Restaurant review: Okra Restaurant, Friargate, Derby

I’m hooked on the Great British Menu where I’m seeing variations of curry appear on menus from all regions. Curry is now a de facto firm British favourite, ranking high on top favourite cuisines in the UK. According to one survey, over 23 million people eat curry regularly* and I can only envisage this number to steadily rise.

With the popularity of curry going from strength to strength, restaurants are really having to up their game when it comes to pleasing diners. Step in Okra, who have placed the customer at the heart of their business model and elevated themselves above the white noise with sophistication and panache.

I have dined at Okra before, and have returned a number of times. Nestled on Friargate, Derby, this Indian restaurant promises authentic food and a unique dining experience.

Everything about Okra is elegant, from the polished doors leading to the concierge, to the table setting.

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You are always guaranteed a warm welcome; I have yet to visit where I don’t feel heartened by the pleasant friendliness of the front of house.

After being seated at our lovely table, we ordered a few glasses of wine and perused the pre-theatre menu. I started with hot meat puri (tender lamb, fiery sauce, puri), which blew my mind. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be craving a chilli kick every so often, and the meat puri didn’t disappoint. The spicy sauce coating the delicious lamb was beautiful and moreish. The fried puri bread was the perfect accompaniment to this slightly dry, chilli heavy sauce. This is one of my favourite dishes on the menu, and will continue being so, in all its effortless glory.

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Dining partner had trio of lamb chops (coated in special marinade, cooked over charcoal). She found the meat to be tasty and succulent, and the portion size really generous.

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For main, I had tawa chicken (tender chicken tikka, medium spices, yoghurt). Now, do you ever find yourself in noncommittal mood? If you’re stuck between a creamy curry, or spicy curry, go for this tawa chicken. It’s a beautiful balance between paprika spicy, and luxurious soothing creaminess, which will have you swiping away every last bit of this curry with pillowy naan, it is that darn delicious.

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Dining partner had the daal tarka (lightly spiced lentils, garlic, cumin). Don’t be fooled by this humble dish, whose charm lies in its simplicity. The pulses were melt in your mouth, whilst the thick broth was a pleasure to slurp. If you’re dining from the main menu, you also have the option of ordering this daal tarka as a side for just £4.95.

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Sides of lemon rice (Basmati rice infused with lemon) and naan (unleavened flat bread cooked in clay oven) were very good. The lemon rice was perhaps a little too tangy for me and I found the lemon pieces just a little too large (not a criticism, just a personal point). Next time I’ll go for good old pilau rice, which is more my thing.

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Okra boasts an extensive menu, with an excellent pre-theatre dining menu, 2-for-1 Mondays, and 20% off takeaway orders on both collection and delivery.

Service is hands down, the best in Derby. This, coupled with stunning curries that make you happy, makes Okra one of the best curry restaurants in the East Midlands and beyond. For authentic curry that reminds you of mum’s cooking, head on over to Okra. You won’t be disappointed.

Star Rating 1-10 (1: “I’d rather eat my own shoe, I hated it that much” – 10: “I’d pillage for a meal here”.)

Food: 10

Value for money: 9

Ambience: 9.5

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Address: 5 Friar Gate, Derby DE1 1BU

Tel: 01332 987873

www.okraderby.com

*Source which states 23 million people eat curry annually http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/0/24432750 *

*Image courtesy of GoDine*

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