Thursday 31 January 2008

Midnight Tandoori - Palmerston Rd, Southsea, 30/1/08

Wednesday evening saw me swiftly back to the Midnight Tandoori to test out their traditional curry and savour another glass of plummy Monetpuliciano.

For starters 'Prawn and Pineapple' was as simple as it sounded. Cloaked in a light tomato yoghurt sauce and underwritten by earthy tumeric and concentrated coriander it contrasted nicely with the plump seafood and the acid sweetness of pineapple.

Next up smoky chicken in a hot, sour Jalfrezi sauce, moist with sweet fat onions, roasted peppers and fried tomatoes. There was a citrussy tinge (lemon juice?) to my Sag Paneer of creamy curd and spinach simmered in usual savoury spices. Raiding across table I got a mouthful of an original walnutty Passanda that had arrived beautifully garnished with rose petals in a deep triangular procelain bowl.

Dishes are well presented, staff well turned out and brought up -haven't been trained to be pleasant, its natural. In between serving the four or five tables they talked of football, Man Utd versus Pompey and Cristiano Ronaldo's winning goal. Safe in the knowledge the three points were secured and full of good food I left very content.

Willp2328visit: 7/10

Saturday 26 January 2008

Midnight Tandoori - Palmerston Rd, Southsea

The PLACE is hides itself well, tucked away in a niche between two multi storey apartments down toward the sea front. Rich ended up in Kashmir, a few doors down until he realised his mistake, Mike and Aaran turned up 45 minutes late after a search.

Business has been 'alright' according to the bearded young bangladeshi on duty Friday evening, they've a small but loyal clientel. Aaran's Mum is a regular, 'surprised she's not here' he mused, perhaps just as well as he forget her birthday (hope I don't get in trouble for this remark).

While waiting for company I enjoyed a glass of House wine, yes its Montepuliciano D'Abruzzo! An excellent value red with bold fruit bouquet, cocoa finish, popularised by the Wine Society and Matthew Dukes among several.

Studying the menu PRICES seemed reasonable and as the evening progressed positively good value. Polite and effecient SERVICE merited a decent tip and FOOD wise it was super.

I began with a Chicken Sheek. Dry, orange chippolatas with a smoky chilli taste. For main course Lamb Joshwala proved one of the best dishes I've enjoyed for under £7. Tender, fat chunks of meat in a zingy and lively spiced curry with rich chocolately undertones, highlighted by cherry tomatoes bursting with ripe flavour. Delicately treated pulpy slivers of okra and decent white pilau well above par as well.

In SUMMARY the Midnight Tandoori is a discovery I'm glad to have made, if I can call it so, was recommended to me in fact. The menu is generally north indian but they are are enough variations to explore to merit more than a few return trips.

Willp2328 score: 8/10

Thursday 24 January 2008

Paradise Balti - Petersfield, 23/1/08

Arrived 10 minutes early so I sat and read the Daily Mirror. That took a minute and a half. I observed fellow Wednesday night dinners until my mate turned up. The restaurant was pleasingly busy, over half the tables occupied.

Graham had resolved to give up drink until February but a visit to Weymouth last weekend derailed good intentions. We shared a bottle of Cabernet Sauvingon, all red summer fruits, raspberries and red currants.

After crisp, warm poppadoms a jolly nice meal was had. Coconut Fish, 3 mini cod fillets fried with coconut and coated in bread crumbs was simple, light and sweet. A Prawn Patia, toothsome yet sour with tamarind, spicy with chilli resin, heady with coriander. First class perfumed pilau rice and a succulent moreish Cauliflower, Pea and Tomato curry cooked in lashings of onion was lovely.

The chef has been the same for 15 years, seems he knows that punters want an 'indian' to involve big flavours and equally sizeable portions.

Willp2328 visit: 7/10

Wednesday 23 January 2008

Mirchi - Albert Road, Southsea, 18/1/08

After a late afternoon session in the Wine Vaults discussing the top 100 pop albums of all time (does Ennion Morricone's Once Upon A Time In The West soundtrack qualif? Yes of course!) we started on a bottle of grassy Muscadet with honeyed melon aromas. Emma is an architect and was surprised at Mirchi's carpet, it'll wear out in 3 years, not 7!The thing is, will Mirchi still be around in 3 years? The venue has changed hands at least 4 times in the 3 years I've known this stretch of Albert Road.

The food is good enough to suggest the guys here might survive. Chicken Tikka, firm fleshy nuggets in a thin but tart n’ spicy marinade was fine. Lamb Goan Korai - dense cubes of Lamb in a whipped up creamy coconut sauce, juicy with stewy onions, soured by red peppers and green chilli rather nice too. Chana Bhajee, fibrous chic peas lightly fried with earthy tumeric, cinnamon as well as fresh leafy coriander also satisfied without amazing. Pilau ok.

Overall the meal was decent, a word I don't like using, but on this occasion the most fitting way to conclude.

Willp2328 visit: 6.5/10

Thursday 17 January 2008

Khans Brasserie - Midhurst, 16/1/08

A triumph! At last I succeeded in paying for a whole meal with Mum (even if I did have to resort to hiding her wallet before driving to Midhurst). Minus handbag she indulged in poppadoms, pineapple juice, Onion Bhaji's three and ordered the same main dish as I (it's in the genes).

