After 26 hours of travelling from his new home in Australia and an early-morning arrival at Heathrow Airport, we expected our son to be ravenous after a jetlag-busting kip.

He’ll want one of his mum’s delicious Sunday roasts, we thought. But no. Fully refreshed, he bounded down the stairs and asked: “Can we go for a curry at The Ancient Raj?”

Now mum could have been a bit miffed by this - her little boy (26 years old and about 6ft 2ins in his Converses) had been living Down Under for a year and surely he missed his mother’s cooking. But actually she didn’t mind - there’d be enough cooking over the holiday period, and she fancied a curry at the local Indian restaurant anyway.

The Ancient Raj is one of those cheery places that offers a warm welcome, and serves up hot food. It won’t win any prizes for gastronomy, but the dishes are many and varied, and you can be reasonably adventurous if you so choose.

I’m normally Mr Predictable when I visit the Ancient Raj and merrily tuck into a chicken madras, but tonight I broke with tradition and had khakra jaipuri (£12.90), which is white crab meat prepared with finely cut chilli, onion, tomato and spices. I had it with pilao rice.

The menu has a little red chilli symbol by this dish’s entry, which means it’s fairly hot - two chilli symbols mean “very hot”, and this would have been appropriate for my dish, which set a match to my taste buds and cleared my nasal passages in seconds. It was certainly a winter warmer, but its spiciness rather overpowered the flavour of the crab.

There was plenty of it though, which was just as well because I was hungry.

My son enjoyed his chicken tikka masala (£8.90) with pilao rice, which he wolfed down, while his mum had chicken shajahani (£8.90) with mushroom rice, a dish cooked with honey, cream, yoghurt and a special almond sauce.

This was something different for her, and she enjoyed it, describing it as spicy and quite sweet. The near empty plate in front of her said it all.

It’s fair to say after that lot plus sides of dum tori (courgette slices in a spicy sauce), aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower in a spicy sauce) and a couple of keema nans (nan bread stuffed with minced lamb), we were stuffed. But I needed something to cleanse my palate and decided I had room for dessert.

The dessert menu had pictures of a variety of multi-coloured and in some cases lurid dishes on offer, but I chose a nice simple ice cream. Well it was fairly simple - I had pineapple ice cream, which came in half a frozen pineapple. It was refreshing and tasty, and I’d have happily tackled the pineapple too, but it would have taken hours to thaw out.

The Ancient Raj rarely disappoints, and on this fairly special occasion we had a good time. I don’t want to describe the restaurant as predictable - it’s comforting, something that’s reinforced by the friendly welcome every customer receives, plus the tasteful decor, which has recently had a freshen up.

And we reckon a bill of £77.30 for three, including drinks, was reasonable.

It’s a place worth travelling from Australia for.