Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sutton tandoori.

I had the pleasure of being invited our by one of the Cambridge Curry Crew's regulars for a meal at his local Indian restaurant in the village of Sutton. Just a couple of miles out from Ely, the village of Sutton is quite small yet is lucky enough to have its very own Indian restaurant. 

My first expectations of the place werent much. It came across as a small house which has been converted in to a restaurant, so I was hardly expecting gilts and glamour. 

Upon entering I could see they had worked well with the space. There is a ramp for wheelchair users and a bar located to the left which staff were standing behind ready to greet us. We were taken to our table and seated immediately. They have done well with the space they have, especially considering how small the establishment looks from the outside, so we were off to a good start.
We were lucky enough to fall on one of the two nights in which the "Chef Special Night" was on. This gives us a selection of any starter, any main, any side, and a choice between a rice or a naan...oh, and a tea or coffee. This comes to a handsome price of £11.95 per person. So naturally we decided to take advantage of this and go for it. 
For anyone who decides to go on a night in which the promotion is not on, the photo above shows the usual prices of the curries which I think comes to a very competitive value. 

The staff were very attentive to start with. We ordered some papadums which came out almost immediately. We were pleased to see a good selection of sauces - Mango chutney, onion salad, lime pickle and red onion. Each was presented in white china pots and with generous portions. The sauces were all pretty average by none of them offended our pallet. 
Once we were done they took our plates away and we took our order. After a blinding lamb tikka vindaloo at Kaz's in Sawston the other night I was well in the mood for another lamb tikka dish! I decided to go for a mixed platter for a starters to get a good idea of what the restaurant can do, along with olive rice, saag aloo and a beer. 

I was sad to see no beer on tap in here, its bottles only i'm afraid! However, I was also pleased to see a very good selection of Indian beer available to buy on bottle. Careful though, as a large 660ml bottle (which is little over a pint) is nearly £5! 

Ouch! 
 The mixed starter - Onion Bhaji, lamb samosa and a pakora 
Duck Rangin with side salad.

My mixed starter was basic but effective. The onion bhaji was not going to win any awards but was well prepared and had a good crispy yet succulent texture. The samosa and pakora were both decent too. There was nothing else really left to say about the mixed starter. It is certainly a good deal considering the promotion and filled a gap while we waited for our main course! 

My girlfriends duck rangin was something I have never had before and had a great texture to it. The duck was lacking flavour in itself and relied too much on the sauce which made it quite bland, but I am still glad I got a chance to try it.

 Lamb tikka vindaloo.
Brinjol Bhaji and Aubergine side. 

We ended up waiting a very long time for our main course. The service went from very attentive to very slow all of a sudden. The place did fill up with people but was still only at half capacity. We thought the place was under staffed in all honesty with only two people attending the entire restaurant. One thing I have always loved about Indian restaurants over other types is that they always have a decent staff to customer ratio, but not here. 

My lamb tikka vindaloo looked good, the portions were about right and was served on top of a candle heated tray. It had a good spicy kick to it, though it had a funny flavour, more like a mix between vindaloo and a madras. The lamb was quite dry and chewy which was a disappointment as the lamb in my samosa and my girlfriends lamb salee both fell apart on the fork. 
I ordered some olive rice to come with my vindaloo, something I have never seen on a menu before. Being a massive olive addict I was keen to try this. I am very pleased to report that the rice was very nice and lived up to my expectation! I would love to see this in more restaurants!

My saag aloo side looked very appealing also. It made a great addition with the vindaloo. The potatoes were just the right texture and had a fantastic flavour. I could have eaten a ton of it. 

My girlfriends lamb salee looked very exciting and was something I had never seen before. As I said above the lamb fell apart on the fork.  

 Saag aloo served in a white china bowl. 
Olive rice...it worked! 

Once we were finished we were given the usual hot towel. These were microwaved wet wipes but were still welcomed after that hot vindaloo. We had been in the restaurant for nearly 3 hours by this point so was getting a little hot and sweaty so needed to freshen up. This was mainly down to the long waiting time for our main course. 
We were given the choice of a cup of tea or a coffee after our meal as part of the promotion, so we decided to go for a coffee. The coffee didn't look much at first but tasted fantastic and was just what I needed after a big meal like that! The coffee came with some milk and brown sugar. 
Just what the doctor ordered after a big meal like that!

Once we were done we were given the bill with some After 8 chocolates which was a nice way to end a big meal. The bill came to a little more than I first thought because of the beer prices, but nothing which was going to break the bank.

