THE name of Kuti where curry is concerned in Hampshire is synonymous with great quality and service.

For those who live further east from Southampton and haven’t experienced the family’s flagship restaurant in Oxford Street, a trip to Kuti's of Wickham is highly recommended.

Set just outside the market town's quaint square and having opened just three-and-ahalf years ago, the restaurant is already firmly established as one of the region's most respected Indian restaurants.

Split into two sections with a polished granite reception area and bar in the middle, the interior is decked out in the unmistakable Kuti purple décor, albeit toned down and less conspicuous somehow within the intimate surroundings of this quaint building.

The aubergine banquette seating seems to work a little better against the silvery flock wallpaper and they've gone a little easier on the neon.

Every customer is greeted warmly first by the doorman dressed head to toe in full regalia and then by restaurant manager Aziz Rhamen and it's clear that loyalty is never taken for granted.

The menu is vast, but the helpful waiters are always willing to make suggestions to put a bit of spice back into your choice of dish.

Most importantly, the quality curry that has built such a formidable reputation in Southampton has had no trouble skipping across the few miles to Fareham Road.

Adraki lamb tikka, marinated in crushed ginger and cheese and glazed in the tandoor, and a stunning vegetable platter were the highlight of my family’s memorable starters plucked from a menu that took half an hour to properly consider over crunchy popadoms and tartly tangy lime pickle. With mustard and fresh coriander in the yoghurt marinade, they were juicy and tasty and gone in a flash.

Whatever your taste, you only have scan the menu to find heaps of other tempting offerings, like the seared sea bass with crushed garlic and red chilli, meaty crab and potato cakes infused with coriander and mint leaf, variations on marinated barbecued chicken – even duck.

Starters range from about £4-£6.50 but be warned the portions are very generous, so don't spoil your main courses, which at around £8 or £9, are also very reasonable.

So duck it was – the batak plum-do-pyaza – which was the star of the main round. A Hyberabadi speciality with chillies, caramelised onions and plums in a rich sauce that was best mixed with mushroom rice and scooped up in a hunk of soft and chewy garlic naan.

This was a bit more expensive but simply delicious.

A friendly team of staff shuttled everything back and forwards and were happy to swap chicken for king prawns in a bangla dish that was bursting with sweet and sour flavours, its spicy sauce finished with fresh cream and coconut.

Along with a classic dish of chicken makhani, a spread of side dishes such as spinach with potato, chick peas and tarka dal (lentils with garlic) made for much lip smacking and contented stomach patting.

As usual, we had no room for dessert - despite the menu being full of tempting specially- prepared ice creams, including my personal favourite, coconut.

But, as ever, Kuti’s had provided a memorable night.

With Christmas just around the corner and two special set menus with brand new dishes on offer at either £21.95 or £16.95 a head for three courses followed by coffee or tea, booking is essential.

Get in early… you have been warned!

simon Straker ■ Kuti’s of Wickham, Star Corner, Fareham Road, Wickham PO17 5DJ. Tel: 01329 835353. Web:

Open seven days a week, 12-2.30pm and 6pm to midnight.