Saturday 10 November 2007

Jaipur - Albert Road, Southsea

While Rich and Aaron busy stationing the car (took 20 minutes) I made my way to Jaipur. Hides itself as well as parking spaces on Albert Road. PLACE is small but really quite roomy. Modern art-deco space, off white walls displaying impressionistic acrylic landscapes, filled out with bambi brown furnishings. Pristine. Rowdy gathering of Pompey harpies slowly built to crescendo. Someone’s birthday! Wood floor meant whole place drowned in sound. Still SERVICE remained restrained, polite.

An adventure in taste! So declares the restaurant’s menu. Won’t cost you the earth either. PRICES £3-3.50 Starters, circa £6 for sweep of House Specials, £3.45 Veg, £2.20 pilau.
Certainly a change from formula curry. Best part of meal, our selection of curry mains. Goan Lamb, homestyle intensity of flavour, ingredients made themselves known – coconut, root ginger, fat red, green chillies, sour lime leaves. Refreshing and lovely. Jaipuri Lamb, various strong, warm and bitter sweet overtones from cassia bark, ground cinnamon, cloves. Manchurian Chicken, honey rich, thick dark and viscous. Heavy but sumptuously sweet. Starters had been fine if unremarkable. I chose the Nargisi Kebab, 4 breadcrumbed meat and lentil nuggets. A Bhindi Bhajee had familiar butter tea taste while 2 pilau rice and a Misi Roti (unleavened bread stuffed with spinach) were ok though not truly memorable.

...However, the lingering memory of the curries presuaded me to take my two sisters along, still on unviersity hols. There's a dreadful Paul McCartney song called 'Riding into Jaipur' (Mock raga, Paul attempts George). We didn't ride in but trudged wearily over the threshold, me after a hard days work, the girls after a hard afternoon shop.

First up favourite Chicken tikka served on a mediterranean salad including green, red peppers. Satisfactory beginnings. Once again more than pleased by my main course - an excellent Lahori Lamb. Cubes of pale pink meat warmly spiced with cinnamon, pepper mixed with aromatic cloves, nutty chana dal. Alongside, a pilau rice and Bhindi Khukure. Parsnip flavoured crispy okra shavings, light and original. Girls thought it was the tops, better than the Madhuban. I don't know if I'd agree, the starters I've had haven't wowed but the House Specials are especial, quite removed from what one would come across elsewhere along Albert Road.

...Another outing with Zoe and Dave confirmed feeling dishes are prepared upon order with little reliance on stock sauces at least our cricket loving waiter said so. He took quite a liking to us, was keen to chat and revealed he too has played with Keech, Prittipaul and Maru (of Hampshire CCC). Broke into folded poppas, dips and a good bottle of Casilero Del Diablo Chardonnay, zingy, fresh and ever so slightly fizzy. Discussed Britney going off the rails, was she stoned at the MTV awards or merely disinterested? Will the dentist come to the rescue of the kids teeth before they are destroyed by Ms Spears milk shake, junk food diet!?

Putting aside this matter of international concern the meal proper began with a superb Shami Kebab. Lean lamb burgers pungent with ground cumin tumeric, tart chives and garlic, each flavour taking turns to leap gleefully onto the tip of my tongue. Ajwani Aloo, baby new potatoes in a tangy preparation of, juicy tomatoes, bitter curry leaves and glorious thymey ajowan seeds, deserved equal praise accompanying a lovely Fish Shorisha. Succulent chunks of oily white fish similar to Haddock in a mustard and ginger sauce. Zoe's Pasanda contained deliciously tender lamb in an almondy sauce with a hint of red wine, Dave was perhaps the least well off in that his Badami curry came with tough chicken pieces an elementary error I would have found hard to overlook had it been my choice.

In SUMMARY individuality in the cooking really impresses.

Willp2328 score: 7/10

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