Conclusion:
The Sutton tandoori seemed to do acceptable/passable Indian food for a reasonable price. If the promotion was not on then I cant say I would recommend it to anyone coming from outside Sutton, but on a Tuesday and Wednesday nights then I would say its good value for money.

 I am sure The Sutton Tandoori serves the village well but with so much decent competition in the area I cannot recommend it for people coming from out of the village. 

The service was polite and friendly though incredibly slow and under staffed.  The place was clean and pleasant enough to be in, but it was very basic, and there was little in the way of interior decorating. 

I was pleased to see a ramp for wheelchair users and I was even more impressed with a disabled toilet (which is even more of a rarity in a small establishment like this) but was sadly undermined by the fact there was a beer fridge next to the door which prevented it from opening properly. A lot of people might be able to squeeze in but some of the wheelchair users I know would have real trouble getting in. 
Oops! You might be able to squeeze in!

I had a great evening either way with some excellent company and was able to try some new foods which I haven't seen on menu's before such as olive rice and duck rangin. I enjoyed their coffee and After 8 mints which really hit the spot after a big meal. 

5/10 - If you are going to visit, make sure its on the Tuesday or Wednesday during their Chefs Special night!

Check out their website and phone number (01353-777965/777980)

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Kaz's Indian & Bangladeshi Restaurant - Sawston.


Back in the days when I briefly lived in Sawston I used to visit a place called Redfort Gardens for my curry fix. I look back at the place fondly as though it was an unusual looking Indian restaurant, located in an old Tudor building, the place did a mean curry. I was very sad to hear that it had closed down some years ago as it was easily one of my favourite places at the time.

The place is now back open and rebranded as "Kaz's Indian and Bangladeshi Restaurant" and has been for some time now. so I was glad to come back and revisit the place 5 years later (TO THE DAY) and see what they have done with the place. 


From the outside, not much as changed, its still the same unusual looking Indian restaurant. It has had a lick of paint and I am glad to see there is still a lot of generous parking at the back for people coming from out of town.


Upon entering we had to hunt down the staff who were located at the back at the bar. They showed us to our seats which just so happened to be the back table in this photo. The place is a little cramped but comfortable once you sit down.


The place was presented well, with cutlery, napkins and flowers all laid out on the tables. They had large leather chairs which were very comfy. 


The place still feels very similar to the old English style of Redfort Gardens I remember but they have gone to the trouble of adding some nice modern touches to jazz up the place. I was quite taken by this very striking glass piece lit up with neon lights next to our table . It was a nice touch and I can imagine it looking even better as it got later into the evening.


While I was briefly at the bar I noticed they had Cobra beer and Carling on tap. I am not too sure what they were thinking with Carling, probably something to have as a cheaper option perhaps, but I am glad they had at least one Indian beer.  
They were priced at £3.90 for the Cobra and £3.70 for the Carling respectively. A little steep I'd say, but I am glad to see they aren't following the trend of "bottle only" which a lot of places seem to be adopting now days. 

I ordered myself a Cobra beer and a papadum while I studied the menu further. I was pleased to see a good selection of starters, chef specials and numerous other dishes. Kaz's should be able to cater for most people who come here though probably wont have the exotic choice and selection of its neighbour and rival - The Rang Mohol.


I was incredibly impressed with the selection of side sauces we received with our papadums. We had 5 choices of sauces ranging from mango chutney, yoghurt, lime pickle, onion salad and coconut powder. 

Each one was well prepared and tasted great.  With the exception of the lime pickle all the portions were very generous and lasted us through the entire dish.

The onion salad was finely cut which made putting it with the papadum much easier and less messy. 
The coconut powder was a fantastic addition to the group and something I do not see very often in Indian restaurants. It had a lovely flavour and added a good texture to the papadums, it received many compliments from my friends at the table so it appears to be a winner!
The yoghurt, mango chutney and lime pickle all tasted great and were incredibly thick and well made. No complaints all around. 


After feasting on my papadum and looking at the menu I decided to go for a good ol lamb tikka vindaloo. The prices of all the curries are listed in the photo above - All quite reasonable I thought, and though it doesn't state the cost to have your curry tikka'd on the menu, mine came to £7.30. 

I ordered a starter as I was in the mood for king prawns, so decided to go for the butterfly king prawn. Basically its just king prawns in bread crumbs. We also ordered some onion bhajis to go along side them. 

 Onion bhajis
King prawn butterfly. 

Both dishes came out in good time, both served with side salad. The onion bhajis looked great and well cooked yet still quite succulent, a good balance i'd say. My king prawn butterfly was incredibly dry and I was sad to see only one prawn in the entire dish. I had to use a bit of yoghurt to moisten it up to make it more desirable. 

