eatlovenoodles's Qype reviews
103-107 Waterloo Road, London SE1 8UL
eatlovenoodles wrote on 22 January 2010
The weeks leading up to Christmas are a time for catching up with old friends but when you get to my age, it’s hard to do two big nights out in a row. So after a Friday night that ended with dinner at Rasa Sayang, the last thing I wanted to do was to have a big Saturday. Mercifully, my mates El Greco, Nuf and The Ref weren’t too keen on a big night either. So it was with great relief that after a beer or two, we left the Fire Station for a bite to eat. It was cold and we were lazy so we just crossed the Waterloo Road to try Bangalore Express.
It’d be fair to say that this is a trendy casual Indian gaff and Nuf had it spot on with his comment that it was Wagamama-esque. Modern art festooned the walls although it just about stayed on the right side of not being pretentious. Thinking about it more, it’s also similar in concept to Masala Zone. We were seated at the end of a long communal table although there were also non-communal tables and double-decker booths.
It wasn’t easy to order as the menu is frankly all over the shop – I can’t even begin to describe how confusing and disjointed it looks – it’s probably easier to check it out on their website. To confuse matters more, many of the dishes had verbose descriptions and don’t get me started about the inappropriate use of the word tapas in a non-Spanish context.
Once we got over the menu confusion, we ordered some poppadoms (£2.50) and the following dishes from their ‘tapas’ and ‘tandoori’ sections to start.
Chicken tikka masala cocktail sausages
Golden fried tiger prawns with chilli jam
These all cost £4.50 each but were largely disappointing. The sausages were particularly poor, I couldn’t tell that they were made of chicken and I’m not sure what made them tikka. The Ref remarked they could have come from Iceland but I’m pretty sure that even Kerry Katrona wouldn’t have served these up. The three rather dinky lamb chops were tough and overcooked to the point of oblivion.
The prawns would have been OK but they were encased in a thick, soggy, and claggy batter with the chilli jam only partially redeeming this dish. The pick of the bunch were the onion bhajis but something would be badly wrong if they ballsed these up. And thankfully, the poppadoms were decent too.
Ignoring the gimmicky post-modern Indian spin on fish & chips, burgers and calzone, we plumped for more traditional fare for our mains. Nuf went for a large dosa (made with chilli hot batter) filled with tandoori chicken, grilled peppers and masala mash. The rest of us used the menu grid to create the following ‘big plates of curry & rice’:
Chicken – jalfrezi – chickpeas & spinach – pilau rice Chicken – dhansak – sweet potato mash – pilau rice Chicken – tikka masala – potato & sesame salad ¬– pilau rice
All our mains cost £8.50 and thankfully they were much better than the starters although that wouldn’t be too hard. Nuf’s order was the best of the bunch – a well made giant dosa with a tasty generous filling although I thought the accompanying dahl was too salty.
Our big plates had a fresh clean taste although we all agreed that they it lacked zing (including my supposedly hot jalfrezi) with El Greco describing the spicing as ‘tourist strength’. Other minor complaints include the chicken being a bit dry, not enough curry sauce and over-salty spinach. On the plus side the naan breads (£2.50 each) were really excellent, in particular the garlic naan.
For desserts, Nuf and The Ref ordered the Bangalore express sundae (£4.25) which they thought was too sweet. The total bill was pretty reasonable at £93 for four including 12.5% service – although it should be noted we didn’t order many drinks. Service was unobtrusive although they were sometimes a bit tardy in bringing out stuff.
Although the food was a mixed bag, it was another cracking night out as the guys all got in touch with their inner foodie. Throughout the night, they chipped in with insightful comments and whilst some were tongue in cheek, most of them were on the money.
For example, Nuf suggested that I blog about Sri Lankan cuisine as they use noodles in the form of string hoppers. Whilst El Greco despaired at the poor standard of meze served by chains like Tas and how they just don’t measure up to proper Greek meze.
However the biggest revelation of the evening was The Ref. Considering his favourite eateries include KFC and Kebab King, he really embraced the esprit de blog. All night, he came out with brilliant one-liners whilst doling out imaginary yellow cards to the waiters for any sign of poor service. Not content with giving Giles Coren a run for his money, The Ref even came up with some ideas for future blog features. Unbelievable !
Verdict: Maddeningly inconsistent – it’s hard to believe the same kitchen that knocked out the excellent dosa and the naan were responsible for the poor tapas and the lamb chops. I wouldn’t hurry back here but I might pop in for a dosa if I happened to be out and about in the Waterloo area.
Other Stuff: There’s a branch of Bangalore Express on Gracechurch St in the City and I wouldn’t surprised if it develops into a mini-chain.