Agni closed in the winter of 2008. It was a pleasant local place, around 11/20 level.
Tonight did not begin well with a long delay in taking our order on a quiet night, followed by a set of popadoms that were truly dire. In case you wonder how it is possible to screw up a popadom, this were soggy in texture. The worst I ever saw was one from a takeaway in Chiswick called the Tiffin Box, which I could actually fold up like a piece of cardboard. These were not that bad but were distinctly limp. Having decent home-made chutneys (apple and plum, tomato, mint) does not help if the popadoms themselves are abominations. Perhaps a trip to Sainsburys would be in order for the chef (10/20).
Aloo papri chat was reasonable, though the spicing indistinct, and was not a patch on the version at Diwana Bhel Poori. Chicken tikka comes in three varieties (green spice, red herb, mughlai) but the mughlai was a little on the chewy side, though the other two were fine (11/20). A prawn biriani was good, with reasonably fragrant rice and prawns that were properly cooked (12/20).
Okra was a little on the greasy side but better than many (11/20). However a vegetable masala was poor, featuring such Indian delicacies as broccoli and tinned carrots, as well as a lacklustre sauce (10/20). Garlic bread was fair, though a bit too firm (11/20). The service was weak tonight, with two waiters for just a handful of diners, yet it was still not trivial to get their attention; they seemed more interested in standing behind the bar chatting than serving their customers.
I found the meal tonight at Agni a distinct drop in standard since my last visit, so I am docking it a mark to 11/20. It is still better than the high street curry house, however.
Here are my notes from a (better) visit in May 2007.
This is a cut above the usual curry houses on King Street, with chef Gowtham Karingi (formerly head chef at Zaika) producing some interesting dishes. Not everything works. On my first visit popadoms were an odd mix of pieces of conventional popadoms and what were essentially potato crisps, an innovation best forgotten; by my most recent visit they had reverted to regular popadoms, but though these were fried they were quite greasy (10/20). Chutneys are home made but not particularly good, served in absurdly small dishes (10/20).
Aloo tikki is somewhat different from the Southall version, with one central potato pattie surrounded by chickpeas and tamarind sauce, but this was nonetheless very reasonable, with tender chickpeas (12/20). This was better than the potato patties that my wife had, which were simply dull (10/20). However aloo papri chat was very pleasant (11/20). The chicken tikka here arrives in three different styles (each with a different marinade) and each was very good, tender chicken with interesting spices (13/20).
The chef is from Hyderabad, so I would have expected something special from the biriani, but there was no pastry seal on the pot. However by my second visit the rice was very good and both a prawn briiani and a chicken biriani were correctly cooked (12/20). The chef popped out later and he explained that the oven he has seems unable to deal with the sealing of the biriani pots; they just crack. He is hoping to get some new ones. Encouraging was a pleasant mixed vegetable curry which retained the texture of the potatoes, carrots, etc (11/20) and better still was a good bhindi, which had the key attribute of the okra being roasted first and so sealing in the flavour, avoiding a greasy mess when it is finished (12/20). Naan bread was very good (maybe 13/20). Worth a try if you are in the area.