Once we were done they took our plates away and brought out our main dishes in a small cart. When they were presented on our table we were struck by how exciting and well prepared it all looked.

 My friends biriyani vegetable curry looked lovely! The biriyani rice especially was bursting with flavour when I tried it! 
 Lemon rice - VERY lemony, no subtleness here! Not light touch of lemon like you might expect.
A lamb tikka vindaloo executed perfectly!

My lamb tikka vindaloo appeared in great form. It was a deep brown/red with green herbs on top. 
On my plate my vindaloo still looked as exciting, though I did notice that the curry was a little dry. I could have done with some extra sauce to soak in to the rice. Otherwise it was near perfection. They nailed the flavour perfectly with a bold smoky vindaloo taste. 
The lamb was the star of the show for me, there was so much lamb in the curry, which is something I find gets scrimp on with most lamb curries. So I was very pleased to see that!  The lamb was succulent and had lovely texture to it, it worked so well. It was easily one of the best vindaloos I have had in a long time. 
The vindaloo spice hardly blew me away but still had a decent enough kick to it, so I was happy enough. In fact, this curry reminded me very much of the ones I had at the old Redfort Gardens 5 years ago!

My lamb tikka vindaloo with rice.

My friends lemon rice was incredibly bright which made it look very exciting. The rice did look incredibly lemony, which my friend later confirmed was the case. This might not be for everyone as when you think lemon rice you tend to think a hint of lemon, but this dish had a very bold flavour indeed, so watch out! 

The tandoori mixed grill looked fantastic, it came with everything you would expect and the portions were very generous. It had bold colours and very large portions of meat. You could tell by looking at it that they had nailed it. My friend gave it the thumbs up!

We also ordered a biriyani which came with a vegetable curry as a side. I didn't get to try the curry itself but the biriyani rice itself was bursting with flavour, colour and texture, it was excellent. It seemed to go down very quickly too so I presume that makes it a real success! 

Once we had finished we were offered a hot towel. Sadly I didn't get a chance to take a picture as they were opened and handed to us - which was a good service mind. They were not your average microwaves wet wipe, though they did come in similar packaging. These were more like disposable flannels, which is obviously preferred to a wet wipe and certainly needed after that large spicy meal! 


We got some Kaz's chocolates with our bill, which came to roughly what we expected. The place is well priced and they let us split the bill in to cash and cards. 

We were offered a complimentary shot of spirits at the end of our meal which we sadly had to decline as we were all driving. This was a great touch and something many places do not seem to do now days! 

Conclusion

Kaz's did a fantastic job tonight and really impressed us all. 
Their papadums come with a wide range of side sauces, each excellently prepared and with generous portions. 
The vindaloo was one of the best I have had in a long while though it did come out a little dry. The butterfly king prawns were less inspiring and also came out very dry.
The service was very friendly and nothing with too much trouble for them. I particularly liked the complimentary shot of spirits at the end of our meal - something I would like to see in more places!
I felt like I was missing out on experiencing Kaz's iconic atmosphere as we arrived at 19:00 before the evening had a chance to get too dark, so sadly we didn't get to see the neon lights do their work. The place still looked good despite this even though there was no massive structural change to the restaurant. I also didn't see any changes for disabled access or toilets.
Prices were about average and they had a decent selection of dishes which should be enough for most people. I would have liked to see a better selection of draft beer. 

If I lived locally I think this would be my day to day go to place for curry, without a doubt, though if I wanted something a bit more traditional there are rivals in the area which Kaz's simply couldn't compete with.
Especially since I dine with a friend who uses a wheelchair who quite simply wouldnt be able to use the restaurant.

8/10 - A fantastic all round text book Indian restaurant. Highly recommended! 

With two such fantastic Indian restaurants close by, The Rang Mohol, Kaz's, and Zara only down the road, I figuratively dying of jealousy and green with envy at the people of Sawston. I can safely say that if I lived here, then I would be about 16 stone! The Sawston area for me has to be one of the hot spots for Indian food in Cambridgeshire. Its just such a shame I live so far away! I cannot wait to come back!

Thanks for reading! 

Tables can be booked at (http://www.kazindianrestaurant.co.uk) or call them on 01223 837025. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Cinnamon take away.



As part of my tour of the take away only Indian restaurants in Cambridgeshire I decided to hit the newly opened Cinnamon. Located on the High Street in Chesterton, the place has impressed a lot of people and seems to have established itself as a well respected take away already.

The place is well known for its token promotional offer which is a set menu for two people. As you can see from the photo below the set menu for two costs just under £20 and comes with a generous selection of dishes. Delivery is FREE too so you will not fall victim to sneaky hidden charges. 


