Address: 167 – 169 Wardour Street, London, W1F 8WR
Telephone: 020 7287 4243
I don’t know about you, but I have mixed feelings about the rise in those mega-deal, Buy-One-Get-One-Free meal vouchers. You know, the ones you get from colleagues and family members in those round-robin emails and inevitably print out illicitly using the printers at work. In some ways they’re amazing and have helped me dine out through many of my perennial, erm, cash-flow problems but I do have nagging doubts about the quality of food you get on a voucher meal, I massively resent going anywhere that does a deal unless I have a print-out in my sweaty palms and then there is still that unshakeable shame, the sheer indignity of presenting your voucher to the waitress. Do you just leave it on the table so that they will see it without you having to admit to being a pleb or cheeks flushed, eyes downcast, a coy smile dancing on your lips, do you draw it to their attention? It’s a bloody mine-field.
It’s a conundrum I had to face yet again when I wandered to SoHo with half of my Pub Quiz team, armed with a 2-4-1 Tasting Menu voucher for Imlis. This meant we could have a set-menu of Indian tapas or Thali if you prefer, with starters, main and dessert: all for £15 a head. It is sleek, smart almost nondescript and lacking in the charming and exotic decor that coloured all of my childhood experiences – as a young Brummie girl in the 80s- of going for dinner down the Curry House. The service was exemplary: attentive, friendly and quiet.
The food was presented and explained perfectly. We started with Coriander Vardi, Aloo Tikki Ragda and for the first time ever I tried Papdi Chaat: a despicably tasty combination of whole wheat crisps, bean sprouts, vermicelli, sweet yoghurt and mint chutney, which absolutely knocked my socks off. Next the bowls of curry arrived – not much we thought, but it was truly a case of our eyes being bigger than our bellies – there was Tiger Prawn Masala, Chicken Haryali, Rajasthani Lamb and oodles of sundries like rice, chapatis and daal. The curries were pretty good, although the daal was pretty watery and not the silky creamy dish that we had hoped for. We JUST about had room for a scoop of ice cream each and it turns out fig and ginger is a tounge-tingling combination. Utterly divine.
All of this for £15 a head – in relaxed surroundings, with smiley service – is really rather incredible. However, a little of me hankers for the curry houses of my youth: the fishtanks, faraway music and terrible wallpaper. The food too lacked drama. It needed more spice, more sizzle, more colour and life.