Tuesday 22 May 2007

Hox Brasserie - Salisbury

My dad's second recommendation, also in Fisherton Street. Five minutes' walk from the central car park, this one is past the three (!) 'private' shops and the station approach, under the railway arch and up towards the roundabout. Finding ourselves there after 21:00 on a Saturday night, with no booking, there was still a queue inside, and we weren't too optimistic that we'd get in. But a 15 minute wait found us a good table at the front, and the fun started.

For starters, we chose Jalpari Pani Pat - tiger prawns marinated with turmeric and herbs, and Chicken Cafreal, marinated and grilled pieces of chicken. The menu says 'goat spices' but I can't tell you what these are. Both dishes were delicious and beautifully presented.

Ruth chose Zafrani Tikka, chicken breast marinated in yoghurt, ginger, garlic, herbs and saffron, then grilled and served with an avocado chutney. Delicate flavours, and beautiful to taste. My choice was Lamb Madras, and this was truly wonderful. The flavours were instant, the power and heat crept up on you slowly. Apparently this version is made with coconut, poppy seed and red chillies, with a final tempering of star anise and curry leaves. The waiter recommended plain rice, which was a perfect accompaniment. We also had a couple of vegetable side dishes, mushrooms, and Bombay aloo. Very good food.

This place is not cheap, but I think it has great style and it's tremendous value for money. Our selection was fairly modestly priced and our bill came in under £50, though we didn't choose to take any wine on this occasion. The chef's specials include a Lobster Pepper Fry which seems a very good deal at £22.95, if you like lobster served this way.

The owner/manager came for a chat as we finished. He's been in Salisbury for about 12 years, running a take-away. His customers kept telling him that he should open a restaurant. When the chance came, less than two years ago, he took over a former Italian restaurant, gutted it, and turned it into the 130 cover dining experience that we can now enjoy. I think he'd do fantastic business in a place like Guildford, that has a large population in its surrounding area, and a real shortage of top class Indian restaurants. For now though, you'll have to make the journey to Salisbury.

Hox Brasserie, 155 Fisherton Street Salisbury SP2 7RP. 01722 341600. Visited 19 May 2007

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