A midweek curry was on the menu this week when I heard one of Ulverston’s most popular Indian restaurants had undergone a recent revamp.

Formerly the British Raj, Aroma is found in King Street, in arguably once the prettiest of the town’s shops. Those of us who were lucky enough to live in Ulverston around the 1970s have only the fondest memories of Salmon’s bakery and café, an establishment which just oozed charm and tradition and which I am sure would top the poll of townsfolks’ most-missed shop. It had atmosphere in spades.

Does it still have that atmosphere and charm in its latest guise? Er, no. As the British Raj, it was a fairly basic type of establishment, unlikely to win any awards for interior decoration.

While the new-look Aroma is smart, clean and fresh, it lacks oomph in décor terms, with sombre dark blue and beige paintwork – and no soft touches. I went with my friend and we both remarked on how bare the place was – nothing filling the nooks and crannies of this lovely old building, no paintings and largely overhead lighting. Ambience is decidedly lacking here at Aroma.

But what of the food and service?

Then menu is pretty standard Indian fare, with the usual starters – king prawn butterfly, tandoori chicken, kebabs, samosas and bhajis – all putting in an appearance; along with a large menu of mains (prices ranging from £7 to £15), including plenty of house specialities.

We started with the classic pickle tray and poppadoms (£2.10 plus 70p a pop for the poppadoms), followed by onion bhajis (£3.10) for me and and bhuna prawn puree on puri bread for Sarah, at £3.95. Both were fine, if absolutely typical of the kind of Indian starter you would expect to get in any similar restaurant in these parts – even down to the shredded iceberg lettuce and salad garnish.

For mains I chose a king prawn Balti for £13.95, while Sarah chose a Special Delight (£9.95), comprising chicken tikka, lamb tikka and sheek kebab, with onions, tomatoes and peppers. To accompany this we ordered a plain naan (£2.55) and rice (£2.20) which, as regular readers of my reviews will know, I entirely object to having to pay extra for in Indian restaurants. Rice should come as a standard accompaniment, not an extra. With wine, this brought the bill to over £60, which is far from cheap.

Having said, if we’d got ourselves there a little earlier, we could have partaken of the happy hour, which offers pickle tray, starter, main AND rice for £12.95.

My balti was, again, perfectly fine. If that description isn’t exactly gushing, that’s because there was nothing out of the ordinary about my balti. Good prawns, a rich sauce, plenty of veg in it – it was lovely but nothing exceptional. Ditto Sarah’s dish, which she enjoyed without being sent into paroxysms of ecstasy. Mind you, in such dull surroundings I defy anyone to get excited about anything – my coal shed has more ambience than this place.

Aroma, then. It lives up to its name in terms of the quality of the food, which smells and tastes as good as you would expect of a small-town Indian restaurant. Just as well they didn’t target our other senses by calling the place Ambience. That really would have been taking the peshwari.


Food 3.5

Service 3.5

Atmosphere 2

Value 3.5


Wide variety of dishes with plenty of specials

Happy hour deals


It feels soulless

No wow factor about anything