Monday, June 29, 2015

Chillies - Brick Lane.

I decided to go for a wonder down Brick Lane a while back and pick a place at random. I was in one of those moods where I was tired of doing home work and research. I was in the area and thought I would just stumble in to a random curry house and see what I could find.

Naturally, this is where the blaggers of Brick Lane come in to play and try and drag you in to their restaurant, but hey, I was game, its all part of the dance.

So many different people representing the Indian houses of Brick Lane trying to convince me to come in and eat at their establishment. It was all a bit demanding and manic but part of the Brick Lane experience. 

Everyone was claiming to be the best, everyone was claiming to be the cheapest, everyone was claiming to have won awards. I felt like the bell of the ball! 

I ended up being convinced by a young man who gave me an irresistible deal at a place called "Chillies", which claims to have won chef of the year. The place was somewhere I was already familiar with so I thought I would give it a shot. The place looked fresh and exciting from the out side with its bright red neon lighting which added to the excitement of being given a fantastic deal. They offered me an incredible deal which came with pretty much everything for only £20 for two. They offered me 2 starters, 2 mains, 2 sides, papadums, 2 desserts, 2 drinks and a partridge in a pair tree!.
How could I couldn't resist?

Upon entering we were less than blown away by the basic and worn interior. The carpet looked old and the place was very dark and dim. There was a TV in the background with Indian TV and the place was pretty quiet for Brick Lane on a Saturday night. 

I went for the usual. Chicken tikka vindaloo, onion bahji's, garlic naan, papadums, lamb tikka, rice and some cake. We both went for a glass of red wine. 

The food came out quickly on a wheelie tray and was presented reasonably well. Sadly my phone at the time was a pathetic 5 megapixel camera which did NOTHING in this dark hole of a restaurant so I didn't bother taking any photos. 

The food was quite good, though below some of the quality of its rivals such as Aladins and Monsoon. That being said, the price was much cheaper, which is saying something as both rival restaurants were quite cheap as it is! We were eating for a tenner each and that included drinks so it was hard to complain! 

The service here was quick and cold. Some might like this fast and effectiveness. It certainly seems to be the case in other Brick Lane establishments, though the one difference for me was that in places like Aladins and Tayyabs where it is CONSTANTLY HEAVING, you understand why they want you in and out. Here, you couldn't understand why they were in such a rush and had no time for chit chat.  The place was not even half full.

I am aware this review was brief and basic. I have been meaning to do this review for over 6 months now and I didn't feel like any of the photos I took did it any justice in this dark and gloomy restaurant, so the review looks a bit bare. Which put me off doing it even more. 

The place is very modern and exciting from the front, but once you enter you feel a little let down. The food is, without a doubt, great value, but with so many better high quality places so close which put Chillies to shame in terms of food quality, I do wonder if its worth paying that extra fiver for better cuisine and a better atmosphere. 

I would easily recommend over rivals on Brick Lane over Chillies. Unless you are really really hard up for cash. I can imagine this being a go-to place for people who live close by in the area because of its value and reasonable quality, but if you are coming from across or outside London then you are much better off paying that little (and I mean little) bit more for that extra quality and atmosphere!

Chillies gets a good rating from me, but mainly because it is good food for VERY cheap! 


Friday, June 26, 2015

Troubles with Royal Spice

After a brief weekend away with my girlfriend we had a hankering for something to eat the moment we got off the plane. Naturally the first thing I hanker for when travelling abroad is a good curry. Europe has never been able to do a good curry in my experience, so on the drive back from the airport we decided we were a little too tired to cook so we put an order through at Royal Spice. 

Royal Spice is one of my favourite Indian take away's in Cambridge. In the past it has always been punctual, good value, and had the best (and most generous) food portions. So I was well looking forward to getting stuck in after a long day travelling as we were both dead tired.

What better thing to come home too?

Royal Spice, Victoria Avenue - 01223 304455

We managed to get home about half an hour after ordering it in the car, we had timed it just right...or so we thought! 
Usually this would leave the average Indian restaurant about 15 minutes to get to your house in good time. Royal Spice being located on the other side of Milton Road means that it shouldn't take too long for them to get to us! 

After an hour of waiting we were starting to wonder where our food had gotten too. We phoned up Royal Spice and asked where our food was. Apparently it was going to be with us in another 45 minutes on top of the 60 minutes we had already been waiting. Naturally this is completely unacceptable. We had people in the same house as us who ordered 30 minutes after we did who were receiving their food. This is particularly teasing considering they too had ordered Indian food so we had to sit there and watch them eat it.