We are given the opportunity to chose from a wide selection of dishes from the curry menu and a choice between rice or naan. We decided to order a lamb dopaiza and chicken vindaloo for our curry and two portions of rice. The rest is all compulsory but does offer some popular dishes that most people should be happy with. 

We ordered through Just Eat, though you can order directly through their website (http://www.cinnamoncambridge.co.uk). I was heading from Ely to stay at my girlfriends house in Cambridge so decided to make the delivery to her house for 18:30. By the time I arrived at her house at 18:15 the food had just arrived. This could be considered good or bad as it shows they are very fast at delivery but if nobody was there to receive it then I might have missed out on my food!

What a haul! 

As you can see from the picture we managed to get a good haul! Everything was delivered in sturdy plastic containers. The papadums were put in a brown bag which sadly meant they were broken by the time they reached our kitchen. 


The papadums came with mint sauce and an onion salad. There was also an extra bag of salad provided. The papadums were a little broken, but no big deal. The mint sauce tasted quite nice though was a little watery. I would have liked to have seen some mango chutney with this but since it was thrown in as part of a deal its hardly an issue. There are options to buy mango chutney, lime pickle, more onion salad, red sauce and spicy mint sauce on the menu for an extra 60p charge.


We were given 4 onion bhajis as part of our deal. They tasted great and were very crunchy, as they should be! My only criticism would be that they are a little dry. I recommend dipping them in the mint sauce, it works well!


The Bombay Aloo was a great addition to the deal. So often I find that my curry lacks enough potatoes so I sometimes have to order something like this, or Saag Aloo, to bulk it out. So this is a very welcome addition for me. The potatoes are prepared well and taste great. I found this more than enough to bulk out our curry with more potatoes and still have some left over for the morning.


The chicken tikka served us well. Nothing which would blow you away but for the money and quantity of food you are getting as part of the deal it does the trick. It had good flavour, texture and was incredibly succulent. I don't think anybody will be disappointed here.

The lamb dopaiza was the real star of the show tonight. The lamb was so succulent and well cooked. It was bursting with flavour and had marvellous texture to it. I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves lamb! 

My chicken vindaloo had a good kick to it. It ended up giving me the hiccups which is a good sign! The chicken was decent and had a textbook smokey flavour to it! 

Both rices were incredibly generous portions and was a fine addition to a curry! It was cooked well and not too fluffy and not too dry. We had loads left over from our meal and again, like the Bombay potatoes, left us with loads in the morning. 

Once we had finished we were both satisfied with our meals. We had some curry, Bombay potatoes, rice and chicken tikka left over for a MONSTER breakfast in the morning (if you are in to that kinda thing!). 

Conclusion: For £20 we were incredibly impressed with the quality, selection and diversity of the food available. Everything was done well and not only was it good value but it was also a punctual delivery. From my one experience of Cinnamon so far they are certainly looking like one of the better Indian restaurant take away's in Cambridge.

We still have more places to try however with Golden Spice Take Away next on our list! 

Please check out my other take away reviews: Royal Spice and Kismet

If there is anywhere you think deserves to be investigated please let me know on The Cambridge Curry Crew Facebook group.

Thanks for reading!



Monday, August 3, 2015

Back to Lalbagh - Bourn


Me and my buddy Jim decided to head back to the multi award winning restaurant and local legend - The Lalbagh.
Located in the small village in Bourn, this place was the host to one of our previous Cambridge Curry Crew events last year. 


Upon entering we noticed that there was a disabled parking spot at the front of the restaurant and a large car park at the back. There is a ramp for wheel chair users which needs to be requested upon entering. 


Once we got in we were warmly greeted by the staff and shown to our seat. We were struck by the large amount of certificates and awards The Lalbagh had on its walls. It was certainly reassuring to see and suits the reputation of the establishment.  
The place is incredibly modern and has a string of stylish ornaments located across the restaurant. It had a dark feel to the place which is dimly lit up by blue neon lights, giving it a very stylish yet cosy feel. 
Some might prefer a more light and open feel restaurant but this worked for us.


The bar is one of the more striking sights of the restaurant. It is equipped with a Cobra, Kingfisher and Mongoose beer taps, which is a VERY impressive selection of Indian beers...if I do say so myself. Not to mention a fine selection of wine and spirits at the back. The bar is lit up with blue neon lights like the rest of the restaurant and has a running fountain screen at the back which is a really nice touch. 


We ordered some papadums while we decided on what we wanted. We were given a blue neon lamp for our table to add to the other blue lights in the restaurant. Its was really needed too as it does get quite dark in here.


