Posts Tagged ‘indian’

Resto 34 Chaseside Indian Restaurant, Enfield

July 19, 2017

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Warning: This post contains language.

Improbably finding myself in Enfield with a couple of friends on a Tuesday night and fairly refreshed we went in search of food. Chaseside Indian fitted the bill, it was that kind of evening.

We were surprised at how busy the room was until Tariq spotted the lure – Mondays and Tuesdays offered starter, main, side and stodge (rice or naan) for  £10.95 a head. No wonder the joint was packed with bargain hunting suburbanites.

We took a seat and surveyed the menu. This was stripped down to the classics so I went for onion bhaji, chicken naga, channa masala and rice. But first, lager. On tap there was Cobra. Now I’m not the biggest fan of Cobra but even after a day on the sauce this tasted rank. We struggled manfully through half a glassful each before giving up and asking if they had anything else. To his credit the waiter readily acknowledged that the beer was off (in that case why did he serve it in the first place you might ask) and replaced it with a bottle of Kingfisher. Serenity returned to the table.

The food was good enough, the bhaji being the highlight, the rest being adequate. I hadn’t been aware of our causing any out of the ordinary disturbance but halfway through the meal we were interrupted by a neo-Puritan of the old-baggish variety approaching our table to deliver a diatribe about our language. It was too ripe apparently.

Rather than take the obvious path of telling her to fuck off we apologised fulsomely. Perhaps too fulsomely? I hope fulsomely enough to make her feel that her journey had been worthwhile but also fulsomely enough to indicate to the chuckling couple next to us that we were taking the piss.

Told off for swearing in Enfield! Rather like being reprimanded for being overweight in Disneyworld. We settled the bill (under fifteen quid a head), made our excuses and left.

5/10

#Food #London

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 31 Millennium Balti, Leamington Spa

July 8, 2017

Having done Baba’s during Euro 2016 it was time to try their over the road rivals at The Millennium Balti. My first, indeed only, disappointment was that The MB wasn’t crewed by a Wookie but rather by a very charming young Asian feller. He did himself no harm in the tipping stakes by taking the opportunity of my son nipping to the loo to tell me that he recognised him as a regular who was ‘nice and quiet’. What this ambiguous statement actually meant I pondered then decided that it was a compliment.

On to the food. Popadoms with a choice from four chutneys were demolished tout de suite. As was a big bottle of Tiger (a snip at £2 odd), it being one of the hottest days of the year. Onion bhajis were perfect – not too greasy and a good lead in to a Chicken Rezalla which had the required amount of heat without being devastating. Despite the scorching weather a steady stream of customers came in through the door, a testament to the quality of Millennium’s offer. And at under 15 quid a head it was extraordinary value given that we’d had two rounds of drinks.

So how does it compare to across the road? Well, it doesn’t have the crazy edge that comes with King Baba’s random conversation generator approach to customer service, and I’d say that the whole product in terms of food, décor and service is at a superior level.

However, there is a place for Baba’s less polished style and so I’d encapsulate the two in this legend:-

Baba’s for mates, the Balti for dates.

8/10

#Food #LeamingtonSpa

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 26 Bhatti, Covent Garden

May 28, 2017

Half three in the afternoon is a bit of a weird time to go to for a curry but we’d been to a concert and hadn’t had lunch. On our way to Dishoom (which we knew would be open) we were surprised to see that Bhatti, which screams trad Indian, also had its doors open. So we took a punt.

Two other diners and the waiter were the only other souls in the room. Most of the other restos on this stretch of Great Queen Street have gone upscale but Bhatti has stuck to it guns and retains a whiff of the 1970s in its décor. The menu is solid British Indian staples at pretty reasonable prices for this location but how was the cooking?

Mixed. My starter of aloo chat was some watery spuds and lettuce in an insipid sauce. Reports from across the table on the state of the onion bhaji were not encouraging. However, the main of a chicken jalfrezi delivered the required heat if not being altogether a taste sensation. Good naan bread and okra compensated slightly but it was rather disappointing that two chilled mugs couldn’t be wrangled for our Kingfishers – I had to settle for the warm one.

