The Rice Boat has been around in Cambridge for quite a while (since 2005, according to the website), but it’s just far enough out of town in the wrong direction that I hadn’t been until recently. A Keralan restaurant, this does a lot of speciality fish dishes…not aimed at a vegetarian and a fish allergy sufferer, but the rest of the menu is interesting enough.
Everything about the place is quirky, from the crazy paintings including that of a very stern Indian woman to the toys in the fireplace, and it does feel a bit like being in someone’s front room. The staff are brilliantly friendly and up for a bit of chat, though the time for the food and a cup of tea to arrive was excessive (they knocked the price of the tea off the bill without being asked). The food was really good, and worth the wait. Shame it’s a very little out of the way, as I highly recommend it.
We started with onion vada, strips of very lightly battered onion with a homemade vinegary tomato sauce. Very moreish. My friend had a parotta, which was beautifully flaky, to dip in his Syrian Christian curry, a chicken and coconut stew which he enjoyed a lot. I went for the masala dosa platter, which had a light sour dosa stuffed with mild potato curry, a small portion of dhal, 2 coconut pastes, and a bowl of mini lentil flour doughnuts. Added to this was a ginger curry paste (very potent) and a mango pickle (hot and sour, with a lingering flavour). It all went very well together.
We even went for desserts; a pistachio kulfi which was small and rich, and a gelab jamun which were small balls of dough absolutely drenched in sugar syrup served with a delicious home made vanilla ice cream. The balls were way too sweet for me, but if you have a sweet tooth they will suit you better. Masala tea was a let down, as I like a more custardy type, but the lime soda was excellent (we had 5 between us!), and the dessert wine was a good addition.
Address: 37 Newnham Road, Cambridge, CB3 9EY
Telephone: 01223 302800
Directions: Head along the backs past Kings College, and it’s on the left just past the Granta
(A version of this review was originally posted by me on VT)