Indian cuisine, whilst very much one of the most exotic culinary delights of the world, has not been given a spot on our dining out list as of late. There are a number of reasons for this: busy with recipe creation, reading cookbooks, interviewing inspirational foodies etc, but the main determining factor lies very much in Indian cuisine’s relative lack of visibility in the London food scene. I confess that there are certainly incredible South Asian restaurants out there, but not so many that they are cluttering our streets and causing havoc in our daily grind across this bustling city. My current favourite Indian restaurant at the moment is Kricket, which ticked all the boxes a hungry, lost and tired chap could ask for. This is what led to my most recent venture into the hallways of delectable Indian restaurants in the hope of obtaining a similar experience.
I went there on a Monday with my partner in foodie crime. I called ahead to book a table for 2, which was all very simple and smooth without being subjected to the usual unnecessary questionnaires when making a reservation. At 7pm on a Monday evening it was half full, with no major queues and walk-ins welcomed. As you enter, a crystal clear window frame takes a welcoming centre stage, with chefs busy behind it grilling long sticks of meat and puffing up naan bread. It provides a good impression of calm, resilience and order as opposed to what you normally see of hectic, shouting, haphazard operations in other restaurants. Tandoor Chophouse also offers the finest display of beautiful plates and cutlery I have seen in ages. Ceramics adorned with pale blue flowers, shiny golden-hued cutlery and a creamy-beige house water glasses embossed with their logo. Beautiful.
Our Bhaji Onion Rings lacked crunch and seasoning, though arriving very well presented in a small papered bowl. House Tandoor Chicken, as recommended by the waiter, arrived dry and lacklustre and consequently was left ignored after the first bite. Lasooni Paneer, a meal I very much love from this part of Asia, surprisingly lacked soul and oomph – though this was predictable from its presentation. All of the aforementioned dishes were well somewhat redeemed by the Gunpowder Fries, which were a lovely conclusion to the night. The waiter suggested ‘Coal Roasted Pineapple, Honeycomb Ice Cream’ to balance the adverse effects of the heavy mains, which we politely rejected in favour of the ‘Halva Sticky Toffee Pudding’. This dessert, in the midst of modern Indian (uncertainty) servings, was a complete shock and injected happiness back into this #mondaymotivation evening of feasting. Comprised of various blends of spices that truly brought the caramel and cream to the fore, it was unquestionably the crowned leader of the pack (menu). From beginning to end, the young Spanish guy who served us (extremely excellent service) seemed more enthusiastic about the food than the food itself.
Tandoor Chophouse, your place is admirable, and your efforts don’t go unnoticed. But I do hope to return to experience flavours with more zing, magic and va-va-voom especially. See you again!
Bhaji Onion Rings, Burnt Garlic Chutney £4
House Tandoor Chicken £14
Lasooni Paneer £11
Gunpowder Fries £3
Halva “sticky toffee” pudding with clotted cream £5
Total: £37.00 + 12.5% Service = £41.60