All aboard the curry train; HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE VALLEY JUNCTION 397, ONE OF JESMOND'S MOST FAMOUS RESTAUARANTS, WRITES WHAT'S ON EDITOR GORDON BARR.
THIS month The Valley Junction 397 is marking two decades since opening its doors in what was Jesmond's old train station.
During its 20 year reign, the family business, owned and operated by brothers Daraz Aziz and Locku Rahman, has tickled the taste buds of thousands of diners, collected a handful of industry awards and welcomed a host of famous faces.
The restaurant's journey began back when the entrepreneurial pair, who have been part of the hospitality industry from a young age after their father opened the North East's first Tandoori restaurant, Moti Mahal, found the perfect location for a new eatery in the centre of the busy suburb.
This prompted an extensive conversion of the old station, including the renovation of a railway carriage into the main entrance and downstairs seating area, which continues to be a focal point today drawing in visitors from the region and beyond.
The carriage was originally built as a saloon for wealthy families to hire for journeys, numbered 397, which paired with the brothers acquiring the restaurant in March 1997 provided the restaurant's namesake brand.
Launching in summer 1997, The Valley Junction 397 has become known for its selection of expertly crafted dishes inspired by traditional recipes from the Indian subcontinent, combined with an undoubtable authentic charm.
Forming part of The Valley Restaurants group, which also comprises The Valley Corbridge and The Valley Connection in Hexham, the restaurant opened six years after the arrival of the first venture in Corbridge.
In charge of the Jesmond kitchen is Locku, along with chef Tipu Sultan who has been in post for over seven years. Many other members of the kitchen and front of house teams have enjoyed long-standing careers with the restaurant, building close relationships with loyal customers over the years.
The culinary offering has been recognised with a number of sought-after awards and accolades, including Most Original Indian Restaurant in the UK from the Curry Club of Great Britain (1998), Best in Newcastle from Hardens (2010) and Best in the North East from the Cobra Good Curry Guide (2013/14).
Prestigious listings have additionally been collected most recently from The Telegraph and Olive Magazine, as well as placing in The Observer's Top 40 Indian Restaurants in 2001 and The Guardian's Top 10 Indian Restaurants in Britain in 2009, to being a finalist in the Best in the North East category in the British Curry Awards (2015).
This award-winning status and unrivalled reputation have attracted celebrity diners to the restaurant and its sister sites, from AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson and members of Oasis, to Alan Shearer and several other NUFC legends, as well as former managers including Kenny Dalglish and current club owner Mike Ashley.
Special events have also formed part of the last two decades; from charity dinners and family occasions such as birthdays and anniversary celebrations, to welcoming TV crews from ITV and BBC to film programmes about the restaurants.
Locku said: "Reaching our 20th anniversary is a huge milestone for the restaurant - time flies when you're having fun! From the moment my brother and I viewed Jesmond's old station we knew it was just right - and the rest is history.
"Since opening for business we've welcomed countless diners and to this day I still enjoy meeting our guests, ensuring each and every one of them is made to feel special. We're a family-run restaurant and always go the extra mile to deliver a personal touch, from as simple as remembering our regular diners' favourite tables and dishes."
In 1994 the brothers launched "The Passage to India", popularly known as "The Curry Train" - an escorted train service from Newcastle, Carlisle or any train station along the Tyne Valley line to the Corbridge restaurant which resides in the old station house. This building is the oldest occupied station house in Europe and the oldest existing station building in the world, having been built back in 1835.
Passengers are greeted by a traditionally dressed escort who accompanies them on the train to the restaurant. During the journey, drinks are available while food orders are placed, and upon arrival guests are seated before enjoying a five course dinner.
Daraz added: "We opened our first restaurant in Corbridge in 1991 - a real dream come true. Following its success, six years later we embarked upon a second venture and are thrilled to have enjoyed 20 years here in the old Jesmond station.
"We now own three restaurants after launching a third in Hexham in 2001, and operate our unique Curry Train experience which we were thrilled to bring to the North East food scene. We're looking forward to marking our 20th year in Jesmond and hope our customers new and old come and join us in celebrating our birthday month."
|For more information call 0191 281 6397 or visit www.valleyrestaurants.co.uk.
Owners of The Valley restaurants brothers Daraz Aziz and Locku Rahman
Opening of Pita and Brew at Newcastle
The Valley Junction 397
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)|
|Date:||Jul 27, 2017|
|Previous Article:||Night out staple goes skyward; TAKEAWAY KEBABS AT NEWCASTLE AIRPORT? YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT, WRITES WHAT'S ON EDITOR GORDON BARR.|
|Next Article:||GIRLS TRIP.|