Raan

O2 Dome

It’s my aim to test out all the eateries at the Dome (sorry – I really can’t get used to that O2 thing) though I confess some of them appeal rather more than others.

I guess, like all the restaurants in there, whether it’s heaving with punters or totally empty depends on whether there’s anything on at the arena. We bowled up a few nights ago and the place was like a ghost town – very weird. Some of the restaurants were closed – it just wasn’t worth their opening for whoever’s going to the cinema (BTW does anyone know how the cinema’s doing as an entity? I went once to find out what the big screen was like, then went back to the lovely Picturehouse; I also notice that the Odeon is still getting quite full, judging from the carpark) though maybe things will change when the Ice Disco gets going (heaven help us – and yes, of COURSE I’m going to try it out…)

Raan has pride of place in what has to be the best corner of the whole “Entertainment Avenue” – right next to the entrance. Of course this means it’s crazy on concert nights, but the night we went – well – let’s say we got to choose where we sat. It’s a posh version of North Indian food and I can’t see that it’s a chain, which surprises me. I checked out the usual suspects for ownership, and did quite a search for a website – if there is one, they’re not admitting to it. But that’s actually fantastic – a single one-off at the Dome? Good for them.

Downstairs is the bar area – all white and cool with uncomfortable-looking colourful Plexiglass bar stools and plastic rattan chairs. We were there to eat, which, I’m happy to say, is upstairs. I suspect on show-nights, that downstairs area gets a bit, ahem, sticky. It’s all white-painted upstairs too with modern fittings and little circular alcoves surrounded by bead curtains made out of what looks like strings of ball-bearings. We sat right in the middle by the glass balcony overlooking the bar (it also overlooks the top of some downstairs columns, which I suspect, it never occurred to anyone that people could actually see…)

Despite its clean white air, it doesn’t have that horrid clatter-y soulless feel that many modern restaurants have – in their clamour to avoid chintz and carpet, they tend to throw out cosiness too. Raan just about manages to be cool and comfy too, though they must have got those chairs in a job-lot from a Walt Disney cartoon.

But onto the food. The night we went, the staff were falling over themselves to be helpful – presumably just glad of something to do. From the open kitchen the chefs waved at us – always a good sign, IMHO.

It’s not a huge menu – but I approve of that – I’d far rather a restaurant eschews Jack-of-all-tradery in favour of being master of a handful of dishes.

It’s tandoori-heavy, of course, but the fare is, I’m pretty sure, quite westernised. Tandoori lamb and some stuffed potatoes were very tasty – but I preferred the salmon cooked in the same way. The vegetable accompaniments were nicely executed. I was a bit surprised to see they don’t do rice at all. Is this a feature of Northern Indian cookery? I just don’t know it well enough to be able to tell. The naans supplied instead were fine, but it all became quite bulky with the rest of the potato-heavy carbohydrates on offer – I could have enjoyed a little light rice.

The wine, served in GIGANTIC glasses, is ok – nothing to write home about but not the usual Indian restaurant tosh.

I cannot speak for a night when there’s a spectacle going on in the arena. How friendly the staff would be, whether the chefs would wave at you from the kitchen and how good the food would be under pressure is not something I can tell. But as locals we don’t have to ever find out – we can always choose to go on a quiet night and get treated like royalty. Oh – and if you’re still looking for somewhere to hold a Christmas party , there’s a little curved private dining room around the corner – might be worth an enquiry.

The Phantom says check it out…


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