I frequently find that I am less enthusiastic than some reviewers of what are enjoyable but fairly typical Indian restaurants. Therefore at the risk of appearing egotistical perhaps I should explain that this is probably because my background and familiarity with Indian food and restaurants is much wider than most, so my benchmark may be a little higher. (This background is on my personal profile for any who might wish to verify this, and it may give some credence to the views expressed).
The restaurant is decorated in contemporary style and the menu interestingly extensive, covering all of the familiar dishes plus numerous different names. I reserved a table for 8.15, and upon arrival found that even though it is a large restaurant (seating over 100) it was packed. I explained that we had reserved a table, but was told to ‘take a seat’ (along with everyone else). It became clear that table reservation is completely meaningless as the system seems to be to take a booking and hope a table is vacant at the appropriate time, and if not then seat people as tables become available. Twenty minutes later, in disgruntled mood (I take the view that if the restaurant can’t honour a reservation then they shouldn’t take bookings), I was about to walk out but, probably sensing this, the waiter said that a table was ready.
The food was a bit of a mixed bag and overall pretty ordinary. The Onion Bhajee starters lacked flavour and contained less onion than is usual, having more of a soft cereal filling which made them stodgy inside, while the Shamee Kebabs were OK but fairly standard kebabs. The main dish of Chicken Tikka Dupiaza was fine, but with an unusual sharpness not usually associated with this dish. Conversely, the Jinga Dum Lamb Achari did not have the sharpness of pickle, which is a fundamental ingredient of an achari dish (achar mean pickle, and achari means ‘cooked with pickle’). In fact, the Dupiaza tasted more like an achari dish than the Lamb Achari! Having said that, it had a pleasant flavour although not as hot or robust (or any fresh coriander) as the menu description implies. The Dry Mixed Vegetables contained a good selection of veg, well cooked (al dente) and tastily spiced, but the Tarka Dall was a great disappointment as it lacked any spicy or garlic flavour and was more like bland custard (complete with a thin skin on top where it had been left standing before being served).
At this point I should comment on the presentation, simply because their website grandly states ‘You will not see presentation skills of this standard in any other Indian restaurant in East Anglia’. On the assumption that this means it is superior it is clearly spurious marketing hyperbole, as there was nothing to distinguish the presentation from most others restaurants – i.e. curry in bowls and starters on plates with a salad garnish. There were no artistic ‘foodie’ swirls or decoration that are sometimes seen nowadays, and furthermore both vegetable dishes were lukewarm when served and had obviously been left standing awaiting the main dishes. They were sent back for the attention of the microwave. Not my idea of good presentation!
The portions were also variable. The onion bhajees (three small round balls about the size of a greengage) and both vegetable side dishes were on the small side, whereas the kebab starter and the two main dishes were perfectly adequate.
Another inconsistency was the service. After the wait for our ‘reserved’ table (poor) the food was served within a reasonable time (good, particularly as they were busy). The waiters were also sharp to the extent of being pushy when it came to asking whether we wanted drinks and poppadoms (we were asked four times whether we wanted poppadoms!) However, at end of the meal when they were not so busy they were less efficient, as we asked for the bill three times before giving up and paying at the bar on the way out (and where the bill had still not been made out).
Overall it was an acceptable meal but generally lacked the robustness of flavour and vibrancy to lift it above an average formula curry.
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