Royal Nepalese – Eat-In
2-4, Station Crescent, London, SE3 7EQ
Tel: 020 8269 0505
I confess I’ve been a drifting Phantom as far as Indian restaurants and takeways have been recently. There seems to have been a general swapping-round of chefs in the area and my erstwhile solid favourites have been sorely disappointing recently. I’ve been forced to start my search again, randomly picking new places – and testing a few I dismissed earlier.
Now, takeaway and eat-in are two different things. Look no further than the Mehak for that – their eat-in is absolutely great (possibly a fave) but the takeaways just don’t seem to cut it IMHO. So whenever I review a new place from now on, I’m going to say whether I ate in or had a takeaway.
In my latest drive to find somewhere new I decided to retry the Royal Nepalese by Westcombe Park Station (opposite the still-pretty-good-for eat-in Coriander.)
I last ate there about three years ago. It had been one of my favourites before that but suddenly seemed to go downhill and after a couple of very lacklustre meals, I moved on.
It’s been so long that they’ve actually redecorated since I last went in – a simple, almost oriental style with sundry pictures of elderly Nepalese gentlefolk, one of whom looks distincly like she’s blowing a party blower. The reception was friendly – very friendly – we were the only ones in there, perhaps a sign of the times.
We ordered a combination of the secret Phantom Control Meal and a couple of chefs recommendations, with some puppodums while we waited, which was probably a good thing – it took some time to serve us despite our being the only table in there (though not as long as the new Ghurka place – which I’ll get onto another day…) The puppodums were crisp and light, and tasted fresh, and the chutneys and pickles were tasty and at least one of them looked home-made.
As regular readers will know, the Phantom Control Meal remains a closely guarded secret, but I guess it’s hardly a surprise that it includes rice – which was fluffy and fresh – and naan, which was pleasingly heavy and bready.
The other dishes were pleasantly-spiced (neither too hot nor bland) and although some of the ‘extra ingredients’ (nothing bad – I don’t mean creepy crawlies or anything – just unexpected) felt a bit odd, they weren’t unwelcome.
I asked if they’d changed chef – it was such a difference – but the waiter/manager said it was the same guy. I can only assume that they’ve pulled their socks up, as this was a completely different experience from my last visit. Maybe it has something to do with the competition opposite. Who cares, if it means there are now two good curry places within ten metres of each other?
I haven’t had a takeaway from them yet, so I can’t recommend that section. But I have to say I was highly impressed with the eat-in experience. At a time when we’re all cutting down (yes, even me) on eating out, the last thing we want is a duff time when we do venture out. I’m not convinced I’ve found Curry Nirvana in Royal Nepalese, but it will certainly do while I’m still looking…