The side sauces for the papadums were the usual four you would come to expect - Mango chutney, onion salad, lime pickle and yoghurt. Each presented excellently in fine white china pots with little spoons. The portions were stingy but the quality was mostly very decent. The mango chutney, lime pickle and onion salad were all very nice and well prepared, though I felt the yoghurt was quite runny. I was a little disappointed as there was nowhere near enough here to last the three papadums we ordered, so keep that in mind if you plan to order a lot of papadums on your visit here. 


Looking at the menu there was some fantastic stuff to choose from. Certainly more than your average Indian restaurant. 



If you are new to Indian food and want to explore a little more of what it has to offer, or perhaps you are a regular curry goer but want to try something different, then The Lalbagh would be a great place to come. The selection is very diverse and impressive. 

  There was a very generous and plentiful selection of starters and a great range of fish, lamb and biryani dishes. There was also some of the more text book curries like vindaloo and tikka masalas. 

Prices varied considering what you wanted. Some of the Lalbagh specials were tipping £12-14 each and one of the pints of the beers mentioned earlier was over £4, so it can be quite steep! The chicken vindaloo however was a more reasonable at £6.95 which is very competitive - It was very hit and miss. 

So just keep an eye on what you are ordering. 


After having their famous sea bass dish the last time I was here I decided to go for a good old chicken tikka vindaloo. My friend went for the king prawn korma. 
Both dishes came out quite soon after ordering and were presented excellently, they both looked fantastic. Both dishes were rich and full of colour.
One thing I noticed was that the quality of the king prawns and chicken in both dishes were sensational! You can really tell by the bold taste and texture of the meat which jumped out the fiery taste of the sauce that they used quality ingredients. The chicken had been tikka'd well and the prawns were big and juicy, just how they should be!

Sadly the vindaloo, though quite tasty, did lack a spicy kick to it, which was disappointing. 


The onion rice was perfect. It was colourful and vibrant, the texture was fluffy and it was full of flavour. The portions were average/generous and it was presented very well. It made an ideal side dish for my vindaloo. 


Our garlic naan was delicious and had a very pleasant and succulent texture to it. Neither of us were disappointed as it was full of garlicky flavour. It was a little on the small side but it was clearly well prepared and fresh...which is what you want from a naan.


The plot twist! 

My friend ordered chips to go with his king prawn korma. Unusual I know, but hey, we like what we like! That being said, I ended up being very grateful to him for ordering chips because you may not believe me when I tell you this but...these were the nicest chips I have EVER had! 

Honestly! 

The last place I thought I would ever have such thick, crispy and succulent chips with an extremely fluffy centre would be at an Indian restaurant. I really couldn't stop stealing them! They were unbelievable! 

I would really like to hear from anyone else who has eaten chips at The Lalbagh before because I still find it hard to believe. I have eaten at many traditional English fish and chips places all over the country but never have I come across any chips like this. They were the stars of the show. Which for me just goes to show that The Lalbagh is a place of delicacy, no matter what they are preparing. 


Once we were both done they took our plates away. They asked us if we wanted dessert but we declined. They offered us a menu to look at anyway so I did see a good selection of appetising desserts on the menu in case you are wondering.

The gave us some hot towels to freshen up with. They were just the "microwave in a bag" ones but since the vindaloo was not too hot, it didn't really matter. 


We were given a slice of orange and some chocolates with our bill. This was a nice touch. 

The bill came to roughly what we expected. I think the place is probably a little higher than average but not by much. You are paying for quality here anyway so nobody will feel hard done by after dining here. A good price for great food!

Conclusion:

The Lalbagh offers a fantastic selection of Indian food and Indian beer which should be able to satisfy anyone's pallet. 
They offer so many dimensions to Indian food other than the usual curry and grill that we are all used too at our local tandoori. Their selection should be enough to impress even the most experienced Indian food lover and its a great place to come if you are a newbie and want to experience new Indian cuisine. 

Their sea bass is sensational from my previous visit, but today has taught me that they also do a mean vindaloo too (if a little mild)...Heck, even their chips blew me away tonight (I still cant get over that!). 

The staff are very friendly and cannot do enough for you, you can see why they have won a ton of awards here as their customer service is hard to beat. 

The place is elegant, modern and very stylish. All the food is presented well and there are lots of interesting quirks to appreciate while dining here - the most striking being their stunning waterfall bar. 

They have very good parking here and disabled access, though I am sad to see they have no disabled toilet. 

Please make sure to check them on The Lalbagh Facebook page and on Twitter

8/10.

Thanks for reading!