On Parkmore’s restaurant strip, this Indian has a loyal following, so it was pleasantly full, even on a weekday lunch, with a mixture of business tables and social groups that included tables speaking no English. Indeed, the lunch trade blended accents of French, Zulu, Indian and English.
The greeting at the door is congenial and there was, naturally, cricket on the telly. The small interior features very traditional heavy wooden chairs and tables on tile, while mildly ornate touches include an image of the Taj Majal on the wall, plus a few images of gods against patterned wallpapers. The colour scheme is a slightly ruddy flesh colour, not unlike a light tandoori hue. Indian tunes softly play, drowned out by boisterous conversation and the honking of taxi horns from the street.
Straight out of the seventies, the table’s serviettes are fanned in the wine glasses; while service is keenly overseen by the Indian manager, plus, curiously, there is a bell atop each table with a sign that says: “push button to call server”. I could not bring myself to test this – though there was no need, as my waiter was, if anything, over-attentive.
On arrival, some cumin seed poppadom with a spicy chutney and coriander paste is placed on the table. The menu explains that this is a tandoori restaurant. The wine list heavily sponsored by corporates but well-priced and described. Along with a starter platter, my order included a Peshawari naan, which is made with fruits and nuts, but this one curiously only contained nuts. Excellent texture though and a big portion at R12.95. The starter was served on the traditional oval silver platters with that traditionally Indian desultory salad, containing: very good yellow chicken, lamb kebab that was lacking in depth, red tandoori chicken that was sublime, with a melting texture. Again, a very generous portion at R39.95.
A group of Indian women were enjoying bunny chow on the table alongside – this is not on the menu but clearly available to home-sick KZN denizens. Then, for my prawn masala, that most difficult of questions: How hot would you like it? I played it safe with medium. And on arrival it was properly spicy, so the calibration is properly Indian. The prawns were overly soft, but the tomato-based sauce was excellently flavoured, with coconut textures, at R94.95. Rice, curiously, was standard white, not basmati.
Rasmalai dessert was out of stock (a more clueless junior waitress failed to inform me, but my officious senior waiter was clear: “she should have told you”). Instead I tried the kheer, basmati rice with almond, in milk – it was typical, super-sweet (R14.95); while my espresso was muddy.
For: A well-priced Indian with charming quirks
Against: Old-school look, so not for making first impressions
138 11th St, Parkmore. 011 883 4407. Lunch and dinner daily