We ordered through Just Eat, so I thought it might have been a problem on their end. We contacted the website and talked to one of their people over the "chat" option. They checked their system and stated that the order went through no problem. 

The people at Just Eat couldn't be more helpful, they were polite, professional and even went to the trouble of calling up Royal Spice for us to see what the problem was. The "chat" feature was free, easy to use and no waiting in queues, I highly recommend it if you have any trouble with online orders in the future.
Once they had talked to the good people at Royal Spice the plot started to thicken, apparently, whether this is true or not, they had some vehicle troubles so it was taking longer to make deliveries. 

The people at Just Eat offered a £5 refund for the trouble, though by this point I was tired from travelling all day and incredibly hungry, but it was a good gesture from Royal Spice and Just Eat, though personally, I would have just preferred to have my food!

Nearly two hours later our food arrived from a man who looked like he had been rushing around a lot, very apologetic. We took our food and he was on his way. 

Curry achieved! 

The food itself was fine, though not the blinding high standards I come to remember from Royal Spice, which added insult to injury. 

It seems that vehicle trouble can happen to anyone, especially a small business like Royal Spice, so I have decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and not review the experience but merely share it. There will be no score, or description of the food. 

I want to thank the good people at Just Eat for their help, they made a very stressful situation that much easier and managed to convince the good people at Royal Spice to compensate me for my troubles. 

I will be coming back soon and giving them a second chance as part of my "Indian restaurant take away tour of Cambridge". 

Thanks for reading! 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Kismet - Romsey town curry!

After my god awful experience with Royal Spice the other week, I decided to continue my take away review saga and see what the Kismet had to offer. Like Royal Spice, this place has a sterling reputation with people in Cambridge, especially in the Romsey Town area.

One could argue that it is a bit of a hidden gem in Cambridge. Its an easy place to miss and a hard place to find. Its dead in the centre of Romsey Towns residential area of many many identical streets and one way systems. Though in my opinion, its a place well worth looking for...or better yet, just order through Just Eat and get it delivered!

As we all may or may not know, Just Eat couldn't be easier to order from. Everything is listed and you just tick what you want. They had a decent selection of cuisine on the menu and a selection of English dishes. Being located dead in the centre of Mill Road they are excellently located, so deliveries shouldn't take too long. Luckily for me I was ordering from my mums house which is only around the corner, so I was collecting, but their delivery time was still only 30 minutes which is good by any standard no matter how close.

We ordered a few curries, a chicken tikka vindaloo, some papadums, saag aloo, onion bhaji, chips and rice. Once the food was ordered we headed out about 10 minutes after ordering, we walked down the road and by the time we got there we were only waiting a few trivial minutes and our food was done...BOOM, just like that! 
 Chicken curry, rice and their questionable onion bhaji's. 

I do sometimes question the quality of the food if it has been prepared that quickly but I can assure you that all the quality was there. Nothing from our order was missed and everything was presented well, with generous portions. We even got a few extra papadums than we ordered, which is common, but worth noting as not all places do this. They even threw in some free yoghurt to go with them. 

Chicken tikka vindaloo, onion rice, saag aloo. Sploosh! 

Once on my plate, the food looked fantastic! The curry had an excellent texture to it and the chicken was tikka'd perfectly. The onion rice was out of this world. The taste was good, it was colourful and the texture was exactly how it should be. The saag aloo was very decent also. I was a little disappointed with the onion bhaji but it was by no means awful.

Naturally, I woofed down the entire lot like an animal, though something troubled me...Something was not quite its usual self during this vindaloo dining experience. The look, the texture, the flavour, was all spot on. 

What was missing?....NO HICCUPS! 

Yes, the vindaloo was not at all spicy. I was a little disappointed by this. It might be suggested that anyone ordering this over the phone may want to ask for their curry hot if need be. If ordering on Just Eat it might be worth mentioning in the comment box with your order. Otherwise you may suffer the same fate as me. This was not a big deal mind as everything else was pretty much perfect.

Conclusion: Well, so far on my "Indian restaurant take away tour of Cambridge", the Kismet is kicking arse and leaving Royal Spice a distant second. It just seems to get everything right. The food costs about average but I still consider it good value as all the food was all fantastic. The service was quick and the place is centrally located which makes it quite convenient.

I wouldnt recommend anyone coming to collect from here if you do not live close by as parking is a NIGHTMARE in this part of Romsey. I would personally just get them to deliver it or just walk yourself if you live close by.

Please be mindful if you like curry HOT like me, then you are probably going to have to request it so.