Friday, 1 August 2008
Last night our friends got a babysitter for the hurricane, so we seized the opportunity for a grownup night out. Even better - Penny was on strong antibiotics, so we had a designated driver! Woohoo! Our first pick - Marcello - was closed for a staff holiday, so Penny got on the line to a neighbour who knows stuff. The neighbour who knows stuff said that there was a Punjabi members club a few suburbs down from us where you don't need to be Punjabi or a member but the food is fantastic.
I won't keep you in suspense. She was right. The food was fantastic.
We over-ordered by a long way. I think it is safe to say that when we go back (and it is when, not if) we will not be ordering a starter and a main for each person. I think we could have halved our order and still been well-fed.
The meat samosas were good. The daal bhajia (sort of Indian-spiced felafels) were delicious. But it was the chilli chicken wings (10 wings to a serve) and chilli paneer that were exceptional. I swear there was at least 500g cheese on that plate! Delicious. It tipped me towards fullness before the mains even came out. The top picture is the chilli paneer - delicious chilli-glazed cubes of pressed cottage cheese (on the menu they said tofu, which gives an idea of the texture but I am sure it was dairy).
But the mains did come out. Lamb masala was given added succulence by being cooked on the bone. Goan fish curry was fragrant, not hot but perfectly spiced. The keema mattar was the best I have ever tasted, proving yet again that curried mince is nothing to be ashamed of. Chicken Dhansak was excellent. The crisply fried okra showed that the Indians really are the best in the world at preparing these hideous slimy vegetables. And then there was rice. And peshwari naan. And garlic naan.
The thing that made Sahib's (for that is what the place is called) so much better than any other Indian we've had in Britain is that everything tasted different. I get so bored & frustrated with ordering a couple of dishes and when they come out you can tell that they just have a pot of red sauce and a pot of brown sauce sitting waiting for pre-cooked lamb or chicken or vegetables to be added. Each dish we ordered was sensitively seasoned (even the full-on chilli kick of the paneer had a richness to the heat) and had varying textures.
It wasn't all plain sailing. I had to ask a couple of times for a glass of water, it was very, very noisy and it took more than half an hour from asking for the bill before they brought out the credit card reader. Those minor cavils aside, the food was so good that it baffles me how any other Indian restaurants stay in business. It wasn't cheap but the quality! And the quantity! They packed a doggy bag, and I have just had leftover fish curry and fried okra for lunch - and it was just as good as I thought it was last night.