Cardamom Bay review: the classic Bognor Regis curry house has still got it
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If you take one thing away from this review, make it this: Try the Sag Roll.
It’s basically a kind of Sag-Aloo – Arancini hybrid: paneer cheese, spinach and mashed potato rolled into a ball, covered with bread crumbs, deep fried and served in a tomato sauce so rich it would have the Dolmio man chewing through his puppet strings in a jealous rage.
Not that you can go wrong with anything else. Cardamom Bay won the Chichester Observer’s restaurant of the year award in 2018, and it’s been a mainstay in Bognor Regis almost as long as I’ve been alive. Owner Kamal and his team have carved out a niche for themselves in the heart of a very tough, very competitive space. Walking in, you can see exactly how. Sharp-dressed waiters ferry trays of food to well-laid tables, bubbling water features and tasteful decor give the restaurant a contemporary ambience, and the food (get that Sag Roll!) is incredible: generously portioned and cleverly presented.
Hearty as it is, the Sag Roll is only actually a starter. Eager to show me everything the restaurant has to offer, Kamal suggested a number of the restaurant’s specialties when I sat down and the roll, as well as some equally tasty fried prawns, was his first pick.
The second course was just as special, though, comprising a rich, flavoursome plate of Bengali chilli chicken, and a new-to-me style of curry called a dilurba. The chilli chicken, with its tender meat and robust spices, was beautiful, but it’s the dilurba that really stood out. A two-tier curry with chicken, herbs, spices and vegetables, it’s more or less defined by the coconut and almond sauce on the bottom half, which gives the dish an almost surprising sweetness that goes well with the deeply savoury flavours at play everywhere else.
These are big portions, too. Between what I could manage of the two curries, some pilau rice and a gorgeously filling garlic naan, I was happily stuffed. If you’re going to Cardamom Bay any time soon, consider skipping lunch. That’s a lot to ask of anyone, but know you’re in good hands. This is some of the best curry in Bognor, and there’s plenty to go around.