Vujon: 29 Queen Street, Quayside, Newcastle
Sumptuous would be an understatement. Richly garbed in gold paired with multiple tones of brown, Vujon’s dining room was elegant and comfortable. Thick swathes of velvet material hung across windows while pristine table cloths and wine glasses adorned the tables, sparkling in the low light. Service was subtle and quiet, wonderfully so. The diners were seated fairly close together at one end of the restaurant though far enough away so you didn’t feel as if you were eavesdropping. Been a quiet Sunday, you can see their reasons for organising it so.
Poppadoms arrived swiftly with a cucumber raita, mango chutney and a diced onion relish. The mango chutney was not as sweet as usual but a lovely consistency, the raita just a touch sour and the onion relish adding that texture and tang. The only problem was that there wasn’t enough! We skipped on starters and headed straight for the main courses.
Chicken chettinad was mildly spicy, the chicken falling apart effortlessly at the prod of the fork. The sauce was a little oily but had an interesting sweet flavour; a nice touch. Murgh tikka jalfrezi was hot as it should be but altogether a bit bland. Chatrhi, a side dish of fresh mushrooms was juicy and meaty, small mushrooms coated in a moist sauce while Subz Meloni, the mixed seasonal vegetables, was all a bit pureed and congealed to be of any real texture of flavour. Peshwari Naan was a vast pillowy bread that was light and fluffy but there was too much almond paste in places, oversweetening it and at various points it had hardened to a less tasty crisp. Tandoori Boro Chingris, was prawns served sizzling over a bed of charcoal, fat and juicy with a rich garlic sauce. The side-salad was fresh and colourful and very plentiful. The garlic naan was some of the best I’ve tasted – a similar texture to the peshwari but with a fierce tang of garlic that most naans are devoid of, despite their name.
Pistachio kulfi was brought in a twisted cone shape, scattered with pistachio nuts. They were horribly dry, no crunch at all, though the kulfi was creamy with a refreshing flavour. Variety of ice cream was dire; no, it’s not Indian, but if you’re going to serve it then at least try to do it without shards of ice penetrating the scoops of ice cream and the yellow-orange shade to the “strawberry” flavour was more than a little off-putting. It turned out to be mango; I’m not sure whether the waiter or the producer got it wrong…
The menu is extensive and the dishes under something special look like a good area to explore if you’re a little bit of a risk taker and enjoy Anglo-Indian cusisine. I wouldn’t say Vujon offers anything more traditional than other Indians I have reviewed on here and the value isn’t great. The food is fresh and enjoyable but there is a bit too much oil and not enough flavour at times that hinders a higher score. Definitely worth a visit though and the service and surroundings were impeccable.