I think RR must be waiting for this blog entry. 🙂
In a previous trip to London, I had an Indian dinner delivered from Sipson Tandoori. RR. whose late father founded the Sipson restaurant, found my posting on the internet. We got in touch and exchanged a few emails and she invited me to try the other restaurant also started by her father, the Grapes Tandoori. I did go to the Grapes Tandoori on the first night I was in London.
Getting from my hotel to the Grapes Tandoori, although not really far, still requires a a taxi ride. I really hate taking taxis in London. They have this minicab services which does not use meters and charges arbitrary. Well, for the short taxi ride of 5km, it costs me 14 Pounds. Sigh … the disadvantage for being a visible foreigner …
Locating Grapes Tandoori was easy. It was right on the rather busy Uxbridge Rd. The taxi driver did bring me to the wrong Grapes, the Grapes Pub which obviously did not resemble anything like an Indian restaurant.
I got in early and there were only one other customer. Man, I must say that the service was attentive to say the least. I have never seen so many waiters in a restaurant, very unlike in Canada where a restaurant of this size would perhaps have 3-4 people max. Kind of unnerving, if you ask me. Because there were just two customers, the waiters were milling around my table and I do feel so … watched.
Started with a drink. Wanted a cocktail but I guess either it’s not big in England or they don’t have it in Indian restaurants. Anyone can tell me why?
Ordered the Sherry and Port which costs 2.50 GBP. I don’t really know what it is and when I asked the waiter about it, he told me he does not know either because he had never tried it before. I asked for recommendation but he could not either. Oh well, I just went ahead and ordered it.
The waiters came by with a platter of condiments. I was really curious what it was but I guess I ran into some communication problem. 🙂 So, what I found out was that they were not spicy and one of them is onions. They do tastes good though.
I also ordered a piece of Papadam. This is the best Papadam I had ever tasted. It is a big piece, thin and salty and crunchy. I had this dipped in the sauces they provided. A really nice starter. Costs 50p for this piece.
For the main meal, I ordered the item that was asterixed and highlighted on the menu. Must be their special of special. It’s called the Murgh Massala which I pronounced it as mur-guh massala, is that right? Nice name. I get a choice of chicken or minced lamb. I chose the chicken version.
What impressed me was that it came served on top of a really hot metal plate. A good way to keep the dish constantly warm. Never seen food served this way before — I like it. Well, I had itchy hands and wanted to see how hot is hot … trust me, don’t touch it … it is really HOT!
The Murgh Massala consists of chicken breast and some hard boiled eggs served in dry curry. The gravy was simply great, not spicy hot and wish it were but still, it was great. The serving too was large. Just by the looks of it, I know already that this is awesome with either rice or naan. This one costs 9 GBP I think.
So, should I take it with Naan or with Rice? I ordered both. Heck, since I come all the way here already, I might as well order everything even though it was too much food for me. Oh … the garlic naan … it was fabulous and simply looked good. Why can’t I find Naan like these in Vancouver? It came warm, soft and fluffy. I had to quickly eat this before it got cold. This is so good that I could just eat this alone without anything else.
Pilau Rice. It was nicely done and very flavourful. A bit of fried onions served on top. I like these kind of rice where the grains were separated and not clumpy like the way Chinese normally do it. Perfect with the Murgh Massala.
I couldn’t do desserts after all these although I wish I could. To close off, they served me hot towels — whew! very HOT towels.
Total bill … 17.05 GBP and they threw in a free Grapes Tandoori chocolate! I left a tip of 2 GBP. BTW, do people normally leave tips in London Restaurants?
By the time I left, the restaurant was packed. Gosh, I have never seen so many whites in one place enjoying Indian dinners. Many people told me that the national dish of Great Britain is … Chicken Tikka Massala. I know what they mean now. 🙂 I noticed almost all my neighboring tables ordered Chicken Tikka Massala. Had Britain turned into a nation of curry eaters?
RR, I want you to know that it was an awesome meal. I will definitely come again to try your other dishes the next time I am in London.
You know what my big problem was … the transport back to the hotel. The waiters could not help me call for a taxi which I find it kind of weird. They told me that if they call it will take 45 minutes, minimum to get one and that it was a busy night. So, I took a 5 minutes walk to the taxi call centre and got one in 3 minutes. Sigh … this time the taxi charged me 10 GBP back to the hotel and and an extra 2 GBP if he drops me in front of the hotel. So, 24 GBP for taxi, 17 GBP for the dinner and 2 GBP for tips.
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Ooh, I want Indian food now!
