It was my mums birthday and in our small family we always go out for dinner, I asked my mum where she wanted to go she said the local indian restaurant, bless her she always wants the simple things but i thought i’d take her and the family out for something a little more upmarket and try Darbaar,
Located near Liverpool St station, Darbaar is a Indian restaurant that has recently won the best newcomer at the British curry awards 2016. The venue feels like it’s part of that corporate banking world and the seems like it is definitely aimed for that market.
Arriving on a Monday night, we found ourselves the only diners seated in the spacious eating area with a view into the open kitchen. The decor is modern and has a upmarket feel. They even have a fancy futuristic lavatory with more buttons that my car, worth checking out.
There were a lot of options on the menu, from the al la carte to the different set menus, after some decisioning making the 4 of us managed to figure out what to order. We are a family that doesn’t eat much and my parents are very simple people that are not too fussy when it comes to food.
HARYALI DATE & SAMOSA CHAAT (V) £5.00
The best thing we ate on the night was this dish. I loved the freshness of the ingredients and flavours of mint with the sweetness of the dates, there’s a different taste experience with each bite, the texture of the samosa, the pomegranate and the aniseed. One of the chaats i have had.
AMRITSARI SPICED CALAMARI FRITTERS £6.50
These felt a bit too chewy and didn’t feel like they were cooked well,
TANDOORI GOBI ADRAKI WITH CORIANDER CHUTNEY (V) £9.00
Yeah look at that picture..4 pieces of cauliflower…with some spices and they charging £9, so you think these better rock my world… no, they didn’t, they where as about as standard as a naan, i felt my dad just looking at me think what the hell is this
ABDUL’S PLATTER OF ASSORTED GRILLS & KEBABS (FOR 2) £28.00
This platter came with a mix of – TANDOORI SALMON, LAMB SHEEKH, CHICKEN TIKKA and PANNER. The chicken – NO taste what so ever, definitely not marinated in any spices might as well have just some chicken and suck in under a grill flame then serve. Lamb Sheekh kebab, theres were decent, very thick, not too dry, but it needed more spice that what was presented. The Panner.. well i couldn’t really taste anything other than the raw milky cheese undertone. The salon was the only thing that had a strong sense of flavour and spice.
PUNJABI SPICED KENTISH LAMB CHOPS £28.00
The presentation was impressive and the accompanying extras like the saag sauce where a nice touch. However, at a cost of £9 per chop I was expecting something thick, juicy, flavoursome and melt in your mouth. With the first bite i was filled with disappointment. The lamb was overcooked, medium well, so it was too dry, which means the natural flavours of the lamb were not existent. There was very little taste of spice from the actually lamb.
KASHMIRI LAMB LEG ROGAN JOSH £20.00
I was hoping for a really kick ass curry, but again let down with this dish. I know it’s a tomato based curry but it was over powered with a strong tomato taste, which really and a strong bitter acidic aftertaste, whilst at the same time being very salty. No spice, no flavour. Just awful.
BIRYANI HYDERABADI SPICED DARBAAR SPECIAL KID GOAT BIRYANI £18.00
This was my dad’s dish and as biryani go this was just okay. I found it to light and fluffy for my liking and like with most of the mains just fell short of having enough taste and that special something. There wasn’t enough meat in this dish either.
Service was an interesting one. When I arrived I was told by the woman at the door that no one at my party had arrived, but when i called my brother he said he was already seated. Our waiter, a man with a very strong Italian accent was happy Chappy and seemed to be singing to himself a lot! It was hard for my parents to understand what he was saying at times. He also began clearing our table without asking and while we were still eating. I also made arrangements for my mum to get the standard happy birthday treat at the end, which took too long for it to happen. We ended up just sitting waiting trying to get the attention of service staff to move things on.
I ordered a range of items hoping to sample and experience a range of different cooking skills from the food, however I was very disappointed with almost everything I ate (apart from the chaat)
With prices like the ones found here I was expecting a standard similar to ones of Trishna or Gymkhana and I was using these places as a benchmark. Darbaar fell far from achieving the same culinary standards set by similar and comparable venues.
If you work in banking and wear a suit, maybe you will like it, i looked around and noticed that the people eating there were all in suits and over 40. I work in media and wear trainers to work – maybe I like a different vibe, but really didn’t enjoy it much.
The food is definitely catered for the corporate environment, light food with minimal taste. The kind where you can go for a corporate lunch and come back to your desk without feeling like you need a nap. I really was expecting more, but the food here was some of the poorest indian food I have had. Would definitely NOT recommend.
Also, my mum and dad whose opinion of indian food i trust share my views, they weren’t happy with the food, but did enjoy the surprise cake at the end.
Almost forgot, the total bill came to just under £140, with no drinks, which comes to £35pp. Not really worth it in my opinion.
The prices of some of the dishes borderlines on the almost ridiculous. For example, £28 for lamb chops, i’m expecting a much better quality cut of lamb, i know it’s not lamb season, but it was average at best. The same goes for the grill platter, it’s just makes me angry when a place like this thinks it can get away with charging these prices and serve up mediocre food. I’d take the food from lahore kebab house any day from this.
Although we finished all the food, we did so because the portion sizes were very small. Didn’t bother with dessert as the poor food put us all off. Although , the birthday cake square was good.
Unfortunately I was unable to speak with head chef Abdul, I just arrived just as he left wishing my mum a happy birthday.