I’m always dubious when someone tells me they’ve discovered the best Indian restaurant in Ireland. More often than not, it turns out to be very good indeed – but also very, very similar to most Indian food served in Ireland. Seven pieces of identically shaped chicken or lamb, swirling in lots of sauce, and served in a silver bowl with rice on the side.
So I took numerous recommendations for Ananda, an Indian restaurant in Dundrum, with a pinch of salt. Even though I had high hopes, I was expecting more of the same.
We arrived at about 6.55pm, five minutes before the end of the early bird offer – €20 for two courses. The maître d’ offered a warm greeting and assured us that we weren’t too late. We were led through the stylishly decorated restaurant to a very comfortable table, where our conversation was stopped dead in its tracks by the menu.
Wow! What a selection. Guinea fowl with potato mash and black lentils, garlic and butter infused tiger prawns – not your usual Indian selection at all. I opted for a starter of Cardamom and mace spiced chicken supreme with mint chutney, which also came with a beetroot relish. Immediately, I could see this was far removed from the norm. My friend chose the pan-fried potato cakes with spiced peas and date chutney. Both starters tasted as good as they looked.
Our mains pushed the boat out even further. An Old Delhi style chicken with tikka masala sauce saffron Pulao was served as a full breast, on the bone, with a flambé finish, adding a nice blackened crispyness as a contrast to the soft, succulent chicken meat. It was topped with a well-considered onion relish. Extraordinary.
My own main, a Mangaloran fish curry with basmati rice, was faultless: a generous serving of very fresh tilapia in a perfectly complimentary sauce – also finished off with a gorgeous and imaginative relish. The naan was light as air and freshly baked.
We happily stayed in this busy, buzzing restaurant until 9.15pm, only leaving because we had a cinema date. The very professional waiting staff made us feel we never wanted to leave; indeed, we would have been very welcome to stay for longer. I’ve heard the desserts are something really special here.
Ananda’s head chef, Sunil Ghal, has been widely acclaimed and deservedly won last year’s Food and Wine Chef of the Year award; the restaurant also boasts Michelin starred chef Atul Kochhar on the team. Don’t be surprised if Ananda wins its own Michelin soon.
As well as one of the best early bird deals in Ireland, Ananda has a €45 tasting menu and a very tempting tapas lunch from Thursday to Sunday, where you can pick up four tapas with biryani or curry plus tea or coffee for €16. Can’t wait to try that too.
Ananda is well worth a special trip to Dundrum – hop on the green LUAS line and you’re right there.
- Ananda, Sandyford Road, Dundrum Town Centre, Dublin 14. Tel: 01 2960099 for bookings.