All reader reviews by Nadeem Saeed

Chennai Dosa (339 High St North)

Even for a dyed in the wool carnivore like me, it's a gem of a place. Couldn't decide what to have as I'm a relative newcomer to South Indian food, so I went for a tiffin deal. I would struggle to get a sandwich and a coffee in the West End for the same price. But being the East End, it is so ludicrously cheap, they might as well give it away. I had a dosa with masala potatoes, a vadai, rice mixed with lentils and spices, plus sambar, 2 chutneys and a raitha on the side. Had a drink and a small semolina pudding chucked in for the price.

In contrast to other South Indian places I've eaten at, the service here was pretty attentive. The waiter came around and offered me another free refill of the delicious sambar when he saw mine was coming to an end. I finished off with a masala chai, which with the fresh ground spices in it, had to be one of the best cups of chai I've had in a long while. Great find, although strictly vegetarian food on offer. A few doors down they have a sister restaurant for more carnivorous cravings.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 10

Mirch Masala (Tooting)

Great food. Unbelievably bad service. Our waiter, sorry waiters, really struggled to speak English, so you won't get much help from them if you are not familiar with their dishes. There was a queue of people on the pavement outside. A good sign we thought. A sign claiming it was one of the top 50 restaurants in Great Britain helped lure us in, too.

The Poppadoms tasted nice with cumin seeds in them, but their texture was cardboardy. The raitha and chilli sauce on the side hit the spot. Starters of potato tikki and spicy (mogo) cassava chips were spot on. We were simply amazed when our curries turned up on their own getting cold while we waited forever for the rice. We got some nan bread on the side, it was nice and fluffy but the garlic nan didn't even have the slightest hint of garlic. I had kerela ghosth which was fabulous. The bitter melon gourd contrasted nicely with the juicy, but lean lamb. My friend had off the bone chicken jalfrezi. Everything seemed an effort from the waiters. We had to ask for a fork and knife to eat our starters with (they kept saying they were coming, but they took a while), let alone another set for our mains. Thought we'd have to eat with the curry serving spoons at one point !

We ordered desert, but the waiter forgot our order a few mins later when I asked how long it would be. That was it. We paid up and left. Our bill was on a receipt with so much grease/ghee/oil smeared on it so we could barely read it. They barely got a tip from us and that was being generous. Generally superb food, but a terrible experience. We won't be back. I've been to the Norbury branch of Mirch Masala and had top notch food before, but with much, much better service. I'll go there in future.

Thursday, December 22, 2005
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 8 | Service 1 | Atmosphere 2 | Value for money 7

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