This South Indian restaurant has an unusually wide range of menu options, with assorted South Indian dishes such as dosas, but also some more familiar fare and some unusual dishes. Aloo bonda was pleasant, a mix of potato, onion, ginger green chilli and curry leaves in a deep-fried coating (12/20). Malai tikka was less good, the chicken cooked for too long and, despite its marinade, rather too hard and dried out (10/20). Sea bass in a banana leaf was not filleted, making it a little tedious to eat, and was rather lacking in flavuor (11/20) and aloo gobi had vegetables that were distinctly overcooked (10/20). A prawn curry had prawns that were acceptably tender, though they tasted pretty cheap in terms of quality, in a pleasant sauce where the spices were rather indistinct (11/20). Partaha was very good, light and delicate (13/20) and naan was fine as well, supple and soft (12/20). Service was pleasant if rather stretched tonight. The bill came to £28 a head.
At a May 2010 visit the best dishes were the sea bass (12/20) in banana leaf (described below) and a good paratha (12/20), which avoided that oiliness that can so easily spoil this bread. Less good was a lentil soup starter that had a pleasant enough and spicy stock but was almost entirely lacking in lentils (10/20). Better was a dish of creamy spinach and lentics, laced with spices (12/20). Service was attentive and friendly.
The more detailed notes below are from a meal in March 2010.
I have been here once before and had mostly decent food but dismal service, so I was curious to see whether anything had changed. Popadoms were fried and served with beetroot pickle as well as the usual mango chutney and mint chutney. I tried cauliflower chill fry (£3.95) which consisted of pieces of cauliflower tossed with curry leaves, yoghurt and a little green chilli – the texture of the cauliflower was reasonable (11/20). Potato bonda (£2.50) was a pair of deep fried balls of potato flavoured with ginger, curry leaves and chillies, but this was rather soggy (10/20).
Sea bass pollicchathu (£10.50) consisted of a pair of sea bass fillets marinated with spices, then wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled. The fish was cooked a little long, but the banana leaf managed to keep much of the moisture in the fish, and the spicy marinade, though it did not have the vibrant flavours of freshly ground spices, was adequate (11/20). Parippu cheera (£3.95) was a pleasant mix of lentils and spinach, garlic and shallots (11/20). Only aloo mutter (£3.95) was a let-down, the potatoes badly over-cooked, though the peas were OK (10/20). Paratha (£1.75) was quite good, with no hint of greasiness (12/20). A prawn curry (£8.50) had prawns that were cooked correctly, resting in a sauce flavoured with coconut milk.
Service was unrecognisable from our previous visit, and indeed our waiter from last time was nowhere to be seen. Instead we were served by two pleasant young Indian waiters, one of whom in particular was very impressive: efficient, attentive and alert. The bill is quite fair here; we ended up with more food than we could eat, and even with drinks the cost was only just over £25 a head. Sadly they have the same weird lighting, which gives everything a slight violet tinge, like something from a 50s sci-fi film.
What follows are notes from a meal in March 2008.
This is a fairly new venture (open three months) with partly the same ownership as the long established Radha Krishna Bhavan in Tooting. The chef has come directly from the Taj hotel group, and the menu is mostly Keralan, with a few token north Indian dishes – quite why chicken tikka masala was felt to be necessary is beyond me. The room is a fairly narrow rectangle, with one set of tables on each side. Decor is a little eccentric, with sparkly blue lights and a couple of plasma screens showing Bollywood films. Popadoms were ordinary but with more imaginative chutneys than usual: a slightly grainy but tasty coconut chutney, an over-sweet beetroot chutney as well as conventional mango chutney and a mint and yoghurt dip. A starter of Mysore potato was not as good as the version at Rasa as it had less interesting spicing, but it had pleasant texture and a reasonably crisp exterior (12/20). Malai murgh tikka was tender, marinated with cheese and could have done with a little longer in the tandoor, but was certainly pleasant (12/20).
At this point we waited, waited some more, and kept waiting. We ended up stacking the dirty plates at the end of our table since the waiter showed no inclination to do so, and even this action brought no response (there were all of three tables occupied at this point in the restaurant, and two waiters). The waiter was probably thinking: “hey this is a good wheeze, maybe if I keep on like this they’ll bring the dishes from the kitchen as well and then I can just have a nap”.
Main courses were a mixed bag. Kingfish in a coconut masala was seriously overcooked, and although the coconut was decent the fish was virtually inedible (10/20). Prawns, by contrast, were just fine, nicely cooked with a tomato-based spicy sauce (12/20). Aloo mattur went the other way, with badly undercooked potatoes in a rather bland sauce with hardly any peas (10/20). On the other hand okra, which is easy to screw up, here was quite good, a little less firm than I would have liked but by no means slimy (11/20). Naan was good, supple in texture with a little garlic flavour (12/20). Plain rice was fine (11/20).
Service was absolutely dismal. We had two courses, and this took almost two hours to serve on a night when a total of three other tables were in use. Two waiters managed to spend most of their time chatting to each other at the far end of the restaurant, virtually ignoring the diners. When we pointed out the problem with the (virtually untouched) kingfish dish, the dish was taken away but was left on the bill. It is a long time since I have encountered service this inept. This is a shame since elements of the cooking showed ability, though two technical errors is rather scary. Objectively I can just about score the cooking 11/20, but this could be so much better with a little more effort in both front of house and kitchen.