April 27th, 2007


The Blue Naan, Felixstowe

A bright, modern Northern Indian restaurant at 7 Hamilton Road, Felixstowe, Suffolk IP11 7AX (Telephone: 01394 671779) just at the top of Bent Hill.

Our poppadoms arrived immediately with a fine selection of pickles. The lime pickle was of a heat to enhance rather than hide the lime flavour. The raita had a delicate flavour, and the onion salads were sweet in one case and dryly spicy in the other. The mango chutney was a bit sweet for my taste but it was well-made.

Our starter was a chicken roll from the special menu. The spicy mixture of chickpeas and other vegetables was served in a deep fried puri roll, just like some Indian burrito. It was a fine dish, which deserved better than to have its name forgotten by this diner.

Our main course was lamb pasanda, chicken kashmiri with banana, aloo gobi, mushroom sag, peshwari naan, and mushroom fried rice. This assemblage illustrated the restaurant's real strength. It was possible to identify the individual flavours in each dish. The lamb still had its own sweetness separate from the pasanda sauce but gently shaped by it. It was possible to detect the delicate flavours of potato and cauliflower alongside the oily spices in the aloo gobi.

Humayun and Tahir Hussain (sons of Anwar, the owner) were attentive managers; one from behind the bar, the other walking the floor. The service was very effective throughout. This seemed to be effected by task-sharing. Although the restaurant appears to be zoned, the waiters were cheerfully delivering drinks and food outside their zone; I suspect that anyone leaving the kitchen would serve anything that was waiting there.

Typically of this latest generation of sub-continental restaurants, Blue Naan is crisp in its cuisine and decor.  For me, it is the best of its type
in our area (southern East Anglia) and makes a good partner for my favourite local 'traditional' English Indian restaurant: The Maharani in Ipswich.

Mean Mr Mustard

Mean Mr Mustard is Andy Pearson in covers mode. Originally, Mean Mr Mustard was just Beatles and Stones covers. Other iconic songs soon joined the set: Twentieth Century Boy, Wonderwall, Elvis numbers, and Yellow. Andy is no mimic. With his shiny Yamaha guitar, versatile voice and frantic energy he attacks each song and takes it on a whirlwind dance around the room. Every song ends with his wild whoops of self-applause before he dives into his next enthusiastic romp.

Mean Mr Mustard loves his audience. He talks to them all the time. Mid song he may comment on his own performance, respond to a comment, or exhort participation. Listening to Mean Mr Mustard involves clapping, shouting, singing along, and joining what amounts to a conversation. At an indoor venue Andy's exuberance is confined to arm waving, shouting, and thrash; outside he will be leaping in the air.

At Shoka in Felixstowe tonight, Mean Mr Mustard occupied a corner at the front of the narrow bar to the left of the entrance. The bright bar is recently refurbished in clean colours with black leather seating and pale wood tables. This is very different to the smoky snugness of the pubs and the outdoor festivals in which Mr Mustard normally plies his trade. This evening the atmosphere compromised the set; under full lighting, most people are too self-conscious to let themselves go and join in. And tonight only the more outgoing were singing along or answering the calls. The audience did not live up to the performer.

Roll on Saturday 12 May, when Mean Mr Mustard plays The Buregate pub, Sea Road, Felixstowe.