Our fourth venture down Victoria Street again thrust us out of our comfort zone and into an otherwise unlikely eatery, this time Daawat. As if to quell any potential confusion, the restaurant’s sign stated clearly “Daawat, The Celebration, It’s Indian”. However, as soon as we had stepped inside, it seemed that any further clarification was somewhat redundant. The massive Indian flag hanging off the wall, the TV screen loudly playing a Bollywood classic and the little Indian boy doing some colouring in the corner were just a few of the give-aways that Daawat was in fact, Indian. All that remained to be determined was whether or not the meal would actually prove to be the celebration that we had been promised!
Forced to deviate from our preferred spring roll and little soup starters we accepted the waitress’s recommendation of vegetable pakora and some spicy fried fish to get the night’s ‘celebration’ underway. Disappointingly though, things got off to something of a slow start with a thirty minute wait before the food arrived. We only just managed to survive the delay with the assistance of some well-timed, free pappadams as well as the enthralling musical romance that was playing out above our heads. Often though a long wait can be quickly forgotten in the wake of the food’s eventual arrival, this was not one of those occasions. Despite the long wait the veg pakora was delivered to us at room temperature and without any semblance of taste. To compound our disappointment the fried spicy fish was not only equally bland but also cased in the same stodgy pakora batter as the vegetables. The entrée’s only saving grace was a refreshing mint yoghurt sauce that accompanied both dishes.
Keen to put the pakora debacle behind us we set our sights on main course, which if nothing else had to be an improvement on the starters. We settled on a selection of curries; dal makhani, chicken 65 (spicy chicken) and Aloo Gobi (potato and cauliflower) as well as some naan and rice. Sadly, we were met with another prolonged wait that deemed our 9:15 session of ‘The Campaign’ void. The pain of missing the movie was slightly dulled by the fact we were already into our second Bollywood feature. Once the food did arrive we were relieved to find that for the most part it was a significant step up, with the Aloo Gobi in particular finally producing something worth celebrating! The garlic naan was also tasty without being too overpowering. Unfortunately though, the chicken 65 was once again cased in that same pakora batter that seemed to be following us around and the dal was bland and unexciting.
As we made our way out and took one last look back at the sign that only a couple of hours ago represented promise and hope, it was clear that one of those statements was misleading. Daawat while definitely being Indian proved to be far from a celebration!
Value 3.5/5 ($84)
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (starring Shah Rukh Kahn, his hips don’t lie!) 4.5/5