Lunchtime crowding shows this Bloomsbury newcomer has quickly made a name for itself: perhaps because it offers a satisfying – if basic – midday fill-up for just a fiver. But it’s not just economical locals who are making a song and dance about it. A number of press luminaries have hailed this ordinary-looking Indian as a real hidden gem (and an accessible one too, just a couple of minutes from trendy Lamb’s Conduit Street).
You only need glance at the extensive (if tatty) menu to realise that the aspirations here are out-of-the-ordinary. Yes, there are all your usual biryanis and so on, but there are also – still at good prices – lots of unusual dishes too. And first culinary impressions really are very good. The popadoms are excellent, and they come with some really tasty (and spicy) chutneys and relishes. Some of the starters too (a luscious prawn, deep-fried in crispy pastry, for example) were quite exceptional.
After a couple of visits, though, we couldn’t persuade ourselves that the main courses here are worth the fuss. A spectacular failure was chicken breast stuffed with minced lamb and spinach. It sounded intriguing, but turned out a real dog’s breakfast. (The waiter, removing the half-eaten plate, admitted it could be ‘rather heavy’.) Basics were unreliable, too. Rice, served in mounds, was cool and rather dry and the naan-bread was nothing to write home about.
The odd successful novelty such as lamb with citrus fruits did, however, hint at the joys others have unearthed. So maybe – just maybe – we were serially unlucky.