Service was good and it was obvious that they only had a skeleton crew on for the afternoon crowd. I would hope that things improve once the evening session gets started but if you want the trad Indian in this part of London it’s a better option to hang on if you can till The India Club starts cooking.

5/10

#Food #London

Resto 23 Cinnamon, Soho

April 19, 2017

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Between the library and a gig at the Wigmore we were looking for a bit of spice. Soho’s Kingly Street being on the way we took a chance on Cinnamon, which from the outside looks rather too carefully put together in the Bills/Dishoom tradition. I was wrong to have doubts.

It was early evening so the room wasn’t too busy but it soon filled up with mostly local workers and a smattering of tourists. The menu promised classic Indian dishes with a twist (eff). But my eye was immediately drawn to the drinks – £4.80 for a pint of Stella in this part of town is a definite draw! We got stuck in to that while selecting the food.

We shared a plate of lamb shami kebab to kick off – four balls of good stuff with a couple of sauces went down a treat. For main I had an ox cheek vindaloo with masala mash and a dhal to share. The ox cheek vindaloo was a star turn – a good helping of crumbly cheek in a seriously spicy sauce. The masala mash was rather blown away by it and felt a bit unnecessary. I would have preferred a bit more thickness to the dhal but it also had a seriously deep flavour. With an excellent naan to scrape up the juices I demolished the whole lot and wanted more.

The service was excellent throughout and I was completely won over from my initial scepticism. Cinnamon delivers a superior experience to Dishoom at a better price on the same street. And who wouldn’t be happy with that?

8/10

#Food #London #Soho

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2017 check out my GoogleMap

Review #100 Diwana, Drummond Street

November 28, 2016

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At the end of a fun day of Movember walking (and it’s not too late to donate should you wish to do that thing) a bunch of us made our weary way back to Drummond Street from Kings Cross at the insistence of a vegan friend. Something I was happy to comply with but not entirely to the gruntlement of the more carnivorous amongst us (‘Where’s the chicken?!’ went a querulous cry.).

We were a convivial group though and once we’d negotiated our way to a big table up top of Diwana with carry outs from Sainsbury’s (they’re happy for you to bring your own as long as you put a bit of corkage on top of the bill) we settled in nicely. Diwana doesn’t go big on luxurious furnishings. In fact I suspect the room has little changed since it opened but don’t let that put you off. The food is very good, in fact the best of the South Indian bunch as far as I’m concerned.

First up for me were a few samosas which I despatched tout de suite. The main event was a Raza (sp?) Dhosa which was a big old crêpe wrapped around some tastymushy vegetables. The service was slightly chaotic but I’d say that was more due to the nine folks in various stages of booze on our side of the relationship rather than any slackness on the Diwana staff’s part.

7/10

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

Review #93 Ragam, Fitzrovia

November 7, 2016

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Another Friday another north London curry, this time in the company of departmental colleagues. Ragam was new to me and they do things a bit differently here. So as well as poppadoms for a starter (with one of our party making a bold gambit of a four per head order! (We quickly scaled it back to a more modest three.)) we had some puri style cashew nuts which were curious but not especially an improvement on your bare naked nut.

Beer comes in the variety of Kingfisher, Cobra and another one whose name escapes me. Possibly because I had two of it. It was from a bottle and tasted better than either of the others so I’d recommend it if only I wasn’t suffering in the memory department. Did we have starters? No, we didn’t, I was already running late and so we went straight into the mains. With no jalfrezi available I was thoroughly confused so plumped for a chicken dansak. It was yum. Also good was the kerala paratha which was crispy and munchable. The culinary appeal of ladies fingers divided the table but I scoffed a great deal of them.

The service was excellent and on the whole Ragam gives as good product as Gaylord round the corner but without the expense.

