High Street, Wadhurst
Tel: 01892 782 051
Quintessentially English is the setting for Simply Indian. Incongruous? No not at all. A nation that holds chicken tikka mossala dear to its heart as its favourite dish should surely endorse food created to this standard. Wadhurst is a beautiful village sitting high on the Kent Weald not far from Tunbridge Wells and is steeped in history. It would have made it into the Doomsday survey of 1086 had it not already been owned by the Arch Bishop of Canterbury. Listed buildings abound, it looks a bit like the set of a period drama.
The revived and recently refitted Simply Indian has a mission. That mission is to make Indian food healthier. I can’t think of a better reason for eating here. The dining area is split level which gives it a slightly more interesting dynamic that if it was flat. The interior unlike the rest of Wadhurst is modern and stylish. Exposed bricks along one wall while the rear is completely covered in a mirror, which gives that illusion of a much larger place. It seats sixty and has a small bar area.
The three of us were hungry when we arrived having driven from London, easily done in about an hour. The menu is comprehensive to say the least. We started ordering with rumbling stomachs. Possibly a mistake, the portions are good here. A mixed starter was a good way of accessing the talent in the kitchen and it didn’t disappoint. The sheek kebab was very popular with our seven year old. As he ate most of it, a testament to the taste as it was quite spicy. Chicken takizee was barbequed with garlic and herbs and served with raita. This was what the seven year old ordered but preferred ours! It tasted good and garlicy. The only disappointment was my lamb chop sizzler, which was indeed sizzling but there was not much lamb and what there was had been overcooked so was a bit on the tough side. All three came with well made and fresh salads.
Wadhurst has at least two celebrities who clearly value their privacy (as we didn’t see them!) That rock guitarist’s guitarist Jeff Beck has lived here since the mid seventies and a more recent addition is Television presenter Davina McCall. I don’t know for sure but I doubt she invites family and friends over only to vote them out one at a time, but you never can be sure.
We moved seamlessly onto the mains. This is where we came unstuck as we simply ordered too much. I had a tandoori mixed grill, which I really enjoyed, like the sizzler it arrived super hot and sizzling. The chicken breast was superb, succulent and full of rewarding taste. A chicken chilli fry with lemon grass was as you might expect quite hot. The first clue were the whole dried chillis carefully placed along the ridge of the dish. It had a wonderful earthy feel as if it had been smoked at some stage. I really liked it. Our son has a weakness like the rest of the nation and simply adores chicken tikka mossala. He was not let down, a rich creamy sauce with large chunks of chicken he described as “delicious” I’d have to agree. Three nan breads arrived as well (do you see how hungry we were?) of which the garlic and coriander was the winner but all were good and totally oil free. Perfect for dipping in sauce guilt free. The enjoyable lemon rice was very lemony, mushroom bhaji and Bombay potato were both independently full of flavour. The prices are good here, about £5-6 for starters and £10-12 for mains.
Because of its celebrity status we were waiting to see if Big Brother was watching over us as we left but found that Wadhurst had nothing so sinister to offer, in fact it had more of a ‘Silver Lining’ in the form of Simply Indian. Make the journey here and you will be presented with well-cooked healthy regional Indian and Bangladeshi food surrounded by locals who won’t be surprised to hear you’ve travelled far.