Thursday 9 April 2009

Bengal Lancer - Kentish Town, NW5

'Bengal Lancer' means 'prancer' in rhyming slang. As well as conjuring memories of all them upper class, cavalry types, hangin' around Kolkata, with big whiskers n' a jolly guffaw, gettin' all the women, it manages to produce some decent food.

Chris and I, like fallouts from the grunge scene, traipsed in for a quick bite before going to see the Eagles (of Death Metal).

The chutney tray was ok but overpriced, indeed everything is just a little more expensive here. However, when our meal came it was almost worth £20 each.

I had Chicken Hyrdabad, which was rather good. Great hunks of flesh in a rich coconut paste with big creamy cashew and candle nuts, as well as a garnish of raw carrot and green chillies that in truth didn't really register because of a mild undertone. Roast parnsips were fine - a throwback to the Indian Raj - while Chris' Chasnidargh was a full-on maroon coloured, sweet, balsamic curry, again perfectly acceptable. A cute bowl of ochre yellow pilau and a bubbling garlic Naan tasted as lovely as they appeared.

The restaurant has a reputation that stretches beyond the rather unassuming surrounds of Kentish Town Road. I would have to go back to ascertain whether it is deserved but it made a more than satisfactory pit stop all the same, and care had clearly been taken in the kitchen to produce interesting and well presented dishes.

FOOD (& DRINK): 3.5 (only stella on tap!!)

Will2328 score: 6.5/10

Sea Raj, Grayshott

We had a blank Wednesday evening after the Curry Club's visit to Chilli Night was postponed until May, so we decided to try the Sea Raj in Grayshott again.

This restaurant's claim to fame is fish - and subject to availability, it can offer a good variety from Asia, including Tilaphia, Pangass, Pabda, Boal, Ayre, Khakia (Garfish) and Bang Mass. There is also a range of fish that you'd expect to see on a European menu. The exotic varieties are explained in the menu, and the restaurant's system is that you select a fish, and then add a sauce or cooking charge to it. Because we're not familiar with the Asian fish, it's difficult to know if any of the traditional curry sauces will suit. On a previous visit, grilled tilaphia and boal were very good, but jalfrezi really didn't go well with boalfish.

There's a good range of starters, many of them based on seafood, but on the night, spicy crispy fried sprats were off, and a king prawn puree and a kp butterfly had to suffice. The puree was good, lots of flavours, very tasty, but the king prawn butterfly was a mass of breadcrumbs and little to taste. Crab meat in coconut sauce, or scallops in garlic butter would have been a better choice.

We decided to try a couple of meat main courses this time. These were very good. The lamb jalfrezi was excellent, fresh peppers and clean flavours, with the lamb cooked exactly to the right consistency. Chicken archaria had a lovely lemon-y tang, and once again, good flavours. Naan, rice and bindi bhaji complemented the main dishes and made a very enjoyable meal.

Other aspects: It's a small restaurant, with (I guess) only about 24 covers. As it was a quiet Wednesday, we had a 4-seater table for two, and this was comfortable. The table settings were smart, crisp white table cloths and black linen napkins - very stylish. It's an attractive place to eat, but also easy to fill, so it's a good idea to book. 01428 608826.

You may be able to find some links from a Google search to the Sea Raj web site, but at the time of writing, the index (home) page was down for maintenance. The link on the title of this blog posting points to the 'menu' pages, but these included items that no longer appear in the printed menu at the restaurant.

There's now another Sea Raj restaurant in Farnham, Surrey, but this doesn't seem to have hit the Internet yet. We'll keep you posted.

Tuesday 7 April 2009

April meeting cancelled

The sad news of the death of Brian Barnes, former landlord of the Old Drum in Petersfield, and a good friend to many Curry Club members, meant that too few wanted to go ahead with the April meeting.

When I joined the Curry Club, the Drum was our regular drinking spot both before and after meetings, and it even served the meal on one occasion (or more?). After he left, we migrated to Foggys. He'll be missed by many.

Accordingly, we've postponed the visit to Chilli Night until our May date, Wednesday 13th May.