7/10

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

Review #91 Taste of India, Drummond Street

October 24, 2016

Coming to review a restaurant when the intervening 48 hours have seen a bacchanalian 60th birthday party and a 6 hour police assisted face off with somebody with mental health issues (not mine (this time at least!)), one could be forgiven for not exactly remembering the details of the cuisine on Friday night. Especially as that occasion was an end of season cricket social that inevitably involved a real ale lead in of several hours.

Fortunately my choice of dish at the trad Friday night Indian is as constant as the North Star. Taste of India is a blaze of light on the Drummond Street curry furlong and was selected over the excellent veggies to be found there to satisfy the carnivores amongst the team. We were a raucous-ish table of twelve but the service was remarkably good given the ‘confused’ state of some of us, and a fair amount of badinage going across the linen. I glanced at the couple next to us and felt a mild pang of pity for what they were about to have to listen to.

We had a poppadom starter (two each), which came with a four piece chutney backing group. Well, they were fine but they didn’t last long. My stomachbrain was then wondering where the hell the onion bhaji was. But the jalfrezi arrived soon enough with good sized chicken bits and the refreshing blast of unmediated chilli. On the side was the usual carb overload – rice, aloo, naan – but also some good vegetable involving okra, cauliflower, mushrooms and other unspecified stuff which was at the other end of the table and beyond my arsedness to reach.

Did we have coffee? I don’t think so. The Kingfishers were admirably chilled, the last dregs slipping down surprisingly well with a complimentary mint. Taste of India does what you want a traditional Indian to do and it does it well enough.

6/10

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

Review #81 Bombay Spice, Marylebone

September 24, 2016

We’d had a day at the cricket and with playing slowing to the end of the day the likelihood of Middlesex taking the title seemed to recede. Well, I got that wrong!* Cricket, watching or playing, makes me thirsty. And once a few pints of bitter have gone down thoughts inevitably turn to curry.

We could’ve found more glamorous Indian restaurants in Marylebone but we decided to take a punt on Bombay Spice as an Old Skool venue. Curiously sited immediately next door  to another Indian restaurant (not exactly making a Curry Mile) BS’s décor was reassuringly lived-in and had waiters to match.

Well, the test of this type of restaurant for me is the Onion Bhaji-Jalfrezi one-two. The Bhaji was fine, as was a vegetable samosa. Poppadoms had arrived suspiciously quickly  before this (with some distinctly average chutney) but a cold Kingfisher delivered at speed was a welcome thing.

The food was okay. Across the table the Madras looked to have come from exactly the same receptacle as the Jalfrezi except that the ‘frezi had added raw chilis (not especially fresh ones by the look of it but delivering the required heat). Some people see this as a scam, that one sauce can serve so many purposes, but to me it’s not a problem. For example, when I go to listen to a Philip Glass symphony I don’t really bother to work out exactly which one it is. I like that shit and he keeps churning it out so whether it’s the 2nd or the 3rd is really quite immaterial since they all sound basically the same.

So if I want Indian cooking with more subtlety I know where to get it, I know it’ll cost more (in Marylebone at least, these things are geographical) and I make sure that I haven’t blasted my tastebuds with Burton’s finest all day before I get there. Having said that I wouldn’t say that Bombay Spice is worth making a detour to go to – the cooking isn’t on a par with similar places not too far away.

But there was another comparison with Philip Glass! They looped the same piece of Indian music, about four minutes long, for the duration of our meal. Sergio’s of course were the masters of minimalism thus far this year but Bombay beats Italian with a smack-down for such commitment to repetition. For which it gets a point off. I’m not anti-music, I just wish people would think about it.

5/10

*Middlesex won the title on the last day with a thrilling winning hat-trick by TR-J.

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

 

 

 

Review #78 The India Club, Aldwych

September 7, 2016

We were two hungry chaps in search of cheap eats near Covent Garden. Rush hour reminded me of a previous occasion when I’d ducked into the India Club and found myself moving from one of the earth’s most crowded spots into a nostalgic pool of sepia tranquility. So we did that. Except we had to wait because the Indians don’t start cooking till 6 o’clock. We took another turn in the Lyceum Tavern across the road then returned with our hunger sharpened even more.

