Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Back to The Meghna.

My friend and I decided to revisit The Meghna on Victoria Road the other night for a cheeky curry before going out for drinks. 


It had been 18 months since our last trip so I was curious to see how the place was getting on since my last visit. In my previous post I came to the conclusion that The Meghna was a decent enough establishment which served its purpose in a very competitive area in Cambridge but lacked that certain WOW factor which stopped it from getting top marks. 


We decided to drive in as the restaurant claims to have parking. Personally, I couldn't think where this parking was supposed to be picturing the restaurant in my head, so I decided to phone up to get a confirmation. The staff answered the phone quickly and politely told me that there was indeed customer parking in the back of the restaurant which was a huge relief for me.

When I arrived we found a small area behind the restaurant with some cars parked in already. There was barely enough room for my vehicle to fit in...but we eventually managed it. 

Upon arrival we struggled to get in to the restaurant. My friend is a wheelchair user so we rely on flat floor entrances or ramps. There were three entrance doors in total and the only one which didn't have a large step was locked. I went inside to ask for a ramp while my friend waited for me. Sadly we were told that they had no ramp but they would unlock the door which was accessible for the wheelchair. 


After finding a suitable door to get through, we found a table to settle on. The restaurant's interior looked stunning on the inside with beautiful prints on the windows, tasteful wall paper and warm colours throughout. The tables were incredibly well presented and modern, which fitted in well with the rest of the restaurants theme. 
I noticed lots of stunning Indian/Asian art work and sculptures around the restaurant. I was very impressed and it was quite a sight to behold and felt very cosy with lots of points of interest. 


I wanted to take lots of photographs for the sake of this blog but I didn't want to impose on them too much. There was a buddha which particularly caught my eye which over looks the back tables of the restaurant. 


At this point one of the staff members wanted to get their car out the parking area at the back which required me to move my vehicle, so I had to go out side and reverse it out the car park and put it along side the restaurant. I was asked to park next to a "No parking" sign which they claimed was safe as it was their own sign. I was really hoping they were right and weren't just saying it to get me out the way.  I really didn't want a ticket to be added to the cost of my meal!

Once I got back and reseated we were handed menus by the waiters. Like the restaurant, the waiters were also excellently presented in snappy suits. You really get a classy feel  from the people at The Meghna, even down to the cold and distant behaviour of the staff which you usually expect from pretentious high end establishments in say, London. I am not sure it was something  they chose to do on purpose but didn't bother me very much as they were efficient and still very far from rude. 

I noticed that the menu was quite competitive with beer prices being a damn sight cheaper than The Golden Curry the other night.  There was a good selection of food and almost everything you could expect from a standard Indian restaurant. Nothing jumped out as expensive and I was happy with the selection of specials on offer. Full menu here. 


We ordered some papadums while we studied the menu, only to be brought out the most radioactive looking yogurt I have ever seen. It was incredibly vivid and exciting to look at but something I usually associate with being quite artificial. Upon trying it however the yoghurt tasted fantastic and went down a treat, so I was pleasantly surprised. 
The mango chutney, onion  salad and pickle were all very well prepared, fresh and tasted great.  A fine addition to the papadums. Nothing to fault all round!

 Chicken tikka vindaloo
 King Prawn Curry
Pilau rice. 

We decided to order a king prawn curry, a chicken tikka vindaloo with some pilau rice. Each came out in good time and with average sized portions. The king prawns were juicy, succulent and burst with flavour. The masala sauce in the curry tasted fantastic too which made the dish a real pleasure to experience. My chicken tikka vindaloo was sublime, the chicken was tikkad perfectly and had a lovely thick and chewy texture to it which went down a treat. The vindaloo also had a kick to it but not enough to blow my socks off. I didn't mind this however as the dish was so delicious in its own right. 

The rice portions were of an average size but good quality. The rice was fluffy and had a good texture to it. A fine addition to my chicken vindaloo! 


Once we were finished the waiters took our plates and bowls away and gave us some time to chat and relax. We were offered the choice to buy a dessert but we politely declined. Eventually the staff brought us out a bill and chocolates presented in a leather book. Sadly there were no signs of a hot towel, though after a mild vindaloo it was not really needed. 

