An original, independent review by :
Tucked into the bustling high street of Charminster is Joy, the newest Indian restaurant (so far) to make its mark on the multicultural strip of eateries.
Charminster in Bournemouth is known for its diversity in culture and cuisine, what with an assortment of Tapas joints, Mezze restaurants, American diners, Brasseries and a plethora of bars. It’s no surprise then, that within the space of a few months, two Indian eateries opened up just doors from each other on Charminster high street. And if that wasn’t enough in the way of competition, Lal Bagh sits firmly at the end of the main strip and has done, comfortably, for as many years as I can remember.
So what has Joy got that the others haven’t? How does it stand out from the crowd? A special lunch menu is a good start, Joy offer a lunchtime deal including a choice of chicken curry and rice or Naan at £5.95.
Inside Joy is modern and fresh, complete with cream leather chairs and simply dressed tables. The place is immaculate though, and even as I step through the door a young smartly dressed man just finishes hoovering the main area.
I browse their extensive menu as I take a seat by the window. Most people enjoy views of vast green scenery, the beach or blue waters, but stick me in the centre of a bustling high street and I’m happy. I prefer to people watch, and nosily enjoy the sight of students, families, business workers and lunchers get on with their day-to-day business.
The waiter takes my order, hurrying back after delivering it to the kitchen, to chat to me. He’s charismatic, and inquisitive. A talkative 21 year old, he certainly makes my wait for food a little more interesting. “Everything’s fresh” he says, “so food will be out in 15, okay?”
I don’t mind waiting a little longer if I know it’s prepped then and there and tuck into my dips and poppadoms. There’s mint yoghurt, mango chutney, onions and a bright red sweet dip with a feisty chilli kick. I ask what’s in it, and I’m firmly but jokingly told: “I’m not telling you madam. Secret ingredients!”
The Lamb Samosas, £2.75 are worth the wait, freshly made and deeply filled, the tasty triangles of crisp filo are generously stuffed with subtly spiced lamb mince. The Sheek Kebab, also £2.75 is my favourite of the two starters, and as I expected a brightly coloured cylinder of meat, this one is brown – the way meat should be! I’m glad that in this case, Joy haven’t gone down the unnecessary route of food colouring, and aloud the meaty, again subtly spiced, lamb mince to do the talking. Served with a few dressed leaves and a ‘cheffy’ drizzle, I’m pleased at the modern but not over-complicated way in which the food is served.
The main course is much the same. Instead of being heaped high in a metal dish like so many other Indian eateries, my Chicken Dhansak is placed simply, and neatly on a piping hot, white plate. The chicken is moist, and the lentil sauce is of medium heat. The accompanying fried rice is tasty, and the addition of a Peshwari Naan adds an extra added sweetness to my meal.
The food at Joy has a certain freshness to it, although my visit was on an early weekday lunchtime, I was made to feel comfortable, and everything I ate had that undeniable freshness and appetizing look and taste.