SITAARAY: NOT WORTH MAKING A SONG & DANCE ABOUT
Some times you should go with your first instincts.
Last night, I was taking my dear chum, Petra, out for her birthday and I had, being in cheapskate mode, pondered on The India Club.
However, I had been reading about Sitaaray and had seen a decent review so I thought it may be fun venue for a girly in her ever advancing years ( 40 this year for the record )
It is a sister restaurant to Chor Bizarre in Mayfair. Perhaps they should have called this one Chow Bizzare, but more of that later.
Firs of all a decent enough Martini in my favourite hotel bar in London, No1 The Aldwych. Petra was late as normal. She mumbled something about busses being late etc etc. I didn't take much notice. I just assume now that her body clock is fifteen minutes behind most normal people and leave it at that.
Then to supper.
Sitaaray takes Bollywood as its theme and the inside of the restaurant looks like Amitabh Bachan has been having a clearout. Garish is not the word. Dreadful is probably the word. TV screens flash constant images of scenes from the movies which seem all to have the same plot
Boy meets girl
Boy can't have girl
Girl's father locks girl away in a far away place
Boy hunts for girl
Boy finds girl just as she dies of consumption
Boy kills himself in grief
Everybody has a good old dance
After keeping us waiting for what seemed like the length of one of these movies, they finally took us up to a sweet little booth on the mezzanine level from which we could survey the room in all its, er, glory.
The deal here is an £18 " all you can eat" schtick based on different types of kebabs. Does it work? Not really.
First a small plate with a piece of paneer with methi, a shammi kebab made with yam and some tandoored broccoli. Petra liked the broccoli a lot. I did not. I didn't like any of it a lot. Too much chilli came through on the broccoli and the others were non descript
A towering tray arrived and we nibbled on some small, unexceptional papads and some pickles of no discernable provenance and some rather good spiced nuts before they started coming around with the kebabs. They were actually pretty good but, it just doesn't work having people arriving at your table at irregular intervals with trays and then plonking a small cube of meat on you plate. We found our selves sitting for extended periods of time staring at empty plates wondering where the next bites would come from.
After trying about six different types, we were give three small bowls which contained some rice, a makahni dhal and a straight forward chicken curry. None of them were anything that will live in the memory
They came around with more kebabs but, unfortunately they were the same ones we had already tried just looking a little more tired. So, we passed.
The idea might have legs but they just have not thought it through. There is no " wow, you get a lot for your money" factor nor are the kebabs so good when they come that any eyebrows are raised.
The desserts were of the type you could buy at Taj Stores for a lot less and they were out of rassmalai, the only one I was interested in, so we just got the bill.
We did not bother with any wine from the much publicised list chosen by Tim Atkin of The Observer. Instead we chose a pitcher of something foul from their list of cocktails all named after Indian movie stars. Can't recall what it made of but it tasted of melted Spangles with iodine. Quite horrible.
With service the bill came to £61 for two which does not seem a great deal for the West End, but when put in a £ per mouthful ration comes out as fricking expensive.
Petra, bless her, was kind and used the word 'yummy" far more than any woman her age (40 in case I had forgotten to mention it ) should. She was wrong, it was not yummy it was horrible and horribly misconcieved. It was, however, packed with a predominantly young Indian crowd whose father's had obviously failed to keep them apart, so I am sure it is going to be a huge success.
Me, I'd rather die of consumption than go there again
Now, let's all dance.