Address: 531 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby NSW
Tel: (02) 9958 8544
Opening Hours: Dinner 7 nights a week from 5.00pm
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I was approached by Groupon with a voucher to use towards reviewing one of the restaurants offering a deal on it’s site.
I chose a deal for a six-person “All-You-Can-Eat Indian Feast with Wine” in Willoughby, which came to $69.00 (excellent value, I thought).
The main reason that I chose this deal was due to its location in the North Shore, which made it easy for me to visit.
The restaurant is conveniently located on Willoughby Road, one of the main roads in the area. It was pretty easy to find and, as we went after 6.00pm, roadside parking was free.
From the outside the restaurant looks like a typical Indian restaurant. Upon entering, the decor is quite dated, with some framed sari-like material hanging on the walls, and stereotypical beaded cushions. I did, however, like the wooden framed mirror with window “flaps” and the two wooden elephant tusks hanging on the wall, which were beautiful and probably should have been given more prominence.
When I tried to book the restaurant a week earlier, I found that there was no way to get through to them via phone, unless it was after 5.00pm when they open for dinner. This seems like a sure-fire way to lose business as, if I didn’t have a voucher, I would have just called another restaurant instead.
I ended up making a reservation via their website. When I did get a call back, the person on the phone was friendly and polite.
At the restaurant there were only two other tables with two people seated at each one. My parents, brother, friend, MC & I were greeted by a waiter who seemed not to care too much whether we were there or not. I told him that we had a reservation and showed him my Groupon voucher and he waved us over to a table on the side.
The table had stools around it which were against the wall on one side, with the beaded cushions propped up against the wall. When my parents, who were seated on the other side of the table, asked for seats with back support, the waiter told them that they couldn’t swap the seats as they “would need the chairs if other customers came in.” I thought this was ridiculous as it was clear that the restaurant was not busy and it was unlikely that anyone else would come in that night. No one else did come in that night while we were there. My parents ended up sitting on the side with the cushions and leaning against the wall.
We were offered a choice of red or white wine, included in the deal. My parents chose red and MC and I chose white. The red wine came from an unopened bottle while the white was from an opened one and tasted a little vinegary. We ordered soft drinks for my brother and friend, at our own cost.
I asked how the “all-you-can eat” worked and the waiter informed us that we would get pappadums first then an entree then mains. He told us that rice and naans were not included, and that we could select up to 12 serves of the dishes in the banquet menu (there were only 6 choices available).
I thought this sounded odd as I probably wouldn’t have purchased a deal that didn’t include rice and naans, so I checked the Groupon website and found that it said “all dishes are accompanied with a bed of rice and naan or roti.” I also noted that “all-you-can’eat” does not mean “all-you-can-eat-to-a-maximum-of-12-serves”.
I ended up showing the waiter the webpage and he agreed that naans and rice should be included. He did not agree that it was all you can eat and said the deal stated “up to x value” next to it and this equated to 12 serves. I told him that I did not agree with that argument as other deals I have purchased have said “up to x value” but this means that you are getting a deal worth x for a lower price. Anyway, we agreed to accept this.
Note: I also found later that the deal said we could choose from butter chicken, rogan josh lamb and beef korma, spicy vindaloo dishes with a choice of meat, prawns marinated in a sweet chilli and garlic sauce or coconut fish fillets, or a selection of vegetarian dishes. The menu we were given to choose from did not have as much variety.
The meal started off with some pappadums -only 5 despite the fact that there were 6 of us. They were a little stale as well and had lost some of their crunch. To improve, they should make the pappadums fresh and serve them generously- especially as they barely cost anything.
Zoomed in photo of a pappadum so you can (sort of) see the cumin seeds
Next we decided on the samosas. They came out on a bed of lettuce and the presentation could have done with a little more colour (perhaps some carrot, slices of cucumber and tomato wedges?). They were however, a good size, the pasty was nice and the filling, quite tasty. They were accompanied by a mint raita which was a beautiful green colour. I would have preferred the raita to be colder and more chilled as it is a dairy product, but that is a minor suggestion. Overall the samosas were very enjoyable.
Samosas, 2 for $6.90
The rice (2 plates) and naan (1 basket) were served (no roti), and we were pleased with the amount of each serving. The rice was soft and warm and the naans were delicious and garlicky. We later ordered one more serving of rice (for the bro).
Rice, $2.00 per serve
Naan- garlic $2.50 each and plain $2.00 each
For mains we were given a choice of butter chicken, beef korma, lamb rogan josh, garlic scallops, vegetable korma and one other veggie dish which I can’t recall the name of.
To start off we ordered one of each dish to try them out. When they came out, we found that they were quite small portions of each dish, and some had a lot of gravy but little meat. Some of the dishes took a while to come out and the waiter told us they only had three burners operating in the kitchen, which is ridiculous for a restaurant- we have four at home!
The butter chicken was delicious and we ended up ordering 4 serves of it all up. My brother is a HUUUGE butter chicken fan and ate about 3 serves himself. He noticed that the third and fourth serves were a darker colour than the first and second serves, and that these darker coloured butter chicken dishes were more flavoursome. We all agreed however that the butter chicken was very good, generally.
Butter Chicken, $16.90
Next was beef korma, It was cooked in a mild sauce which was creamy and rich, as Indian food should be. The beef was soft and tender. We ordered 2 serves of this
Beef Korma, $16.90
The lamb rogan josh was quite spicy and contained some capsicum (which I really like in a curry). I struggled to eat much of it as it was very hot, but my parents really enjoyed it.
Lamb Rogan Josh, $16.90
The scallops. The sauce in this dish had a nice garlicky flavour, but was less creamy than the other dishes. It contained scallops and mushroom. Unfortunately the scallops were overcooked as they were hard and chewy. This made them difficult to eat, but if cooked properly this would have been a nice dish.
The vegetable korma was delicious. Creamy and tasty and with good-sized vegetables, it was a nice accompaniment to the meat dishes and had plenty of gravy.
Vegetable Korma, $13.90
Finally, the other vegetable dish was a dry dish, with no gravy, However, it contained a good amount of spices and the addition of some fresh herbs and tomato.
Vegetable dish, approx $12.90-$13.90
Overall, the food was quite tasty and enjoyable. Although the waiter was a little rude and not very accommodating at first, he later became friendlier and more helpful. We left there feeling satisfied with the food and content with the service despite the issues we had originally encountered.
The restaurant could do with a slick of fresh paint to update the interior, perhaps some customer service training for the staff (the issue with the chairs was one I was particularly unhappy about), and a better answering machine/reservations system.
Food wise, they should make the pappadums fresh to order (it only takes a few seconds), work on the presentation of their entrees, and get some more burners so the food comes out faster.
Overall I would rate my experience (out of 10):
- Service- 3.5
- Food- 6.5
- Ambience- 5
- Value – 5