ANYONE who walks into an empty restaurant would admit to feeling some trepidation about what's in store, writes JAMES ROBERTS.

Despite the positive TripAdvisor reviews and the 'good' food hygiene rating - and the fact it was 6pm on a Sunday - a sea of vacant tables is rarely a good sign.

Thankfully, the food at Little India dispelled my doubts.

Firstly, a confession: this wasn't my first experience of the Didcot Broadway restaurant, having treated myself to a takeaway from there sometime last year.

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Back then, while waiting for my order at prime time on a Saturday night, I was struck by how few tables were occupied.

Fast forward to earlier this month and I decided to see if anything had changed.

Sadly, the restaurant was even quieter than I remembered - a great shame considering the quality and range of the menu.

Just two waiters appeared to be on duty during our two-hour stay and both were friendly and polite, occasionally checking we were satisfied but generally leaving us in peace.

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We started with the obligatory poppadoms (£0.70 each) to save ourselves for the main course, despite the wide range of meat, fish and vegetable-based starters.

Our group of four vowed to do justice to the extensive menu, which featured several dishes in sections such as the predictable tandoori and biryani offerings, alongside about two-dozen specials.

Among those was the Didcot dansak (£7.95), a light and fruity alternative to a sometimes pungent dish, which retained its essential rich texture.

It was pleasing to see this nod to the town, distinguishing Little India from just any old restaurant, while my choice of the railway lamb (£9.95) also caught the eye.

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I'm a sucker for a dish that promises authenticity, with the menu describing a 'unique memory from the past' that 'was usually found in the railway stations in India'.

The beautifully-cooked lamb was complemented by chunks of pepper, onion, green chilli, tomato and cinamon, with a tingle of spice to top it off.

The remaining main courses were more traditional. The chicken jalfrezi (£7.95) was attractively presented and slightly milder than expected, as was the chicken rogan josh (£6.95), which went big on tomatoes but successfully offset the spice.

Alongside the pilau rice (£2.50) and peshwari and keema naan (both £2.95), we left feeling full and content. The food was excellent, but the lack of custom perplexing.