The owners of Babar Elephant have totally made this historic building their own.
At least that was my excuse for initially failing to remember that my girlfriend Becky and I had also visited the building in one of its previous incarnations - Rastelli’s Italian restaurant.
The building seems really well suited to use as an Indian restaurant. Although it apparently dates back to 1686 - and I would love to know more about its history.
Having received a friendly welcome, we were offered the chance to sit in an area near the bar, order drinks and study the menu while we waited for our table to be readied.
I settled for a coke, while Becky had her usual pinot grigio.
As well as the classic dishes you would get at most Indian restaurants there is a huge choice of signature, barbecue style, and steak and fish dishes.
We had both worked up an appetite, so, unusually for us, we went for both poppadoms with chutney (£1.20 per tray) and starters.
Our starters were pretty similar. I had ‘hoppers’ - crisp rice pancakes with scampi and meat filling (£3.95).
Becky chose duck spring rolls, also in rice pancakes (£3.95). Both starters were hotter than expected, but very tasty.
As we finished them, we were already filling up and wondering if we had bitten off more than we could chew.
But there was thankfully a sensible gap between courses and we were raring to go again by the time our mains arrived.
We had both dared to be a little different. Being a Midlander, I’ve sampled many a balti in my time, but never before with monkfish (£13.95).
I was pleased to see the dish arrive in a traditional metal pot. It was nicely spicy, a medium-hot, with green peppers but not over-powered by tomatoes, a common balti faux-pas. It was an enjoyable dish, comfortably above average.
Becky had chosen one of the signature dishes, bazari chicken (£13.95).
This comprised strips of marinated chicken in olives, onions and pepper with a dash of wine. Being one for a milder curry, she was glad to report that the tasty sauce wasn’t too hot.
Having both somehow managed to clear our plates, this time we really were done, and there was no prospect of us managing desserts.
The bill came in at a reasonable £50.45 and I would happily return to Babar Elephant.
There was a relaxed family-friendly atmosphere, the service was good and we at no point felt rushed.
Most importantly of all, the food was of a decent standard.