BACK in March I broke the news on this page that The Star and Garter was about to change from a pub to an Indian Restaurant.
It wasn’t exactly the type of story that had Sky News down with a satellite truck but I had always had a soft spot for the Star and Garter; a real locals’ pub which previous landlord Richard had worked really hard to make work.
Sadly things didn’t quite work out and after an ill-starred time as Wenmans restaurant the Star had begun to fade.
When I visited the last time it was obvious that things had to change; when the three of us went in for a drink we doubled the attendance. Probably for the week.
The transition from pub to pub/Indian restaurant took a while and if you look hard enough there are still signs of work that needs finishing off. The temporary sign outside, a tile missing here or there, an area that needs painting where a picture previously hung. These are easily remedied and superficial things to quibble over really because from the gleaming marble bar to the brilliantly friendly staff you are made to feel welcome from the moment you enter.
We were only going in for a takeaway (and it took three of us to fetch it because we were all nosey to see what it was like inside) but manager Akmed (Ahmed? Apologies, there’s no point taking a notepad in if you are supposed to be undercover) found time to chat as we waited, telling us of the high hopes they had for the place.
They have converted a handful of other pubs into restaurants in the south of England and he proudly told us that word of mouth would be the best marketing tool: “We don’t spend too much on advertising because people come and enjoy themselves and love the food. It is all fresh and people come back and tell their friends. We are very confident.”
I peeped round the corner and found a family I know dining. They were full of praise for the way they had been looked after and their food looked great. Starving by now, after a tantalising wait I practically sprinted home with my own takeaway; chicken mad-rush anyone? (I thank you).
Naturally a new restaurant will live or die by the quality of the food, and I have to say the Star and Garter was brilliant.
From huge onion bhajis to beautifully-spiced main meals my whole family loved their curry. We had a mixture of old favourites like chicken korma and new chef special meals, and each was absolutely spot on. A warm welcome and faultless food: what more could you ask for?
As both my regular readers know, I like to see nice people working hard and being successful. Add the Star and Garter to that list.