Getting a really good curry is not always easy. But this is one place where you can be sure of authenticity, as owner-chef Sarajit Chanda is from Bangladesh and knows how to turn top class local Irish ingredients into mouth-watering dishes.
Set off Ardee’s main street, there’s plenty of parking in front of the house. Inside, there’s a bar to the left, where you can have an aperitif while reading the fairly detailed menus - and also the daily blackboard specials, that are placed in front of diners and explained before orders are taken.
When your food is ready, you are shown through to the dining room, which is comfortably set up with velvet covered high back chairs in sumptuous colours - and simply laid tables, which suggest that the food will take centre stage.
The two/three course weekday early dinner menu offers excellent value and there’s a Midweek Special on the same days, offering four courses and a glass of wine or beer. Both of these menus include onion bhajis and vegetable spring rolls among the choice of starters and, while the main courses on all menus include the traditional Indian curries that are the star attraction here, there are also other choices.
European influence is seen in dishes such as lemon and herb chicken, topped with sun-dried tomato pesto (served with caramelised carrots and chive mash), and there’s a nod to other Eastern traditions in, for example, prawn and chicken stir-fry with scallion, spinach and red peppers in oriental sauce.
But it is the Indian Taster Menu (for a minimum of six people) that showcases what Indian cookery is all about. Beginning with a range of five starters that includes vegetable samosa and gobi pakora, it continues with the curry selections that have earned this restaurant its reputation, including lamb rogan josh, kerala prawn curry, beef madras, tarka dhal and Ma Aruna’s chicken curry.
Served with all the traditional accompaniments – poppodoms, a choice of pilau and lemon rice, garlic and coriander naan, and Indian salad – this is a treat for curry lovers.
Friday night is Thali night in Fuchsia House, where diners can celebrate the arrival of the weekend with a special menu offering four types of curry, with rice and Indian bread, at an attractive price.
Service, from well-informed and friendly staff, is helpful, and – although wines are offered too, of course – the drinks list specialises in beers to match the spicy food.
Sarajit Chandra and his Irish wife Sarah Nic Lochlainn travelled widely before settling down in Ardee, and they take pride in using only the best local ingredients. They have several related enterprises, including Fuchsia Event Catering and the excellent Aruna range of artisan sauces, which are made by Sarajit Chandra to recipes from his mother, Aruna, and quite widely available from selected outlets in the area, including Sheridans Cheesemongers at Carnaross, and beyond (see website for list of stockists).
Sarajit also gives very popular hands-on cookery classes, where participants can learn not only Indian cooking but also how to use local produce in Irish meals.