11 Alma Road
Telephone: 020 8870 4588
Opening Times: Mon - Sun 5:30pm - 12am
Closest BR Train: Wandsworth Town
Average price per head: £20 including alcohol
This self billed contemporary Indian restaurant is a local's haven - popularity spread by word of mouth or a Toptable special. On this cold wintry evening, Her Royal Hag consipred to add some spice and fire to our bellies without breaking the bank and came up with The Chutney. The combination of contemporary indian cuisine, albeit just only slight above your average, served up in a slightly luxurious settings (no guarantee of service though!) will prove to be a popular local treat.
This restaurant sits just off East Hill road in Putney, hidden in between all the cute Victorian terraced housing. Looking down the street at night, you're likely to miss the restaurant but once you're outside it, its definitely hard to miss. Its fiery red feature wall is a bold statement, as are the fire engine red and black leather seats dotted around tables lined with sleek, crisp white sheets. And for bold statements like these, one would either love it or hate it. The reaction around our table was certainly a mixed bag. Personally, I thought that it was a bold statement which worked to bring up the tone of otherwise typical Indian restaurant. With the distinct and polished interior, The Chutney certainly strived to achieve a touch of class and uphold its mantra of contemporary Indian cuisine.
Once seated, menus distributed and drinks in hand we perused a menu which had enough items for those accustomed to Indian cuisine (pakoras, onion bhajis, tandoori meats of all sorts etc) and also had enough interesting choices which were absent from a typical indian takeaway. On this occasion, our party decided to spurn the starters and head straight for the main courses. After downing our menus and sitting there patiently, we were ignored by the 2 waiters on duty who were going around other tables and providing what seemed to be exemplary service. It would have been nice to see some that hospitality thrown our way, but never mind, we weren't to be deterred. After getting their attention 3 times, we were finally graced with a waiter bearing pen and paper who took our orders without any drama. Unfortunately, this was only the first sign of the relatively poor service to come.
After our orders were dispensed and a customary 15 minutes wait, the kitchen began to deliver and us hags were beginning to get appeased. We're just too easy - yes, give us poor service...we may not tip you but then again, if the food's great you can bet last night's dinner that we'll be back before you can finish the leftovers. Well, what can I say? The food was pretty okay - although out of the 7 mains we ordered, only one or two stood up as above average. The rest was pretty much average - don't get me wrong..it wasn't bad, it was just okay. Yeah, I'd probably come back - after all its your nicer than average Indian restaurant in terms of ambience and price wise, its not unreasonably hefty, although there are others out there better value for money (Lahore Karahi - comes to mind. Well, the review is on its way).
So let's get right to it. The first dish that arrived on the table was the Murgh Handi Lazeez and right on its tail was the Goan Fish Curry. After the waiter scurried back to the kitchen to fetch the rest of the food, we were a little perplexed. One was a fish curry, described as a Goan specialty, cooked with an assortment of herbs and spices. The other was a chicken dish, cooked in exactly the same sauce - confirmed after 5 separate positive taste tests. Ah well, can't win them all I guess but it would have been appreciated if our waiter had informed us that we were about to get the same curry, just with different meats. When questioned about this at the end of the meal, we found out that the main difference between the curries was they were very similar with the exception that one was cooked with coconut cream and the other coconut milk. Well, a subtle difference and not one that we could have tasted much difference but either way, but both were tasty nevertheless.
The chicken briyani was one of the dishes that outshone the others - fluffy rice, with large chunks of well spiced chicken (good proportions of chicken to rice I might add) was one of the highlights. This and the pumpkin marsala, probably the best dish of the night. The delicate pumpkin was seasoned and spiced just right and cooked to perfection - not too mushy and not too hard. Yes, a very scientific and accurate description but there you go.
Our other selections of the night was the sag aloo (spinach and potatoes) - quite flavoursome but someone was slightly too heavy handed with the salt. The bhindi (okra) was still crunchy and tasty and the Bhuna Ghost, a mild lamb curry was pretty good.
Overall the quality of the food was decent and slightly above your average take away, as indicated by the prices as well. A look at the take away/delivery (free delivery within a 3 mile radius) menu doesn't indicate any concessions for take-away, although one is qualified for a 10% discount for pick ups. On this occasion, our main complaint was the sloppy service and the inattentiveness of our waiter. Although orders were repeated (by him!), items were still left out, incorrect orders, glasses remained empty and uncollected etc. All this contributed to the overall dissatisfied experience, although I'm not sure that the other patrons would have had the same complaint. It just seemed that at our table service was more lacking than others and we were only paid full attention at the end of the night when we paid the bill.
If you're after a nice cosy Indian restaurant which has a touch more class that the norm, head down to The Chutney. Especially if you can get a 50% off from toptable, that should help buffer the pain of crappy service once you get the bill.