Décor: Cramped, nothing fancy, walls lined with photos and portraits tracing the lineage of the owners, oh and did I mention cramped?
I’ve never felt so downright upset with the service at any restaurant ever, be it in Kuwait, India or London but having come to an Indian restaurant known by reputation for its hospitable service, this was a disaster. And for a restaurant of such repute, It wasn’t all that hard to get a reservation a day prior to dinner as well which makes one wonder if the charm of the place is fading.
Having reserved a table for a party of four, two of us who reached a couple of minutes early stepped in to the restaurant and you’d think that what would happen typically is that we would be politely shown to our table and the others led in as they arrived but no, not here. We were made (not asked) to sit in two chairs by the side of the door and wait, all the while being prodded rudely to call our friends who were yet to arrive. And mind you, it wasn’t like they were late by half an hour but just 5 minutes. This rudeness probably had to do with us being Indians and them thinking they could take their liberties with us and speak to us in Hindi though we spoke to them in English. Also, something worth mentioning is that this impolite behaviour was shown by an old Punjabi man in a suit (presumably one of the owners). Not hard to imagine the experience then is it? In order to avoid their boorishness, we asked them for the menu to look at which we were rudely given and then, hardly a minute passed when they were back again asking us to place our order so that they could run it to the kitchen immediately and keep it ‘on the line’.
Now at this point you might wonder why we put up with this. For one, being the weekend it would be near impossible to get a table at a decent establishment in Covent Garden at such short notice and secondly, our European friend and his girlfriend who was to join us were all set for some Indian fare that night and we didn’t want to dash their hopes. So, the two of us decided well, we weren’t going to be hurried up and waited till our friend arrived and we were finally shown to our table.
Taking our time, we ordered the ‘Kadu Puri’ which is pumkin on a puri (an oily flatbread), the channa chaat made of chickpea salad, a fish tikki which is a fish cutlet and papaddoms for the table. Nothing spectacular, but the kadu puri does score well with a slightly sweet taste of pumpkin with the puri. For the mains, we had the ‘butter chicken’, the ‘chicken tikka masala’, ‘grandad’s kahli daal’ (black lentil curry), ‘karahi gosht’ (a type of lamb curry) and the ‘lamb sheekh kabab’ along with garlic, chilli and plain naans. You would expect this to be a veritable feast wouldn’t you? But the quantity was average and it didn’t quite leave as with happy smiles. They call the ‘butter chicken’ the ‘godfather of all Punjabi dishes’, but if this is the godfather, I can only imagine what the rest of the gang must be like. I’ve had better, much better in fact. And I’m pretty sure the grandad in ‘grandad’s kahli daal’, is not going to be too pleased at how the dish tasted. Bland. Finally time for dessert and I opted for the ‘Kheer’; not a great choice. I could hardly taste any cardamom or saffron or jaggery, it wasn’t sweet and somehow, there were no cashews or raisins.
It’s definitely not a place I’m likely to visit again but there are others who have a much better opinion of it.
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