Mango Lounge at The Chequers
Dean Lane, Cookham Dean, SL6 9BQ
Following his success in Windsor, chef Ashwani Kumar – formerly of the Cinnamon Club – now works his magic in the kitchens at Mango Lounge in Cookham Dean. Ashwani already has multiple awards under his belt, including the prestigious International Indian Chef of the Year accolade and several National Curry Week awards. Tucked along a country lane, the restaurant doesn’t suffer for its remote location. A crowd of diners had already amassed by the time we arrived, filling the dining room with the sound of convivial chatter. The older part of the restaurant – a former pub – is a warren of smaller rooms with exposed brickwork, cosy open fireplaces and flagstone floors. We sat in the small, comfortable conservatory enjoying a delightful view of the garden. Forget all preconceptions about Indian cuisine in Britain. The offering at Mango Lounge is something else entirely. The imaginatively conceived menus focus on North Indian gastronomy, bringing to bear a melody of bold flavours, complementary textures and eye-catching colour. As a vegetarian, lack of choice typically means that I’m quick to order, but here my decision-making was put to the test. I began with soya and avocado cutlets served with chilli jam. My partner’s scallops were perfectly seared and delicately spiced, served on a bed of fresh crushed peas. Mains continued to thrill us. I opted for goat’s cheese and spinach kofta balls in a rich, tangy tomato sauce with just the right amount of spice to complement the main components. My partner’s sea bass was crisply pan-fried and served atop smashed spiced potatoes with beetroot sauce. Beautifully presented on glossy black tableware, it was a wonderful example of the care and attention with which dishes are executed. Our choices were accompanied by steamed basmati rice and fresh rosemary and truffle oil naan bread. Do leave room for dessert, as they are all homemade. The mango kulfi , rose-scented gulab jamun and chocolate mousse are particularly noteworthy, however the highlight of the evening for my partner and I was our rosemary-poached pears served with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. Despite being busy, manager Kam was eminently attentive and staff were ensure we well looked after. Mango Lounge is well deserving of its continued success.