Sunday, November 9, 2014

As I was going to St Ives (Part 1)...Montaz

As you may or may not know, I recently moved to the fine city of Ely. Naturally one of the first things I did was go around and sample all the Indian restaurants to see what the city had to offer. The conclusion I came too was that Montaz was the best all round Indian restaurant for dining in.

While doing some research on Montaz online I noticed that it has many sister restaurants located all around the orbital area of Cambridge.

As you can see by the website, they are located in St Ives, Brampton, Newmarket, Bourne, as well as Ely. So I took it on myself as a bit of a challenge to try them all. 

Over the past few months I have been in the St Ives area visiting family or my girlfriend, who all live in the area. This for me was the perfect opportunity to check out one of the Montaz restaurants and see if the chain had a consistent quality.


One I had found the place, located in St Ives town center, the first thing you notice is how different it looks compared to the Montaz of Ely.
Where the Ely restaurant was in an old Tudor house with wooden beams across the interior ceiling and with a very traditional Indian feel too in presentation, the Montaz St Ives comes across as very sleek, modern and very warm, inside and out. So in a way polar opposites.

I think I preferred the style of Montaz St Ives to the one in Ely, St Ives has a very warm feel to it with low lighting and orange and brown walls. I like the style and feels good being in there and the places comes across as very clean and new. The one in Ely is quite cramped, old and the English Tudor house just seems to clash with the exotic theme of Indian restaurants. Thats just me though, it might not bother most people. 


We were seen quite quickly once we arrived. The staff were very friendly and welcoming. We were given a table right near the window which was great for people watching. Upon looking at the menu the place seemed to be roughly average prices, probably a bit more expensive than normal. 

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the prawns were only approximately £4.25, which was a nice change from the £9 I experienced at The Rice Boat the other week. 

They had a selection of Cobra and Kingfisher beer on tap, which is good enough. 

There was a modest selection of food on the menu, nothing which would blow you away like at Lalbagh in Bourne, but the basics. They seem to do a lot of fish on their specials menu, which was a little out my price range to try tonight. 

I ended up going for the boring old curry, though I decided to go for the tandoori prawns too. I had the chicken tikka vindaloo with rice. My father went for the Biriyani. We also went for poppadoms (as you do) and some naan bread. 

The poppadoms: 

We were presented with some poppadoms. They were of average texture, but that wasnt where Montaz excelled. Their yoghurt was incredibly thick and full of flavour. It was served in a white china jug so the quantity was decent too. 

The Onion salad tasted nice, though nothing amazing. The mango chutney and lime pickle looked home made and were fantastic. I tend to find a lot of the chutney and lime pickle are the same most places you go, but it seems like the Montaz chain makes their own or gets it from a different supplier. Its worth a look for anyone who loves their poppadoms like I do!


The Prawns: 

The service was fast and effective. They were out within about 20 minutes. The first to come out were the prawns. Though I was pleased to see that they were under half the price that they were at The Rice Boat, we only received 2 very large ones, rather than 6 large ones. The Rice Boat was easily the better value for money here as they also tasted nicer than they did at Montaz. Thats not taking anything away from Montaz here, they were very nice too and went down lovely, there is no shame coming second to The Rice Boat.
I would recommend them to anyone. They were also presented with a nice salad too.


The Main Course:

Once our meal came out it was presented on a hot metal tray. All the food was well presented, especially my fathers Biriyani. I got a decent portion of rice and my vindaloo looked sublime. I really couldnt wait to get stuck in!



 My chicken tikka vindaloo didnt taste right. It had a very huge taste of tomato in the dish. It was very hot which was great, though hot in a different way, it almost felt like it was made spicy with hot sauce or some sort of chemical. It was not very appealing. In fact it was the first curry I havent finished in a long time. 
In their defence, the chicken was beautiful, its was succulent and had good flavour, its just a shame it was soaked in a horrible sauce. 

 The Keema Naan is always a treat, something my dad always liked to order when eating out at an Indian. I am more of a Peshwari Naan guy myself. That being said, compared to others I have had I did feel the meat stuffing inside was stingy, The bread itself was of good size and tasted great though. 

Biriyani: 


My dad was not too keen on his biriyani. He didnt like the texture and the flavour. Being his usual dish I tend to agree that he knows what he is talking about so I felt his word was enough to put in this review. The dish was very well presented if thats any consolation. 


The hot towels were provided, which was defiantly needed after that hot vindaloo!

Overall I was disappointed with the Montaz. For a place which blew me away in its sister restaurant in Ely, this place just lacked the quality of the food. The service and style of the place was great but without a decent meal, what is the point? 
I like to think that the place was just having a bad day, but sadly I have too many other places to try to go back and try again any time soon. I would love to hear feedback from anyone else who has been before or goes again soon. 

4/10