Thursday 10 July 2008

Ouch! Gurkha on Gurkha: Grayshott's Durbar versus Liphook's Chautari

Although now part of the same concern, there remains enough difference between the restaurants to make a comparison worthwhile, not least the geographical fact one is in Grayshott and the other in Liphook.

Factoring in the the inflated cost of petrol (ignoring the railways), for those just above the poverty line - with digital TV, membership of the local cinema and the means to afford a meal out, i.e. 20k with kids, 14k without - which is really worth the traveling too? The following 'best for...' may help you decide.

aperitifs: CHAUTARI - The Links has flourished under new management -lovely terrace too

dining room: CHAUTARI - a little more spacious and light

tables/chairs: DURBAR - there's a round table!

crockery/cuttlery: DURBAR - lovely cast iron recipticle for lentils, blue rimmed china bowls for chutneys

toilets: DURBAR - less like my Aunts

service: CHAUTARI - staff in the Durbar are pleasant and polite just less efficient(not helped by the bar which is almost out the back door)

poppadoms: TIE

chutneys: DURBAR - excellent homestyle lime and chilli chutney, better HPesque Tamarind sauce

starters: CHAUTARI - both offer Chicken Livers (Kalejo) and salt spiced Lamb nuggets (Choila) but only at Liphook can you enjoy Bhuteko Prawns, pan fried, plump and sea fresh in a mild, thin tomato sauce obliging high notes of heady coriander leaf and sultry earthiness

clay oven: CHAUTARI - a close one but the char grilled meat and fish at Liphook cannot be matched, e.g. Pahadi Kurkhura, chicken in a sour yoghurt, spear minty, green chilli strong coating

curries: TIE - never had one that hasn't been at least good. Some have been truly superior including Ameelo Jinga (high class heady, sweet and sour Prawns), Bhutuwa Lamb (in a thick, rich paste with red peppers), Khursani Kukhura (egg battered strips of chicken in a tasty dish infused with sesame oil, strangely reminiscent of pancakes with brown sugar and lemon), Khatmandu Ko Wasa (best quality stewed lamb in a hot rich, smooth curry, pepper laden with a strong undertones of red wine and acetous cardamom) as well as Monkfish in a smooth, light tomato orange sauce, that sang of several spices

vegetables: CHAUTARI - spot on Jeera Aloo - rich round waxy baby potatoes plus my favourite Aubergine dish in smoky, spicy, soy marinade

dal: DURBAR - creamy ochre yellow lentils tempered with toasty cumin seeds and garlic, Kalo dal, savoury, mild black lentils

rice: DURBAR - really fragrant rice simmered in whole milk and toasted cashews

bread: DURBAR - truly toothsome Gulio Roti's, soft buttery dough stuffed with raisin and almond paste

wine: TIE - similar wine lists, both par for the course. They tend to serve wine at the correct
temperature though

beer: DURBAR - they offer two Nepali beers not one

dessert: forget it!

freebies: none as yet!

prices: TIE - for all the above expect to pay the same whichever you're at

gurkha heritage: DURBAR - you might see a real Gurkha major (the owner)

In conclusion, if you live in Grayshott or Liphook then count yourself lucky, you've an excellent local on your threshold. If you don't then at the time of writing I'd opt for the Durbar (just!) over the Chautari. Why? For all aforementioned differentials, there's simply more choice on the menu.

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