Norwich: The Clipper

As Bengal Spice it used to be the epitome of the tradition curry house. Now its sleek and modern. SARAH BREALEY find The Clipper is an Indian restaurant that has the wind in its sails.

As Bengal Spice it used to be the epitome of the tradition curry house. Now its sleek and modern. SARAH BREALEY find The Clipper is an Indian restaurant that has the wind in its sails.

Quirky, arty St Benedict's is one of my favourite streets in Norwich – and the eating and drinking oppor-tunities do not let it down. You could perhaps whet the appetite with a pint of Grain Brewery's IPA at the Plough before visit-ing The Clipper for that all-important curry.

The Clipper used to be Bengal Spice, and is clean and modern in appearance without being shiny. Some internal partitions help to break up the space, and it is equally good as a venue for a meal for two or for larger groups.

I always think poppadoms are obligatory in an Indian restaurant, and anyway they satisfy my impa-tience to put something in my mouth, as well as providing an op-portunity to compare how the dif-ferent pickles vary between restau-rants. These ones included your standard mango chutney and chopped onion, as well as the mar-ginally more unusual tamarind sauce, which distinguished itself further by actually tasting of tama-rind, which has a fantastic tangy flavour, both sweet and sour, which you can generally only find by mix-ing separate ingredients.

There is the standard selection of lagers, but we had the house red wine — J P Chenet , which I ha-ven't drunk in literally years, but was more palatable than I had ex-pected.

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To start properly I had the chotpoti, a new dish to me. It was a spicy chick pea mixture, flavoured with tamarind, and garnished with slices of boiled egg and green chilli. The other half had lamb tikka, which was enjoyable but did not have the spiciness from the marinade that he was expecting.

For a main course the other half decided to try another new dish (at least to us), the lamb xacuti, which is a Goan curry flavoured with fen-nel seed, ginger, garlic and cloves. It had plenty of complex flavours without being overly hot. The only criticism was that the sauce was quite oily.

I had the vegetable dansak, a fairly hot, slightly sour dish with a lentil sauce, which had absolutely nothing to complain about.

Vegetable side dishes are half the fun in Indian restaurants, if you ask me. What could be better than an excuse to eat even more curry?

The kudu, or pumpkin, was a lovely blend of sweetness from the pump-kin with gentle spices, although it too was perhaps a touch oily. This was not the case with the bhindi bhaji, or okra, which was a nice light dish with bright-green pieces of thinly-sliced okra.

We ate these with some pilau rice and a feather-light naan bread, which was scattered with sesame seeds.

Service was welcoming and effi-cient – the requested glasses of tap water even materialised quickly, which some restaurants find more of a challenge than it should be.

We passed up the opportunity of desserts, though there was a menu with the now traditional offerings of frozen desserts - kulfi, chocolate and caramel ice-cream, orange sor-bet 'served in the skin of the fruit' (the menu did not use precisely these words, but you get the idea) and so on.

Actually, any slight craving for something sweet was satisfied, if not by the orange segments which arrived along-side the hot towels after the main course, then by the chocolate eclairs (the sweets, not the patisserie) with the bill. Or as the Real Ale Drinker put it: 'We had orange in the skin of the fruit, followed by chocolate eclairs in the skin of the wrapper.'

He later instructed: 'Don't make it sound like I am criticising the chocolate eclairs - they were great!'.

And by and large, so was the rest of it.

The Clipper

St Benedict Street


01603 613444

Prices: Starters from �2.50, house speciality mains from �5.25, set menu for two people �24.95 (�4 extra for king prawn)

Vegetarian options: Lots

Open: Mon-Sat 12pm-2.30pm and 6pm-12am

Wheelchair access: Yes