the balti give the dish an unexpected sweetness, perfectly complementing the blend of spices. There’s a certain chilli kick, but it’s far from the dominant flavour in the delicious sauce, mopped up to the last drop with a garlic and coriander naan.
Pud is included in the price and I’m a sucker for a good kulfi (Indian ice cream) – mango in this case, a cool treat for me while my wife enjoys a coffee.
There are plenty of Indian restaurants out there. But it’s hard to argue with a place which, along with The Red Fort, has been going for nearly a quarter of a century.
The menu is innovative, the staff attentive and, with the wine flowing, our quiet Tuesday night visit is a delight. With the bill, including booze, coming in at just £44, it doesn’t break the bank either.
In fact, I’ve got chance left to pop to the pub and raise a pint to, hopefully, 24 more years for the Moghul empire.
Name: Moghul Premier
Address: Orchard Road, St Annes
Phone: 01253 712 114
Opening times: Monday to Saturday 5pm to Midnight, Sunday 1pm to 11pm Parking: On street nearby
Disabled access: Steps to door
Worth a visit for: More than your average curry
One thing I’d change: More light please