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The Viceroy – Pride of Polegate Curry House

The Viceroy PolegateHub and I prefer to dine out on a school night – Monday to Wednesday – when the tables tend to be much quieter, the service quicker and the restaurant owners grateful for the business.

So it was a Monday evening about 7:30pm when we arrived at The Viceroy for what is proclaimed on the back-lit sign above the entrance to be “Premier Indian Cuisine.”

To stay with the sign for a moment… it doesn’t instill confidence.  It’s garish with a disjointed initial panel for the word “the”, but it does catch the eye as well as clearly spelling out what the restaurant serves and telling us that they were established in 1986 (in some form or location).  In addition, the restaurant’s location, at the busy junction of the A27 and A22 heading to Eastbourne calls for something strong enough to catch the eye of passing travellers so I guess I can forgive them.

The frontage below the sign is lovely. Brick arches housing spotlessly clean window and the doorway into an inner hall, protecting diners from what would otherwise have been a chilly draught every time the door opens.

Inside, the atmosphere was one of calm sophistication with cleverly located curtaining and wooden lattice creating privacy barriers between the tables in what was not a large amount of space.  The bar opposite the front door looked inviting and the Hygiene Rating Certificate (4) was reassuringly displayed on the window.

We were warmly and respectfully greeted by our waiter who told me his name is Hock (I hope I got the spelling correct).  We were offered drinks and papadums and handed menus detailing the Indian and Bangladeshi dishes available.

The drinks menu was excellent and I was pleased to be able to order my favourite, Pinot Grigio, by the glass.  Hub selected a Cobra beer, the perfect curry accompaniment.

The menu caters well for vegetarians and vegans and the prices are extremely reasonable.

In order to compare with other restaurants, I ordered my favourites, Onion Bhaji to start followed by King Prawn Dhansak.  Hub spoke with our waiter and asked whether chef could prepare a Madras with Paneer Indian Cheese, which was not on the menu.  This was deemed no problem at all, and we also asked whether we could have Lemon Rice instead of Pilau.  This was also an off-menu item but was again readily agreed.  We supplemented with a side of Saag Aloo, Tarka Dal and a Stuffed Paratha.

Once the orders were placed, we set about making short work of the papadums.  They tasted fresh and crispy and were nicely puffed up.  Usually, we expect 3-4 dips with them but this time we received a tray with seven different flavours!  The waiter talked us through them all and I had a little of each.  I can tell you all were delicious and tasted fresh with a rich variety of tastes from mild to extremely spicy.

On seeing the Onion Bhajis I was initially a little concerned as they looked very dark and I thought they might have been over-cooked.  I needn’t have worried, however, as they were perfect – slightly crispy on the outside, floury and fluffy in the middle.  I don’t quite know how the Viceroy makes them darker than I’m used to but they were most pleasing.

I find that Dhansak is a dish that can vary a great deal between restaurants.  As such, it’s a good one to assess whether one likes a particular restaurant’s style but a bad one if you’re looking for consistency in your taste.

The Viceroy’s take on Dhansak offers us a thick and tasty sauce that isn’t over-spicy.  For my taste, it could have been a little more so.  The lentils are kept reasonably whole rather than mashed but the prawns were the stand-out ingredient, cooked to perfection.

Now to Hub’s ‘off-menu’ dish – the paneer was on the lighter side rather than dense, as some can be.  He was pleased with that but slightly disappointed that it was not Tikka Paneer.  I would guess this is due to the advance planning required to “tikka” the ingredients in the tandoor oven.  Since this was an ingredient that is not generally on the Viceroy menu, we couldn’t expect this to be the case.

Other than this, he said his dish was about the right spiciness for a Madras.  The Saag Aloo was beautifully cooked with large, soft potatoes and dense, fresh spinach.  I’ve occasionally suffered from sorry-looking, watery spinach, but this was nothing of the sort.  The Tarka Dal was thick and extremely tasty.  The Lemon Rice contained very large chunks of lemon – chunkier than I would have expected so that there was the occasional mouthful that meant chewing a fairly big piece of lemon peel.  I’m not saying it was unpleasant as I believe the lemon complements that curry very well, it was just that bit different.

We didn’t go for dessert on this occasion. I never feel I want to spoil the lingering curry flavours with a sugar hit, so we finished our drinks and took our leave with Hock graciously showing us to the door, thanking us for coming and urging us to come again.

As we have relatives nearby, we may very well be back and I would look forward to a return visit.

Viceroy has some parking to the front of the restaurant if you’re visiting by car and it also participates in the Just Eat program.  Alternatively, call the restaurant for a takeaway.  If you collect and pay cash, you’ll get 20% off the price – an excellent deal!

The restaurant is open 7 days a week, evenings only, from 5:30pm.

Viceroy Restaurant, 5 Grand Parade, Polegate BN26 5HG

Tel:  01323 485248