Trafalgar Road SE10
I always wondered why this place used to be called The Standard Tandoori when its curries were best described as substandard, so when it was taken over and became the Mehak, I was very excited. That excitement lasted as long as my first meal there. It was going to take several encouraging emails and the recommendation of trusted friends to get me back in, even after the refurb.
I’d been particularly worried since during the redecoration, or at least during its early knocking-things-down stage, they continued to do takeaways. Note to self: avoid this one like the plague. I’m glad to say they did stop cooking when the dust got really bad, but all the same I wasn’t in much of a rush to get back.
But lovely Phantom regulars have been nudging me for some time to give it another go, so we decided to try again. It was a Wednesday night.
Am I the only person who thinks of Henry VIII, wenches and whole sucking pigs at the mere mention of the word banquet? Well, at the Mehak, Wednesday nights are Banquet Nights but not quite in that sense of the word. It’s basically an opportunity to stuff your face for £9.95 which frankly seemed too much of a good thing to turn down.
It’s a large menu, with dozens of dishes and alternate options and all the old favourites. I’m an old favourites kinda phantom, so the Secret Control Order was placed (as far as possible) and we sat back to enoy the atmosphere.
I guess I should mention that almost every last scrap of the old decor is gone – instead of flock wallpaper and arch-back tapestry chairs, it’s all white walls and sleek furniture. They couldn’t really get rid of the columns and mosaics outside, but they’ve painted them black in the hope that they will shrink into the back of the mind. I like it (though I confess that if a curry house is truly amazing, I’m a bit of a sucker for flock wallpaper…) It was about half full, mainly with couples and families. Later on we were to be joined by the obigatory Bunch of BlokesTM but apart from one guy who (much to his mates increasing irritation) kept popping outside to make phone calls (new girlfriend, I’d guess from the simpering I could see going on through the glass) they were model citizens.
The Puppodums (not included in the banquet deal but generally a good indication of the food to come) were fresh and crisp; their accompanying sauces (also extras) a bit on the neon-side but perfectly good to taste. But they didn’t prepare me for the main event.
Which was very good indeed. The starters were beautifully prepared – well-presented with thought and care. They tasted fabulous. The mains were generously-sized (maybe Good King Henry wouldn’t have felt so out of place after all) and again, nicely-executed, well-spiced and good-looking on the plate. There was no way we were going to finish that lot, but I gave it my best. I nearly asked for a doggy bag (BTW I’ve never done that in Britain – has anyone else? Somehow in other countries it seems fine but here I’m not sure what the reaction would be.)
The final course was a real throwback to the 1970s. Coffee with cream, which was somehow quite comforting in a childhood-celebrations kind of way, and a shot of Baileys – something I haven’t tasted since I was about 17 and probably won’t bother doing again. Still – it was a fun touch (probably more in keeping with the former decor) and I rather liked it. I liked the orange chocolate even better.
With the accompanying puppodums, sauces and (ahem) several Cobra beers, the entire bill came to £35 for two. I’ve paid more than that at the Bombay Bicycle Club for just the food.
It’s good, folks. I’m still not totally convinced by the only takeaway I’ve had from there, but the eat-in option – go for it…