5 Putney Hill
Putney. SW15 6BA
Nearest Tube: East Putney/ Putney BR
Average price per person: £20 (Entrees, mains, dessert and a drink)
We had been eagerly anticipating the opening of this restaurant for weeks. “Indian Canteen Dining” the opening banner proudly proclaimed. So when it finally opened, we rushed in after a week. We abide by the rule – always try to support your friendly local restaurants. If the food rocks – even better. The exterior is ultra modern with large windows and modern bright orange signs. Seating is canteen style with wooden benches and long tables. Funky blue lighting inlaid into the ceiling reminds you that you’re not just at your average “curry in a hurry after a massive booze-up” joint.
The one thing that hit me upon entering was the brightness of the place. Down spot halogen lighting. Too harsh I thought and it kinda made me feel uncomfortable. Anyone who knows me, knows I like to blend in with my surroundings. Blend in. Anonymity. This place makes you feel like you’ve just stumbled into a football field with floodlights – naked. All blemishes and imperfections revealed in their full glory.
Squinting from the glare, we were seated by friendly staff and perused the menu. A sparse collection of art work adorned the white walls. The place was three-quarters packed for a weekday night. Full of young professionals and the like. Starters ranged from £3.50 to £7.95. Mains covered vegetarian, chicken, lamb, prawns and fish and ranged from £7.50 to £12.95. Desserts are all £2.95.
All alcohol on the menu was reasonably priced and a portion is donated to the Save the Children fund and NSPCC. Very noble and worthwhile causes. The Other Hag and The Man opted for a mango lassi (£2.75) and lime juice (£1.95) in vain desperation to appear to prepare for their 10km run in the following three weeks. The prince consort and I opted for a reasonable tasting house red (£2.00). We couldn’t believe how cheap it was.
The main courses came after a brief wait. Portions are reasonable. Not stingy and miniscule, but certainly not generous. We ordered one dish per person to share and should have ordered more.
The Mixed Tandoori platter (£10.95) was decidedly average with the run of the mill charred blackened lamb, chicken and prawns. All were on the verge of dryness, not at all juicy.
The Machli Masala (£7.95) was my favourite. A medium sized portion of chunky fresh cod bathing in their own tomato based curry sauce.
Saag (£3.95), a small portion of spinach cooked with garlic and herbs was average.
Gosht Jalfrezi (£7.95) wasn’t awful but certainly was disappointing. We all thought the lamb was a little over-cooked and stingy in the meat proportions.
Baigan Bharta (£4.50) was an eggplant dish. Tasty and freshly made.
(Hehehe…after reviewing all the pictures, all the dishes are garnished with a bright red cherry tomato. Kinda like “find the clown cleverly hidden in the curry”. Or an Indian version of Where’s Waldo?)
We all decided that the meal was quite OK and that it would be worthwhile to come back again and check out the other dishes. The restaurant had the freshness of the food going for them and the effort to make the individual curries taste different. The other big pro was that they didn’t drench their food in ghee. And don’t forget that drinks are pretty cheap for a restaurant. Imagine our shock when the bill came. £10 for basmatic rice between 4 people. The servings of rice weren’t even filling. We could have all easily eaten more. I nimbly calculated in my head. For £12 you can buy 20kg of American short-grain rice at an Asian/Oriental supermarket and feed a small village in favour of birth control. Easily. Shame on them. Appearing to be all charitable and pure by donating their alcoholic proceeds to charities. They should donate the ludicrous profits they make on the rice instead. The cheek of them. They should bow their heads in shame. We all know how much rice should really cost. If you’re going to charge that much, at least make it free flow.
With a humph we left the place vowing never to return. Maybe we will if they lower their rice charges. Or make it BYO - for rice, that is. For us, rice is a basic need, like water. Shouldn’t be exploited but provided freely. We paid £54 in all for 3 mains, 2 sides and 4 drinks. Should have been cheaper – if it weren’t for the rice.
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