The bill came to an expected and reasonable price, so neither of us were left feeling hard done by. We tried to create a little small talk with the staff but they still insisted on being short on words. 

We were seen out by the waiters and we were on our way feeling full and satisfied. I was also pleased to find out that I did NOT receive a ticket for my parking. 

Conclusion: The Meghna has come a long way in the 18 months since I last visited.  The place feels so cosy, modern, warm and vibrant yet still manages to offer good value and very good food. Nothing was done badly and everything was of a fine quality. The art work and interior decorating, including the ornaments and statues were all stunning and worthy of being admired in their own right. 

The staff felt a little off and distant at times but still did a fine job of providing a good and well presented service, so there was little to complain about. 

I was frustrated at the awkward parking situation. If anyone is thinking of coming to The Meghna then I would suggest finding your own parking or using public transport. I was also disappointed in their wheelchair access facilities too. I saw no sign of a disabled toilet and the only door which was suitable for a wheelchair was locked. 

Despite this, I felt like The Meghna has won me over tonight. I could really see myself coming back here in future and now feel like I can recommend it over rival establishments in the surrounding area (Especially now Cafe Naz has closed down). A few minor tweaks to parking and access and this restaurant has nearly ticked every box.  I look forward to checking up on it again in the future.

9/10

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Cambridge Curry Crew - 23 - The Golden Curry.

After a long wait for the refurbishment and reopening of Prana, we decided to give up and hit The Golden Curry for our 23rd Curry Crew event. 

Like Prana, the place has been through a refurbishment itself a few years back (as we covered here). Being next door to Prana too meant the Golden Curry was the next best thing for our 23rd event to save any further complications in organisation.

Located on the infamous Mill Road, known for its numerous ethnic places to eat and drink, Golden Spice fits right in and has been an established member of the restaurant community in Cambridge for decades.  So naturally, it was begging to be investigated by the Cambridge Curry Crew! 


I was pleased to see we had a massive turn out tonight, with 13 people joining us for the meal. It was good to see so many new faces with people from all over the county and from all different walks of life. Not to mention seeing some familiar faces who have been coming for years now. 

Upon entering we were quickly seated to a big table along the back of the restaurant. The place still has a very spacious, clean and modern look to it and was bustling with customers (which is always a good sign). The atmosphere in here was great, even for a Saturday night. 
This did create a few problems however, a busy restaurant means a busy restaurant indeed. It took a while for the waiters to get around to taking orders throughout the night. 


Like I said above, It took a while to get our drink orders through, which gave me some time to study the menu. Several of us had to share menus as there were not enough to go around, so it took longer than it normally would to pick out what we wanted. I was glad to see one of my favourite Indian beers, Kingfisher on tap, though I was absolutely shocked (though sad to say, not surprised) at the prices of the beer, which came to £4.25 a pint. This still may be cheaper than the insulting prices they had in our Prana review a while back, and this may, or may not be, the average price we have to pay now days, but it never gets any easier to accept. 


To balance the beer prices however, I was very happy to see a good value curry on the menu, after all this is why we are here! A chicken vindaloo came to a competitive £5.25. This, with a portion of rice coming to the average price of a Burger King meal, you have to wonder why you would ever want to eat fast food again, when you can just get a curry from here!

Golden Curry had a very decent selection of different dishes on the menu, with a large House Specials menu, a Chefs Specials, Tandoori Specials and a Thali option too. Nobody was going to leave here feeling disappointed in terms of choice. 


Once we finally got our drink orders through we had to wait a little while for our papadum orders to be taken. Again, it was very busy tonight, so its up to you whether you take that as a good or bad thing. 
We ended up ordering 2 papadums each which came with a selection of three side sauces. Mango chutney, lime pickle and onion salad. I was sad to see the mint was missed but they were more than happy to bring some out at no extra charge. 


They ended up throwing together some extra free papadums for us, which is always welcome. The side sauces were all decent quality and good texture. I was happy with the portion sizes and their presentation too. The spinning metal containers make it easy to share around a big table, though they only gave us two for a very long table so we had to ask for a third just so people could reach. 