Does anyone know what Pilau (as in Pilau rice) means? I am just wondering because in Hawaiian (or maybe Hawai’i Creole) it means dirty so I think it’s funny.
What did you think of the eggs? It seems kind of unusual to me.
43 GBP ….. or C$97. Expensive night, btu sadly typical in London.
I recall eating a very ordinary Indian dinner in central London with my wife once. A meal that cost no more than C$30 in Vancouver cost 35 GBP (or around C$87 at that time). What really got me was they charged 2 GBP for each 500ml bottled water we ordered (without telling us in advance that “water” meant bottled water). London is an expensive place to be …..
Pilau (or pilaf) rice traces its origins to the central west Asia region along the Silk Road corridor between China, Tibet, India, (current-day) Tajikistan, Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan. Generally it’s a dish consisting of rice or cracked wheat, browned in oil, then cooked in a seasoned broth. Depending on the local tastes and available ingredients the rice/broth mix may cooked with a variety of meats and vegetables.
An excellent book for rice lovers (that explains in detail rice pilau/pilaf) that every foodie should have in his/her cookbook collection is “Seductions of Rice” by Torontonian authors Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, who also authored “Hot Sour Salty Sweet” and the James Beard Award-winning book “Flatbreads & Flavours”.
When I was in London, I tried Indian food near Queensbay area. They were delish! Wonder if the masala you ordered taste the same as Chicken Tikka Masala (Indian food, made in UK and became famous among indians!) :p
Hi Ben! Iâ€™m glad you enjoyed your meal at my fatherâ€™s restaurant. I canâ€™t believe it cost you Â£24 to travel to and from Hayes, when the areaâ€™s right outside Heathrowâ€™s doorstep! You really have been cheated! 😛 I feel that people who regularly come to London should get use to the public transport system â€“ at least theyâ€™d be sure that the prices are fixed. Yeah, the papadams are the best â€“ I used to sneak into the kitchen and pinch pieces as a child (which wasnâ€™t long ago)! Iâ€™ve taken a look at the menu on the Grapes Tandoori website; I think the asterix besides the â€œMurgh Massalaâ€ means that itâ€™s a new dish on the Chefâ€™s Recommendations. Referring to your comment on the number of white people in Indian restaurants; of course thereâ€™d be many white/non-asian people there – Indian people eat their Indian food at home, not in restaurants. Also, Indian chefs never cook Indian food at homeâ€¦ they each have their wife to do that for them! And yeah, itâ€™s true, Chicken Tikka Massalas, Onion Bhajis etc are dishes invented in the UK â€“ my mum never makes them at home as theyâ€™re not traditional Indian food. I hope youâ€™d excuse the waitersâ€™ unhelpfulness â€“ like I mentioned in my emails, the quality of service have gone down since my fatherâ€™s passing, but itâ€™s still good. Most workers of Indian restaurants in Britain are normally Muslims (and Bengalis), whom, as everyone knows, doesnâ€™t drink alcohol â€“ thatâ€™s the only reason I can give for their lack of knowledge about the drink you had ordered. Anyway, your photograph of Grapeâ€™s faÃ§ade is fantastic; youâ€™re a really talented photographer. Canâ€™t wait for your blog about my fatherâ€™s other restaurant, Sipson Tandoori.
Thanks for the tip (yes, we do give tips here in London)!
PS â€“ Didnâ€™t your mother ever told you never to touch anything hot! Ouch! 🙂
LotusRapper: Thanks! I didn’t realize it was the same thing as pilaf.
Rukya: How interesting about tikka masala being invented in Britain! (I went and looked at the Wikipedia entry also.)
What’s fascinating about the pilau/pilaf dish is that it’s like a study in linguistics and anthropology combined. The different variations of the dish, and the word, are:
Just Wiki it 🙂
RobynT & LotusRapper:
I’ve checked out the wikipedia entry on Pilau Rice (and Tikka Masala)! I’ve asked my mum how we (me and my family) pronounce “pilau” and only just found out that Pilau is actually the same as what I call “foolab”. My mum told me that I pronounce it wrong – I suppose to pronounce it “poolab”. Oh well, I pronounce a lot of things wrong, but that’s what I always known it as since I pronounced it that way all my life and will continue to do so.
Hi RobynT: Having hard boiled eggs in curry sounds weird eh? I actually liked it. They were cut into wedges.
Hi LotusRapper: If you don’t mind me asking, what do you do for a living? You seem to know so much about food and I see you participating actively in so many food/recipe/ restaurants websites … see your name everywhere. I learn so much from you.
Good heavens! Â£24 GBP for travel? I hope your company reimburses you for cab fare like mine does.