Chapati Club

117 The Vale, London, W3 7RQ, United Kingdom

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This north Indian restaurant in Acton opened in April 2017, focusing on the kind of home cooked food that Asian families are used to. It is owned by Resh Sonchhatla, who used to be a project manager in the City before deciding to switch career. Her head chef is Pradeep Asawa, who has worked in both India and at Mela in London before moving here. The restaurant is simple, with wooden floor and bare tables, with a series of travel posters along one wall. To drink there is a simple choice of house wine: sparkling, white, red or rose, or a choice of Tusker, Cobra and Union beer. 

Bhel poori was pleasant if a touch dry for me; a little more tamarind chutney would have improved it further, though the puffed rice itself was good and the spicing was quite lively (12/20). At just £3 such minor issues are forgivable. A pair of vegetable samosas were merely £2, and although the potato and vegetable filling did not sing out with distinct flavours, it was quite spicy and the coating was crisp (12/20).

Chicken biryani was very good, the rice quite aromatic and the meat avoiding the dryness that can often be an issue with biryani. Sure, it would have been even better with a sealed pastry top as you see in Hyderabad, but this was an entirely capable biryani (13/20). Aloo gobi had better gobi than aloo: the cauliflower had really excellent texture, but the potato was just a bit overcooked, though the spicing was again good (13/20). Black dhal was also enjoyable, suitably smoky and with red kidney beans providing some texture (13/20). Paneer was also good, the sauce pleasant and the paneer having good texture (13/20). Naan, made in a gas tandoor, lacked the hint of smoky charcoal that a real tandoor provides, but the texture was fine (12/20). Okra fries were very good; okra can so often be slimy, but here were cut fine and deep-fried, the end result crisp and light (13/20). There was plenty of food but we managed to sample one dessert, a carrot halwa. This was topped with pistachios, but the texture of the halwa was just a little softer than ideal (12/20). 

Service, led by the owner, was friendly and effective, dishes arriving at a sensible pace. As an aside, there was an unusually good (to my ears) playlist of music. No bhangra or muzak here, but hits from bands such as The Cure and Tracey Chapman as well as older songs from Bob Marley and Desmond Dekker. The bill came to just under £30 each before service with beer to drink and more food than we could finish. Overall I quite enjoyed Chapati Club, which served simple but capably made food at a very fair price. With a few tweaks in the kitchen this could easily move up a notch.

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