Restaurant reviews

Voujon: a classy curry choice in Edinburgh

We’re big curry fans and over the years we’ve found a few firm favourites to satisfy our spice yearning when visiting Edinburgh. One that we hadn’t tried though is Voujon on Newington Rd so when we were invited there for a meal we were pretty excited, all the more so when we looked at the menu online.

The restaurant is in the Southside neighbourhood of Newington, a 25 minute bus ride from the West End although we did later establish that we could have driven and found somewhere to park (restrictions on side streets are lifted at 5.30pm). However, with Scottish drink-drive limits now fairly draconian, the bus is the obvious answer if you want to enjoy a couple of glasses of wine with your meal.

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We were greeted warmly by the owner and were instantly impressed by the ambience of the restaurant which, even at 6.30 already had four or five tables occupied. It exuded an air of quiet sophistication – no flock wallpaper or posters of the Taj Mahal here! There was discreet music playing which in no way prevented people from chatting, the tables were nicely spaced and laid with starched linen tablecloths, stylish cutlery and a single orchid in a small vase. Everything looked sparkling clean and elegant – this was definitely a classy establishment.

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We started with poppadums and a pickle tray which consisted of mango chutney, lime pickle and onion relish. On a purely personal level I’m a fan of the minty raita type accompaniment for my poppadums and I felt momentarily disappointed that there was none included. However, I swiftly became a convert to the lovely mango chutney and I did notice later that raita could have been ordered as a separate item.

The menu is relatively extensive but we had done our homework beforehand and had a good idea of what we fancied! To start with I chose the King Prawn Pathia with Puri, which was something new for me whilst my husband plumped for one of his favourites, the Aloo Chat, a potato-based vegetarian dish.

The food was beautifully presented on stylish white china and we wondered whether it would taste as good as it looked! I’m glad to say it did!

My prawn dish was generous: two puri (an unleavened bread) topped with plenty of king prawns in a delicious spicy, sweet and sour sauce and on reflection this starter would have been suitable for us to share. Although puri are deep-fried these were not greasy to the palate in the slightest and were the ideal medium with which to soak up the sauce. The prawns really tasted of prawns which may seem an odd thing to say but sadly this is not always the case! This is a reflection both of the quality of the prawns used by Voujon and the fact that the sauce was not allowed to overwhelm the shellfish. It was tasty but delicate and the coriander, a favourite herb of mine, was able to shine through.

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The potato dish could not (in my humble opinion) hope to compete with the delights of my prawn starter but my husband polished it off with gusto and pronounced it up there with the best of them. The potatoes had not been over cooked (always a hazard for any potato side dish) but had nevertheless absorbed the multiple flavours of the hot and sour sauce.

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There were many contenders for our mains: the sea bass sounded interesting and is not something you see in many curry houses; on the other hand the King Prawn and Bindi combination had my taste buds excited but then I’d have to rethink my prawn starter; my husband is a lamb chop fiend so he was tempted by the Punjabi Lamb Chops or even the Assorted Tandoori but would that be too much?

After much negotiation we decided to go for none of the above but to share the Lahori Lamb Curry and the Green Herb Chicken. The lamb dish came with pilau rice included and we plumped for a peshwari naan as well. As it turned out the rice would have been enough for both of us but then we would have missed out on the lovely fluffy, flavoursome naan so in the interests of research it’s a very good job we over-ordered!

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We also decided to have a side of Brinjal Bhajee. We are big fans of aubergines and know exactly what we’re looking for so Voujon’s Brinjal was about to be put through an exacting test, which I’m pleased to say it passed with flying colours! The pieces of aubergine had been cooked to perfection and had not been allowed to become mushy and neither had the two pieces of tomato in there. They had a lovely delicate smoky flavour which complemented the Bhuna sauce beautifully. Most importantly the dish had not been eked out with random pieces of potato which, horror of horrors, we have noticed happening in other establishments. This was a pure unadulterated Brinjal dish which was one of the highlights of the meal!

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The lamb, a Pakistani dish, was quite unlike a nehari which is the only other Lahori lamb dish with which we are familiar. The cubes of lamb had been cooked in an unctuous tomato and onion based sauce and the taste of fennel, mint and fenugreek combined to produce a delicious flavour to complement the melt in the mouth lamb. The fact that we were not quite able to finish the dish is a reflection of our over-ordering rather than our enjoyment of the dish!

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The chicken did not disappoint either. It too was moist and extremely tender, which is sometimes difficult to achieve with chicken. The delicious herby, spicy sauce spoke of fresh coriander and fenugreek leaves (an ingredient which I’m more familiar with as a spice but truly delicious) and was topped generously with chopped spring onions.

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If you’re a conservative curry consumer you’ll be glad to know that alongside the more unusual dishes on the menu, Voujon also offer the more familiar dishes such as Chicken Tikka Masala and Madras.

House wine was available by the glass (£3.75) or the bottle (£12.50). There was also a good selection of wines around the £20 mark and the bottle of Chilean Merlot which we opted for proved a good robust accompaniment to the food. With M&S’s Indian wine selling well it might be nice to see an upmarket restaurant like Voujon giving it a try on their wine list.

By the time we finished our meal the restaurant was two-thirds full but the owner still found time to have a chat with us as we enjoyed a complimentary liqueur. He explained that with the Edinburgh Festival in the offing they would be pulling in the crowds, including various bookings for large parties of fifteen to twenty people, who would be seated in a separate area, thereby ensuring that other diners could still enjoy the lovely ambience that we had experienced on our visit. He was proud to tell us that their chef had been with them for ten years. With him producing the sort of food we sampled let’s hope Voujon manage to keep tight hold of him for the future!

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