Review: Punjabi dining at Sachins, Forth Banks, Newcastle

Finding a decent restaurant ahead of a gig that's well placed between the station and the arena can be a bit of a tall order in Newcastle.
Sachins, Forth Bank, NewcastleSachins, Forth Bank, Newcastle
Sachins, Forth Bank, Newcastle

Ahead of Pete Tong’s Ibiza Classics, we fell back on an old faithful to line our stomachs for the arena’s extortionately priced drinks. Situated on Forth Banks, in the shadow of the Centre for Life, Sachins is ideal for an en-route meal.

They’ve always been well versed in dealing with arena crowds and the waiter checked with us on arrival to see if we were there for the show so they could juggle the covers accordingly.

Pickles and poppadoms at SachinsPickles and poppadoms at Sachins
Pickles and poppadoms at Sachins
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The distinctive restaurant with its pitched roof and period-style windows has been at Forth Banks for three decades – and since 2000 has been owned by Bob Arora – but has entered a new chapter recently which has brought it bang up to date. Gone is the tired looking red and white decor to be replaced by a more contemporary colour scheme of tasteful Farrow & Ball hues, with a rich deep blue wall contrasting well with bright orange artworks, which sets it apart from more run-of-the-mill Indian restaurants.

The food on offer is equally as colourful and has a strong focus on authentic Punjabi cuisine, instead of too-hot-to-handle curries loaded with dye.

There’s a large range of dishes on offer on the menu, which is easy to navigate, and a particularly extensive selection of chutneys and pickles and no less than 11 types of freshly-made flatbread.

To start I chose the panchrattan paneer tikka, which is well priced at £5.95 for a generous portion of this classic dish. I was presented with three hunks of this traditional curd cheese, the delicate flavour of which was enhanced, but not drowned by, a subtle blend of spices.

Chingri tandoori main.Chingri tandoori main.
Chingri tandoori main.
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After preliminary pickles and with a side of tandoori nan (£2.45) to get through, I chose another starter for my main – the chingri tandoori (£9.95).

It’s a lighter dish than most on the menu and comes as a sizzling dish of king prawns, served on a bed of salad and chargrilled onions. It had the same attention to flavour as my starter, thanks to the subtle but effective masala which worked well with the smokiness of the tandoor oven.

I also enjoyed mopping up the rest of our pickles and chutneys with the fresh nan, which was just the right side of chewy and perfect for tearing into.

Although friendly, service was a little slow considering we’d been asked about whether we were attending the gig nearby, but we still managed to make the first act – not slow enough to put us off returning, however.

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To shave some pennies off your bill, head to the Sachins website where you can download a voucher for a free bottle of wine, which can be used from Monday to Thursday on gourmet menu choices

On site parking is at a premium (though it’s rare to have any in Newcastle), but with most people drinking inside there was still a handful available if you’re driving through.