WHERE other restaurants try their darndest to distinguish themselves from the crowd, with locally-provenanced food, personality chefs or touches of character in the decor, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Wagamama and most of the Indian restaurants we have eaten in cultivate that generic feel.

The night we visited Cowes Tandoori, we could have been in Cowes, Shanklin or even Leicester.

Cat often thinks she should be more adventurous when choosing in an Indian restaurant but an unfortunate experience with an unexpectedly pokey cauliflower bhaji elsewhere has led her to be over-cautious.

So chicken tikka masala it was.

This richly-coloured curry was nicely-presented with a sprinkling of flaked almonds, chopped coriander and a twirl of cream.

Those chunks of chicken we all know and love were present and correct and, despite tea-light plate warmers no longer being de rigeur, it was plenty hot enough temperature-wise.

She enhanced it with a spoonful of mushroom bhaji and mopped the juices with floppy warm naan bread. A standard hearty curry — welcome on a wet autumn evening.

The Cowes mixed biryani was Matt's attempt at finding something unusual and, to be fair, there was a slight murmur of surprise from Cat as the dish arrived with a curious little omelette on top of it.

The biryani came with a mixture of prawn, lamb and chicken, and was a warming, enjoyable dish.

The omelette was possibly more of a garnish than an ingredient in itself, but it was a conversation piece if nothing else.

Perhaps the best bit of the biryani was the accompanying vegetable curry, which was packed with vegetables and spicy taste, the perfect complement to the main dish.

So, Cowes Tandoori. Attentive service, reasonably priced and all as expected.

The food was perfectly acceptable, not particularly memorable, but that's where we spin back to the beginning of this review.

We don't know how curries can be so samey. But there you go.

Maybe there is something comforting about knowing your favourite dish will just as good as it always is, wherever you go.

Can so many High Street Indian restaurants be wrong? We don't think so.

The good old British Indian meal is an institution to be treasured, and if you want an epitomic example of this style, Cowes Tandoori will not let you down.

Matt and Cat's bill

Poppadoms and chutney £3

Mixed biryani £13.95

Chicken tikka masala £9.20

Mushroom bhaji £4.75

Pilau rice £3.20

Plain naan £2.90

Total £37

Three stars a decent place that we’d recommend.

Read a longer version of this review, and others, at Matt and Cat's Eating Out Guide.

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