A restaurant which pops up often when asking people about their favourite Indian in Cambridge is Pipasha's.
Located down Newmarket Road opposite the Cambridge UTD Abbey stadium, Pipasha's it isnt much of a sight to behold from the outside. Yet it seems to be a place many people choose over many other fine establishments in Cambridge.
So I thought I would assemble the Cambridge Curry Crew and check it out for ourselves!
The response I received when setting up the event on Facebook was incredibly positive . Like I stated above, this place seems to go down well with the people. We managed to get a respectable crowd of 12 people to the event. Some coming as far as Norwich.
A few of us decided to go a bit early and have a warm up beer at the table. We were greeted on entry and shown to our table and served immediately. I have been to Pipasha's quite a few times in the past so I am very familiar with their friendly, chatty and approachable staff.
Kingfisher beers were under £4. So by no means cheap, yet still respectable for the city of Cambridge.
We looked at the menu to see it was incredibly well put together. There was a great labelling system and it was printed in a very professional manner. It was easy to read and the vegetarian dishes were clearly labelled, along with heat gauges.
The decoration in the restaurant was basic, but by no means horrible. We were seated next to a fire exit so most of what we could see to one side was a lot of health and safety signs. I wouldn't like to say the place was traditional or modern, it was just very plain. This goes for the same on the outside of the building too.
As people started to wander in, they were seen and taken to the table. They were served immediately and given drinks at a rapid pace.
When everyone finally turned up the staff were quick to serve the rest of us. We ordered 20 papadums and given our drinks all at a hasty speed. They gave us three side sauces with our papadums which were mango chutney, onion pickle and onion salad. I was very sad to see that Lime Pickle had been missed out and that there was no yoghurt.
They did however serve the sauces in a decent sized china container. They decided to go against the size and practicality of the old metal containers you see in many other places yet still have the classy white china to hold it. It was great to not have a big ugly piece of metal on your table but it was also good to have a container which didn't run out immediately. So many places go for white china but give you these tiny little square containers to hold them in which often run out after a few spoon fulls and it drives me crazy.
Good work Pipasha!
They asked us if we wanted to make an order while we were eating our papadums as there were quite a few of us and it might take a while to cook.
They took our orders and we carried on dining.
We were expecting a wait considering our numbers, and we certainly got one! We ended up waiting well over an hour for our food but this is to be expected anywhere considering our table size.
There were a few comments about the cost of the food on the menu. It was by no means a rip off in my opinion, but we did notice that a lot of the food on the menu was a little over average. You can certainly get better value in Cambridge, probably at a slightly better quality too if you know where to look. Most people who come here probably wouldn't mind too much in my opinion, people clearly come here for the friendly customer service and geographical convenience. Pipasha is the only Indian restaurant for miles now The Shanti has closed.
The rice was a reasonable size and good texture. Though going back to the price, I paid nearly £3 for it. So rightly so!
The vindaloo could have been hotter. I like a bit of a kick with mine, and though I got my usual trade mark hiccups every time I eat a hot curry, they didn't last long. I really didn't feel like I had a blinding hot curry after my meal, which is what a vindaloo is all about. That being said, its not all about heat, the curry itself was very nice.
There were little complains from any of the other 11 people at the table either, which is a great sign as usually you get at least one person with a problem on an order that size.
Smiles all round!
When we finished they were quick to take our dishes away, the waiters were great at being efficient with their time. They were always quick to pop up to take an order or take something away without hassling us too much. They have waiting down to a fine art in here!
After they had taken everything away nearly everyone declined a desert.
They brought out the hot towels, which were in reality, warmed up wet wipes. I did my usual sponge bath at the table with it and I was pleased to see that the thing did manage to stay warm for at least a little while. Usually when we get those pathetic little wet wipes they go cold immediately. So I wasn't completely disappointed. I would have still liked to have had a real hot towel.
We were given chocolates with our bill, which did come to slightly more than we were expecting. We were offered no aniseed sweets, mints or shots. Usually this is common, especially when you have a large crowd, so again, I did feel a bit disappointed but I was not surprised.
Conclusion: Pipasha impressed me and everyone else tonight. They managed to serve 12 of us around a table and they did it well. The food all came out at once, they were fast, efficient, friendly and nothing went wrong. Its so easy to make a mistake when catering for so many people yet they managed to serve all 12 of us without a single problem. They are defiantly good at serving groups at this restaurant.
The food tasted great and the rice served was with a good texture.
That being said, we did pay for it. The prices weren't incredibly competitive and the papadums disappointed with the poor selection of side sauces.
The decoration was uninspiring and didn't really fall in to any category other than "white". I know they no longer have to compete with The Shanti around the corner (RIP) but it really could do with a little work with the interior.
I can see why this place is popular, the staff are incredibly chatty and welcoming which is one of the most important things for me. I remember coming here in the past and getting a very warm atmosphere and they will often chat your ear off. I love that in a restaurant and I think that good staff are what makes this restaurant so popular.
Efficient, professional and friendly.