Saturday 27th August 2016.
I recommend making a reservation. Walk-ins are turned away or, at a push, offered 50 minutes. Even complacent onlookers who’ve booked only get 90 minutes. Even those with rain-drenched trouser bottoms.
By chance we got a booth. Otherwise you’re squeezed in next to fellow diners, almost sharing the same table. It’s not a vast space. Upstairs there’s just one toilet cubicle for men, one for women – nothing else. They’ve sealed off the broken popodum museum following the recent chutney protests.
It’s called a “1960’s pickle tray” (the restaurant first opened in 1967). To honour the 1960’s they’ve produced a primitive, unimaginative selection: chopped onions, raita and lime pickle. Mary, Mungo & Midge. Savoured the lime pickle.
The chicken liver puri wasn’t as toothsome or spicy as I remembered it, prettily presented in a puffed puri bowl. Akbar’s version outstrips it. The onion bhajis missed something. There’s a range of bottled beers, including Thornbridge and Bradfield, to take your mind off things.
The main dishes also disappointed. This time it was the lamb methi special. Skippy tried the makhan wallah. Despite the consistently tender lamb meat, the sauces underwhelmed with their bland orchestration. I far preferred the ’Taxi Driver Curry’ of our previous visit. The garlic naan bread flattered itself.
The service was almost impeccable – swift, courteous and discreet. On request, the manager can enthusiastically elucidate each menu item. And offers diners the surprising complimentary gift of a packet of Indian biscuits with the bill. Only the bill arrived off-puttingly unsolicited.
Judge ‘Gonzo’ Pickles
Fred ‘Skippy’ Pickles