Once we were done we were in for another long wait, this one being the longest by far. It took over 2 hours from coming in to the restaurant to getting our meal. They gave us some free papadums as an apology but we politely declined as many of us were feeling full up from the last tower of papadums and just wanted our mains.


Once the food eventually came out we were mostly impressed with the presentation and look of the food. It came out in white china bowls and looked a very decent quality. I was personally was very happy with my lamb vindaloo which had some very tender lamb and a good kick to it with the spiciness. The green herbs on top gave it an exciting colour. 


The saag aloo was top notch. The portion size was quite small for a main but it tasted great. I never doubled checked the bill to see if the order was wrong and they had accidentally ordered a side instead of a main but either way it was a great addition to my curry. The potatoes were soft and the spinach was full of flavour. I might have liked to see the potatoes a little crispier on the outside but over all it was a great effort. 

 Here are some other examples of the food from friends at the table. 

Chicken tikka masala

 The rice was well presented. The colour, the texture and the flavour was all good. My mushroom rice was a generous size and was a fine addition to my meal. Though we did notice a little fumble from Golden Curry from a rice down the table. One of the rice portions had a chunk on burned rice in it, probably from where it had been cooked early on and left to wait for the other dishes to cook in the kitchen. These things happen.

Oops!

It was safe to say that everyone had enjoyed their meal and I heard little complaints other than the incident above. Ignoring the long waiting time I considered our night at the Golden Curry a success. The waiters offered us a hot towel to freshen up with after they had taken our plates, which was a welcome addition as I worked up quite a sweat after a vindaloo. 


They asked us for dessert, but by this point we were starting to get a little unsettled being sat here for nearly 3 hours, so we politely declined as we just wanted some fresh air and to stretch our legs. 

They also offered us a selection of chocolates with our bill which was just what we needed after something so savoury. The bill came to about what was expected for 13 people, no nasty surprised. They were happy for some of us to pay by card and cash. 


Conclusion:
I think it was safe to say that our night at the Golden Curry was a success. The food was decent, the atmosphere was marvelous and the refurbishment from two years ago is nearly as fresh and modern as the day it was finished. The restaurant did a great vindaloo with some very tender lamb and a real spicy kick to it. Their saag aloo was also top notch. I was very pleased to have some good chats with some of the waiters in the restaurant who seemed very proud of Golden Curry and all it has offered to Indian dining in Cambridge over the decades, which is something not often seen in local restaurants.

I would have liked to see them offer a wider selection of Indian beer on tap however (and much bloody cheaper too btw!).
Taking in to consideration that it was a busy saturday night the place still felt very slow. This is not the first comment I have heard about the Golden Curry being slow either, and now I have experienced it myself. If they are dealing with mostly pre booked tables and have been around for decades now, I would like to think they would hire the correct staff to cater for it. All this could have been forgiven if they came across even slightly sorry for the slow service.

As a restaurant the Golden Curry is a decent establishment, but like I do with many of my reviews on Indians down Mill Road, the competition is fierce, so its hard to say whether I would recommend it with so many quality establishments next door. 
Places like Curry Queen  for me are still going to trump them in terms of quality, and with Prana always doing a damn good curry, but only lacking a decent interior, now reopening, with a brand new extension and refurbishment. Not to mention with the Kohinoor doing some of the best value in town with some of the most beautiful interior I have ever seen in an Indian. I cant help but think Golden Curry is going to struggle in comparison, even though it is decent enough in itself.

So in conclusion, ignoring the competition close by, the Golden Curry being a decent Indian in itself, earns a 7/10 from me, though I cant help but feel some of my guests tonight may say I am being a little too generous. 


Please let me know what your experiences are with Golden Curry! 

PS.

I will be revisiting Prana once it finally reopens and then giving it the same scrutiny as Golden Curry tonight. Once I have finished both reviews I shall be updating my King Of Mill Road restaurant ranking to see if either two have managed to jump any of their rivals. 

Thanks for reading.