As a family we love Indian food, it is my teenager daughter and dad's most favourite food ever. Those who know us will know that every year for the last eight years we have actually gone to our local Indian restaurant for Christmas dinner instead of having traditional turkey. So when I was recently invited to Le Raaj Indian restaurant in Chester-Le-Street, near Durham I knew that I would have to take my dad and teenage daughter with me and my dad's partner Linda.
Located in Chester Moor, near Chester-Le-Street on the A167 you can not miss Le Raaj housed in an old Victorian chapel. With plenty of free on-site parking and a bus stop right outside (although I have no idea which buses go past) getting to Le Raaj was really easy and only a half an hour drive from our home near Newcastle.
When entering the restaurant we were warmly greeted and showing to our table, the restaurant is rather big and spacious when inside but it has lots of different areas making it cosy and perfect for a family meal or date night. The decor inside was really nice and modern with a rather hypnotising water bubble wall feature and lots of little Buddhas dotted around.
We visited on Saturday lunchtime to try out the amazing value lunch time menu which is just £8.95 for three courses available Saturday to Thursdays 12-2pm. Perfect for dining out as a family or catching up with friends. With the lunchtime special, you can pick one starter, from a selection of four, one main from a selection of nine popular dishes and then you can select either plain basmati rice or a plain nan to accompany your main. You also get either ice cream or coffee to finish. As a family who dine out at Indian restaurants a lot I think this is amazing value.
We did order a portion of poppadoms and pickles to start the meal with which are priced at £1 per person. We also ordered soft drinks which were around £3 for a pint, they do have a very well stocked bar if you prefer something alcoholic. For starters, myself and Chloe went for the Tikka Chicken, consisting of three generous chunks of marinated Tikka chicken and a side salad. The chicken was marinated and cooked to perfection, nice and tender and packed with flavour. My dad ordered the Sheek kebab, which was two lightly spiced minced meat kebabs served with a side salad. He really enjoyed this dish and declared it to be delicately flavoured and very morish.
We all ordered differently for mains Chloe went for Chicken Tikka Masala, I opted for the Chicken Rogan and my dad ordered Chicken Biryani. Being a lunch time special I was expecting the mains to be smaller than you would normally get, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were exactly the same sized dishes as you would get if you dined in the evening.
The mains arrived as soon as we had finished the starters and each dish looked and smelt truly mouthwatering. The rice was cooked perfectly, nice and soft and perfectly seasoned. My chicken Rogan was bursting with flavour, you could taste the fresh tomatoes, peppers and garlic and it worked wonderfully alongside the tender chunks of chicken in the dish. The perfect dish for someone like myself who does not like anything too spicy but is not a fan of creamy sauces.
Chloe always orders Chicken Tikka Masala wherever we go and this classic dish did not disappoint. Topped with flaked almonds the rich and creamy masala sauce was probably the nicest that I have ever tasted (I obviously had to taste it myself for research purposes). My dad enjoyed his dish too. The mains were quickly cleared away and we were offered desserts of ice cream or coffee which again were served very promptly. The service we received was really good, the waiters were all friendly and welcoming and cleared the plates very quickly when we finished, however, it did feel a little rushed.
Overall we did really enjoy visiting Le Raaj the setting was really nice, the food was delicious and amazing value and the staff were polite and attentive. When I go out for lunch, especially with my younger children I love really quick service and I like to be in and out of a restaurant quickly, dining for lunch at Le Raaj would be perfect in this instance. You do need to be aware that the restaurant does actually shut at 2pm so you need to be finished before 2pm, so I would recommend visiting around 12pm when it opens so you can enjoy a full three-course Indian meal at a fantastic price. I will certainly be returning again myself in the future.
My dad's partner Linda did not eat the main meal (she had poppadoms and salad) when we dined at Le Raaj as she has a medical condition and is unable to eat certain foods. We were made aware that food is cooked fresh to order and they are happy to cater to special dietary requirements.
Disclosure I was provided with a complimentary meal for the purpose of this review.