I HONESTLY didn’t know what to expect from the universally praised Atul Kochhar’s newest restaurant, nestled on the banks of the Thames at Marlow.

As the first ever chef to be awarded a Michelin star for Indian food, his reputation is in no doubt.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t shake a lingering fear of an ultra-modern approach that might throw the baby out with the bathwater, and with it all I hold dear from a lifelong love affair with the British curry house.

But presented on arrival with a tasteful bowl of bitesize, melt-in-the-mouth poppadums with the freshest mango chutney this side of Tamil Nadu, I knew I was in good hands.

A little while ago, Kochhar told me he had his eyes on the restaurant at the idyllic riverside Macdonald Compleat Angler Hotel for some time, and was outbid last time round.

The aptly named Sindhu - meaning river, or water - takes in a panoramic view over the Thames, and though just a few strides from the hotel’s wood-panelled piano bar, peacefulness reigns in the cool, calm restaurant space with a noticeably different ambience.

While Chicken Tikka Massala fans won’t recognise most menu items, many classic Indian dishes are represented and Kochhar has delivered on his promise to scour India for the best regional flavours.

A tasting menu is also available (£48 pp) for those willing to let the chef do the hard work of guiding you through what Sindhu has to offer.

To start, my girlfriend Tori ordered Tiranga Murgh (£9) - a heavenly trio of chicken morsels, all totally different. The saffron-infused piece was a sheer joy, and startlingly tender.

I’ve probably ordered a hundred Seekh kebab starters (£10) in my time, but this one infused with basil and drizzled with mint was the one I’d been waiting for - simple, soft, salty, sublime.

Tori’s main took me straight back to Kerala, where my family had feasted on near table-size plates of this sort of multi-coloured, exotic tiger prawn dish.

Her Tawa Jhinga (£20) had flavour on all fronts, especially the punchy tomato and tamarind sauce, but afforded the VIPs - the soft, delicate prawns - enough room to shine under their textured curry leaf and lentil crust.

Here’s where I received a curveball. The Bathak Falliyan (£18) intrigued me so much I had to order it. Duck breast on a three-bean stew? Sounds more Paris than Punjab.

And while the duck breast was achingly tender - probably the best chunk of the bird I’ve ever eaten - I remain puzzled by the stew.

It was delicious and earthy, but even with a garnish of coriander cress, it seemed out of place among its peers with a distinctly European flavour.

However, I’m no widely travelled expert in Indian cuisine, and it’s possible I just didn’t ‘get it’, but scooping it up with a crispy, paneer and coriander infused kulcha bread (£3) did seem odd.

This anomaly aside, the spread was impressive and reassuringly familiar, with touches of class like the basmati rice served in pewter pans and the thick, textured green ceramic serving dishes.

It felt like Kochhar - cooking for us when we visited - was having fun when it came to dessert.

My Chocolate mousse (£7.50) was imbued with such theatre it was hard not to grin, as the hot chocolate sauce popped the top off the delicate chocolate globe containing the smooth mousse.

The passion fruit gel shot through the richness with a refreshing zing, dragging you straight back to the tropics.

And over the table, the Bhapa Doi (£7.50) rose yoghurt cheesecake was smooth and creamy, with a tart raspberry hit pulling the whole thing together.

If anything sums up Sindhu, it’s the amuse bouche that appeared early on. A single, deep-fried spiced potato bite on a bed of intense mint gel.

The familiar sub continental flavours were all there, the evocative spices I know and love powered through and it was quintessentially Indian; yet refined and elegant.

In a parallel universe, all British Indian restaurants would have evolved like this rather than the garish pantomime we see all too often.

Yes, it’s more expensive, but it’s the philosophy that counts, and Kochhar has largely got it spot on, without the urge to reinvent the wheel.