You’ll find the India Club within the Strand Continental Hotel. Go upstairs and on the first floor you have the bar. You might want to stop off here and mingle with the eccentrics over a G&T but if you really can’t wait ascend another storey to the restaurant. Don’t forget to pick a pair of Cobras to take with you though otherwise you’ll have to go back downstairs to get them.

A sole diner was munching when we arrived, his gaze focused on a point many miles away. Around the walls pictures of Indian legends look down upon the room – Gandhi and  Jinnah I spotted easily, others were more difficult to identify. I believe the restaurant opened in 1949 and I don’t think it’s had a refurb in the intervening seventy or so years. Formica tables, functional flatware and a paper napkin slimmer than graphene are the way the IC rolls. You’re not in Dishoom now, this is the real thing. Or at least a mid-20thC Anglo-Indian reality.

The waiter dropped a heavy hint that we should take the set menu. We complied and thus the spicy conveyor belt was set in motion. First up a poppadom each with four chutneys – mango (hot and sweet), onion (really, just onion and nothing else), lime (my personal favourite) and coconut (which I think we should have saved for the dhosa). We cracked open the Cobras and tucked in.

Next was a plate of battered onion and chilli – the chilli with a real kick, just done whole with the seeds left in. The Cobra took the edge off a little. Dhosas were thick yet light and to be honest I was already starting to get full but also the aroma from the kitchen was keeping me hungry so when the main courses arrived I still had the capability.

There was a beefy curry and a butter chicken, neither of them overly spicy and a little underpowered on the flavour side. The dhal was better, as was the sag aloo. Did we really need pilau rice AND bread?! Probably not but we ate them anyway, paid the bill and staggered back to the bar under the momentum of our own protuberant stomachs.*

7/10

*One tip for the gents – go to the Gents, you get a great little view of the rear of Kings College. One of those unexpected little pleasures is a smallest room with a view. Daddy of these is of course the Lloyds Building where you can ease yourself (to borrow from the Nigerian) while gazing over the City. Another that I miss is that which was to be found while watering the porcelain in the Old Red Lion on Whitechapel High Street. You could watch the District Line trains meandering their way into Whitechapel Station and think to yourself, ‘Aren’t I lucky to be in a pub and not in a tube carriage.’

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To see where else I’ve eaten in 2016 go to the GoogleMap here

 

Review #67 Shikara, South Kensington

August 7, 2016

Pre-Prom and looking for spice South Ken didn’t seem all that promising, its independent trade having largely succumbed to the crushing onslaught of the chains since I first used to come to SK when my children were wee bairns. But we found Shikara tucked away in Rue de Bute and rolled the dice.

The room is pleasant enough and Bute Street itself is fairly quiet, although I’m not sure that the lonely pavement table looks all that appealing. We chose to stay indoors. The offer is your standard tandoori fare. Chef’s specials up front, jalfrezi/biryani/dhal in the middle, veg, sundries then the filthy English stuff – Madras/Vindaloo/Chips – hidden away at the back.

A starter of shami kebab was a bit disappointing with not enough spice for my taste. The poppadoms though were excellent with a good selection of chutneys. A main of one of the chef’s specials was ok but again not as spicy as I was hoping. I guess this shows the value of cultivating your local curry house – you get to learn what they mean by mild, medium and hot. Visiting an Indian at random you don’t have the time to work out what’s good for your palate.

The service was friendly and there was the usual Cobra-Kingfisher face off which provoked the thought of why aren’t Indian restaurants getting into the craft beer game? While I’m sure there are commercial incentives for them to live within the C-K duopoly (although I’ve sometimes seen Heineken on offer too) it’s a shame that local brews seem to be the domain of your Dishooms rather than reaching down to the independent sector.

So we rolled out of Shikara content but not wowed. Which is okay, the bill was reasonable for the area. Stephen Osborne doing the Britten Piano Concerto at the RAH on the other was utterly sensational.

6/10

To see where else I’ve eaten in 2016 go to the GoogleMap here


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