Saturday, March 21, 2015

Zahza Grill - The final gap in the Cambridge Indian restaurant scene has been filled!

Cambridge has always been a place well equipped with a good selection of Indian restaurants, especially for our tiny population. 
We have even been blessed with a couple of traditional Indian restaurants such as The Rice Boat and Cocum. Both of which have added that extra dimension to the Indian restaurant scene in Cambridge for anyone thinking of venturing out and trying something other than just the usual spicy slop in a bucket. 
That being said, we have still lagged behind larger cities such as London for a diverse selection of Indian establishments. 
It looks as though things are about to change however, we have had a bit of a revelation lately in the city since the opening of Navadhanya a few months back, offering high end Michelin rated Indian cuisine. A first for the city, and now it seems more good news has arrived. 


Thats right, the Zahza Grill in Trumpington has now opened. Offering not only Indian grill to its customers but a selection of Indian style burgers and the usual curries we all know and love, even some Thai and English food has been added to its huge menu in case you happen to be dining with someone particularly fickle (and we all know there is usually one in a group!).

Located at the place I have often consider "the cursed tandoori", which has changed hands more times than I can remember. 
Before Zahza, it was Bollywood Spice, before that it was the Spice Merchant, and that is only in the past 2 years! That place never seems to have much luck. 
I have often pegged the lack of success of this establishment as its location, and it offering of nothing new from what you can get around the corner anywhere else. Being situated at the Trumpington end of Long Road, it is reasonably isolated and can be a bit of a mission for anyone wanting to dine here. If the place offers something you can get almost anywhere else, why bother with the mission? 

Zahza, with its new genre, now offers a wide selection of food and something a little different with the grill theme. So fingers crossed it is here to stay and I wish them the best of luck!



From the outside the place is well lit and has a lot of bright signs on the outside, so its easy to find! Luckily for us the place is well presented on the inside too. Back in the days of the Spice Merchant it was vile and you felt dirty just sitting inside. The place had damp up the walls and had a filthy carpet. That was quite a few years ago now and all that has changed, it clearly has had a lot of work done. You can see it had a lick of paint and a good clean so its looking very clean and modern now. 

Good work lads!

My good friend Caspar and I were greeted by the staff who showed us to our seats. For a Friday night the place was not exactly heaving so we pretty much had our pick of tables. 

We ordered some poppadoms while we had a look at the menu. Which was MASSIVE by the way!

They do a selection of ales as well as beers, which is refreshing. As well as having Kingfisher on tap. Sadly we were told that the taps were out of order, though this might not be the case by the time you arrive in the future. 
They offered Cobra and Kingfisher bottles instead, which was fine, though they do work out quite a bit more expensive at a staggering £4.50 for the 660ml! (Ouch!)


The poppadoms were brought out with four side sauces. Yoghurt, mango chutney, onion salad and lime pickle. All my favourites were there, all portion sizes were generous and were of a high standard. So Zahza was off to a good start! The poppadoms themselves were of a good size and thickness too, so they went down a treat

There was such a rich and diverse selection of dishes on the menu, from grill, Afghanistani dishes, Indian curries, burgers, and some Thai and English food too. There was something for everyone here, and the place was reasonably priced (though by no means as cheap as Tayyabs in London).  In fact, there was so much choice we couldn't make up our minds for quite a while, so Caspar went for prawns as a starter, and I had some lamb chops to give us more time while we decided. 

Lamb chops

The food was brought out quickly and was presented excellently. There were no complaints from Caspar for his prawns and my lamb chops tasted very good. Though I did find that mine was only a single pork chop, and that pork chop did consist of about 60% bone, so it was hardly satisfying for the £5.95 I paid for it! I wouldnt order it again. 

Once we finished we decided to order our main meal. 

I went for the "Zahza Speical Grill" which comes with a bit of everything from tandoori chicken to sheek kebab and lamb, all covered in their trade mark sauce.  I thought it would be a good way of sampling a bit of everything and also a good way of getting to know what the restaurant was all about. It also came with a side portion of rice, which is always welcome with any sauce dish. 

 The Zahza special.

The dish made a good meal. I had a great selection of meats and the rice portion was very generous and well prepared. It is certainly one for the big of appetite! Both portions were massive. The Zahza sauce turns the mixed grill in to a bit of a curry with numerous mixed meats and works very well. 
I would recommend this to anyone looking for something different yet at the same time something quite familiar.  In the end the portions were just that little too much for me and I couldn't finish the last bit, but I gave it my all I promise!
 I would have liked to have seen a bit more spice in this, but I know a lot of people do not order a mixed grill for its heat but a little tang would have made this a lot more exciting.

The Zahza special with rice.

I cannot make up my mind about the meat quality here. I feel like a place which promotes itself as a grill dominated menu should have sublime meat. Naturally I am comparing it to other similar places I have been to in London like Tayyabs, which is a tall order. The meat quality is by no means poor but doesn't grab me either. I would love to know what other people think in the comments below!

Caspar had the vindaloo with naan. I tried a bit myself and tasted pretty decent. It certainly was not as hot as some of the other restaurants in Cambridge but that can be forgiven considering this is more of a grill place. 

The service here is punctual and polite, though a little too polite. They seemed almost scared to make a conversation with you. Often whispering/speaking very lightly. It was quite annoying. Otherwise they were well presented, effective and by no means offensive.


The restaurant has had a lot of work done to it from the last time I was in here, which is great considering the dark days of The Spice Merchant.
Despite the place getting zero stars during a surprise health inspection last year, it comes across as incredibly clean and also had a 5 star food rating now, which is the important thing. There is a good selection of free parking and its big enough to house any number of people in the restaurant.

The restaurant has something for everyone with its huge and diverse menu. I would suggest this place would be ideal for parties as it caters for so many tastes, does many sharer platters and is big enough for almost any amount of people. 
I seriously doubt anyone will leave disappointed, or certainly hungry. That being said, I cant help but feel that this place wouldnt blow anyone's socks off either.  

Zahza certainly fills a gap in the Cambridge Indian restaurant scene, and does it well. It isnt going to challenge places like Tayyabs in London for "king of grill", but it will serve Cambridge just fine. I am really excited about the goings on in Cambridge these days as it seems we have a healthy selection of four different types of Indian restaurants floating around, so there is now something for everyone and is slowly becoming and Indian foodies paradise! I hope this place breaks the tandoori curse and becomes a success!

7/10

Thanks for reading!