The Gurkha restaurant

The Lion and Fiddle

Devizes Road

Hilperton, Trowbridge

BA14 7QQ

01225 776392

Parking: large car park

Disabled access: Yes

Food 9/10

Choices 8/10

Decor 8/10

Customer service 8/10

Main course prices: From £8.50-£12.95

TripAdvisor rating: 4.5/5

NEPALESE cuisine isn't something you find in every town in the country, let alone every village. The new owners of the Lion and Fiddle pub in Hilperton (the name is unique, by the way) are from Nepal, so it was natural to them to replace the existing restaurant with one that showed their pride in their heritage and its cooking.

The previously rather dark dining rooms have been redecorated with bright white walls covered with a collection of paintings of Nepal, art and Nepalese symbols, and when we first walked into the dining room a background soundtrack featured tinkling Asian music - soon drowned out by the hubbub of conversation, for the restaurant filled up very quickly indeed.

So what does Nepalese food feature - and how is it different from the dishes from other Indian and Asian countries?

From our experience, it fuses Indian and Asian dishes, so as well as curries, rice, various naan breads and poppadoms there were dishes based on noodles and milder spices, and dumpling-type starters.

The tastes range from what they describe as strongly spiced food - clearly marked on the menu for those who aren't fans - to much milder and more delicate flavours. Portion sizes may not look enormous but we found a starter and a main meal more than filling, and were a little disappointed not to have room for pudding.

Lamb and chicken feature quite heavily on the menu, along with seafood dishes, and a generous selection of vegetarian side offerings which you could easily combine to make a complete vegetarian meal.

Having wolfed down the complimentary poppadoms, we both began with grilled tandoori-style starters. My Sekuwa (£4.95), chunks of tandoor grilled meat with a spice coating, was perfect. The lamb was lovely and flavourful, served in thick chunks.

My husband went for the butterfly king prawn, and found himself (£5.25) facing a huge prawn, crispily coated but not fried, again with a salad serving.

For the main course, not knowing how spicy the food would be, he had ordered Manang chicken (£8.50) in its milder variety, and said after the first bite that he wished he had gone for the hotter option.

Wanting to try something different, I chose Koshi Ko Maccha Tarkari (£12.95), a house speciality featuring fillets of tilapia, a fish I had never eaten before, in a coconutty and quite mild sauce.

The fish was meaty but completely tender, with a texture quite new to me, The nearest fish I could compare it with was something like plaice, as it has some of the same melt-in-the-mouth feel. The sauce was creamy but thick at the same time, and if the mention of coconut means you think it would be like a korma, you'd be surprised, because it's a deeper more velvety texture and taste. I enjoyed it, but did find it increasingly salty as the meal went on.

We had a dish of pilau rice apiece (££3.75) and shared a plain naan. Like all the other dishes, this was distinctly different to the naan bread you'd find in an Indian restaurant, being round, lighter and more puffed up.

All the food had a very healthy feel to it, free from too much oil and with more steaming using in the cookery.

Our meal, with drinks (beer for him, red wine for me) came to £53.50 and was delicious, a really original experience we will be back to repeat.

Alison Phillips