Windsor isn’t the first place one might think to visit when one is struck by an overpowering urge to eat Indian food, not just any Indian food but the most delicious, the most innovative. The Mango Lounge has made its mark over the last couple of years and has won several awards including The Windsor Express 2009 Restaurant of the Year.
The Mango Lounge is one of the new breed of stylish and contemporary Asian restaurants which rely on quality of dishes and elegant ambiance to attract the diner. The attention to detail here is evident from the second you arrive. The decor is thoughtful with accents of tasteful Indian crafts.
The Mango Lounge menu is the work of Head Chef Ashwani Kumar and his team, with support from celebrated TV cook, author and former restaurateur, Mridula Baljekar. This is refined Indian cuisine, reflecting dishes from several regions of the subcontinent. Ashwani has worked in renowned kitchens such as that of The Cinnamon Club in Westminster, one of the most respected Indian Fusion restaurants in Europe. He has introduced a degree of culinary sophistication which is almost unheard of outside the capital.
A sizzling platter
A chef with such a pedigree offers “chef’s recommendations” which were always going to be worth trying. We sampled the striking Tiger Prawn Martini. I had expected this to be a prawn cocktail in a martini glass. The reality was somewhat more impressive. A shot glass layered with a selection of contrasting colours of chutneys; the tiger prawn had a crunchy rice coating and was moist and tender with no hint of grease from the deep-frying; the martini element was indeed a dash of real martini and married very well with the other flavours.
Scallops are notoriously tricky to cook. That is to say they are easy to cook but are unforgiving. A second or two too long in the pan and the delicate flesh takes on the consistency of a pallid hockey puck. Samundri Moti was a great showcase for the scallops. They were seared to delicate tenderness and were presented on a mound of coriander and green pea mash. Attractive and vibrant.
They say Chicken Tikka Masala is Britain’s national dish. Chef Kumar offers a Trio of Chicken Tikka which has little in common with the dry and unappetizing articles so often served in regular high-street eateries. Each morsel of succulent meat had its own distinct marinade. A sizzling platter of aromatic and delicious chunks.
Perfumed with fenugreek
Mango Lounge main dishes are an inspired and diverse collection not often seen in Indian restaurants. The names take the diner on a culinary journey across the subcontinent, from Murgh Hydrabadi to Delhi Style Chicken, which is another of the chef’s recommendations. This is a dish of pieces of chicken cooked in a tandoor and then simmered in a tomato-based sauce perfumed with fenugreek. It’s subtle and moreish and once tried will be a dish you’ll be tempted to order time and time again. Nothing wrong with that, although you would miss out on some other marvellous tastes.
We were anxious to try chef Ashwani’s award-winning dish of Lal Maas. This is a rich and flavourful dish of lamb originating in western India. It’s marked with three red chillies on the Mango Lounge menu, denoting fiery heat. It was with a degree of trepidation that I approached the first forkful. I once had a nasty experience with a vindaloo and vowed to have no more dealings with food carrying a warning. I had no need to be anxious. There was heat in this dish but tempered with depth of flavour. Morsels of lamb are first marinated in yoghurt and spices and then cooked with chillies, cumin and coriander. The resulting meat and sauce has character and is quite rightly considered a signature dish.
A reputation for quality
The meal had been copious and memorable, and a soupçon of something sweet made a contrasting end. The dessert list here is a cut above its competitors, if indeed there are any in this area. Cardamom Warm Spiced Chocolate Mousse, and Ginger and Cinnamon Kulfi were more inspiring than the usual fare of gulab jamun, although that’s one of my favourite of Indian sweetmeats. My guest chose the Coconut and Lime Brulée which has had a good press. It did not disappoint. I chose the Ginger and Lime Sorbet as a palate-cleanser and refreshing cooler. It was tangy, exotic and delicious. A light must-try for those who have not managed to restrain themselves from the tempting previous courses.
The Mango Lounge has earned a reputation for quality. It’s an attractive restaurant which plies its visitors with award-winning dishes. You won’t return here because of the certificates or medals, but because those dishes are tasty, the staff attentive and the prices reasonable. It’s no surprise that this restaurant enjoys regular clients who appreciate the best of contemporary Indian cuisine.
9 Datchet Road, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1QB
Phone: 01753 855576
Fax: 01753 859309
Visit Mango Lounge here
Lunch: 12.30 – 14.30
Dinner: 18.00 – 22.30 (23.00 weekends)
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018