The last time I went to the Marina I’m embarrassed to say that I was that girl obsessed with army combat trousers, football and trainers (don’t worry, I grew out of it). I don’t really journey to this side of town to watch the latest 12-rated film or (try to) smash my friends and family at bowling anymore.
Instead of swapping my shoes, I came out to try one of the newly opened restaurants, Blue Mango. It’s an Indian oasis tucked away in a rainy, grey-skied corner of Brighton (this evening at least), which welcomes us in out of the cold. The décor is a majestic mixture of gold and red, warming us from the moment we walk in. Combined with friendly staff ready to greet us in traditional Indian dress – think rich fabrics and intricate detailing – we are happy with how our Monday evening has begun. It also has a large blue light brightening up the main restaurant as a nice contrast.
We were shown to a booth with a low lamp hanging over the table that really added to the atmosphere. I’ve always enjoyed a good curry, although recently I’ve shied away from super-hot foods as I’ve completely lost my knack for coping with spice. I was glad to be distracted when we were recommended a Georgian wine with floral notes: Marani Alazani Valley, which perfectly whet our palates.
As we waited, we were given complementary papadums with four dips to choose from. Though our starters took a little longer than expected, we were certainly not disappointed when they finally hit our table. My favourite has to be the tandoori seabass that literally melted in my mouth pretty much instantly and whose perfect searing was complimented by its flavour. We also had Akbari Lamb Chops, which looked and tasted great though but could have had some more meat on the bone. We were served Lasooni Khumb too – the most tenderly cooked stuffed mushrooms I think I’ve ever eaten. The starters (ranging from £4.75-£8.95) were accompanied by beautifully sculpted garnishes such as onions, cucumbers and radishes shaped into flowers and petals that, despite being par for the course in Indian restaurants, were a really nice touch.
On the next bottle, we were recommended a drier Marani, called Mtsvane, which went nicely with the main. After a welcome gap between courses, our mains were served. As a seafood lover, I opted for the King Prawn Karahi (£11.95). The succulent prawns were perfect with slightly crunchy onions and peppers cooked in with the sauce. The spices (ground to order for freshness)
took nothing away from the taste of the prawns, which were divine. My dining partners had the very tender Punjabi Deg Sey Lamb (£10.95) and the flavoursome vegetarian option, Dal Makhari (£6.95). By this point we were rather full (to put it gently!) so we opted for bread instead of rice to accompany our mains. The naans are made from scratch – the best, we thought, being flakey and full of coriander.
Executive head chef Rakesh Kumar came to our table to make sure we were happy. Cooking since the early 1980s in Delhi, he explains that his grandfather inspired his line of work. He keeps his standards high and will work outside of the menu for customer satisfaction.
Fit to burst, dessert arrived. We had warm cinnamon sponge with homemade vanilla ice cream served in a martini glass – gorgeous. Eventually we waddled out in the cold, wondering if eating out would ever be the same again.
Blue Mango is at 1 Boardwalk, Waterfront, Brighton Marina BN2 5WA
Words by Freya Hughes