For my part I chose to begin with 'Panir Kebab', a balloon of tandoori chicken filled with mash that looked interesting but didn't really excite the taste buds. Two Sally Lambs, reasonably priced at £6.50, were pleasant although lacking the nuance of other incarnations. A rich potato and apricot curry it tasted most of citrussy saltiness of freshly ground coriander seed and a little of camphorous bitter sweet cardamom though the meat was well done. Good plain Naan, soft and light as well as a decent Bhindi bhajee (ladies fingers prepared with ginger and garlic) were enjoyed. A large glass of a blackberry tinged Shiraz proved a fine compliment to the food.

The staff were friendly and the restaurant felt very snug inside, like being deep in the bowels of a warm, friendly giant - the BFG? Just hope the bladder holds out - the gents loos are outside (not literally but they are seperate from the main building)

Willp2328visit: 6/10

Friday 11 January 2008

Gurkha Durbar - Grayshott, 10/1/08

I approve of the large portions of rice the Gurkha serve, always need it. A man sized helpling of lovely audente basmati did more than soak up my curry. What an excellent meal it was! Especially as it turned out not to cost a penny (no such thing as a free lunch but there is such a thing as a free dinner, if its curry and its eaten with my Godfather – just don’t all ask at once!!).

Poleko Maccha to start – that’s a char grilled salmon fillet to the laity, coated in a subtle piquant marinade, nutritious and delicious, succeeded by Khatmandu Ko Wasa. Sounds like a fatal martial arts maneuver but if executed in the Durbar turns out to be best quality stewed lamb in a hot rich, smooth curry, pepper laden with a strong undertones of red wine and acetous cardamom. Mis Mas Tarkari, lightly fried vegetables, fresh with coriander was perfect, veg which you had to bite through rather than slurp (overcooking legumes is endemic in lesser curry joints). All in all as near faultless perfection as I’m likely to enjoy in a purveyor of eastern cuisine.

Willp2328visit: 9/10

Thursday 10 January 2008

Dhanmondi - Whitehill

On the occassion of first visit I don't remember looking forward to a trip to angry Bordon with such anticipation, somehow I'd gone almost a month without curry.

Aperitifs at Foggy’s then troops in convoy, under cover of darkness to Dhanmondi. PLACE a strange space, once a village hall? Unlikely, locals not known for community spirit…careful now! Before I go any further must stress staff were perfectly hospitable, SERVICE attentive, glasses replenished with pleasant Chardonnay in between times. Much debate about FOOD, chewy lamb?? Starter middling mix of mini bhajis, vegetable samosa, lamb and chicken tikka. Mains all of same Medium consistency but combined well while each having distinct flavour; Chicken Banarosh with pineapple, Lamb and bangladeshi lime, two other dishes, King Prawns and tasty Tandoori chicken both in a dry tangy sauce. Sides comprised Tarka Dall, thick and viscus, plus blend of Spinach, potatoes, chick peas, onion slivers. Plenty of pilau, daily bread.

...Back in the new year, a year which sees Dhanmondi recognised as one of the top 100 curry restaurants in the UK by the British Curry Awards.

Turned out to be a memorable visit. Not only did we enjoy some rather good food but we were allowed behind the scenes. We met the cooking team (all 3) and had a fresh, buttery Naan, soft, doughy, tangy with garlic, cooked in 40 seconds, slapped onto the inside of the tandoor over right before our eyes. That was after a good meal, highlights including Balti Lamb. Thick dark brown treacle like gravy redolent of citrussy ground coriander. A Delicious Mushroom Bhajee, dry and herby. As well as King Prawns smothered in a gingery tomato sauce aromatic with cardamom.

The Jalfrezi in a rather thin gravy could be improved on and didn't benefit from being served on a platter ditto a bland Sheekh Kebab and an overly salty meat samosa. However, the Restaurant was so accomodating. I felt priveleged to be shown inside the inner sanctum and come a little closer to uncovering the well kept secrets of the British Curry House.

In SUMMARY Dhanmondi is a likeable local.

Willp2328score: 6/10

Wednesday 2 January 2008

Tiffin Club - Southampton

A new corner restaurant, the PLACE is really just one high ceilinged dining room large enough for 30 diners or the Indian cricket squad who visited during their summer tour. The basement kitchen sends up creative dishes in a dumb waiter, then carried to table by very polite, well spoken staff with a genuine passion for the food being turned out below. SERVICE impressed.

Main courses arrive plated up, sides and sundries do not both at a more reasonable PRICE than any other posh curry joint around Southampton’s trendy Oxford Street. A meal for 3 with drinks costing 59 pounds was easy to swallow. Just as well as – I had a sore throat. Although a thick Mango and Pommegranate Lassi soothed my thoracic irritation. After thin crisp poppadoms I ordered Stuffed Squid. The Squid was wobbly and beautifully tender, not in the least bit rubbery, the filling of prawns and chilli with a suggestion of rosemary (in indian cuisine?) slightly bitter.

Mains included DJ’s seasonal venison (aka Rudolf) grilled in the tandoor to dense, sweet, tender perfection, Charli’s Mita Aloo, light creamy, fluffy sweet potatoes and my Nizami – strips of chicken in a smooth sour mustardy sauce ambushed by occasional slivers of chilli, root ginger, with a round sulphurous garlicky finish. All rather good. Methi Aloo, waxy, melt in the mouth new potatoes stir fried with pungent fenugreek and a little spinach was a great accompaniment. Similar accolades for Asparagus and sesame dish across the table. Pilau, plentiful and buttery like popcorn. We 3 agreed to return in the new year, DJ insisting I order Shah Venison Grill and a Peshwari Naan next time.

In SUMMARY I hope this comes to pass, a venue like the Tiffin Club deserves success and if I can play a Millaganesque small part in their victory then wonderful.

Willp2328score: 7/10