Everest Inn

41, Montpelier Vale, SE3. Tel. 020 8852 7872

Here in Britain we’re never really going to get ‘authentic’ curry. We just don’t have the fresh ingredients or the chefs. But that doesn’t mean that the subcontinental food we get here can’t be extremely enjoyable – and the stuff I like best is where a place has taken, perhaps, the place they come from, some general favourite all-purpose Indian dishes and sundry British interpretations and created their own blend.

Everest Inn claims to be Nepalese but there were definitely some influences from central and South India, as well as a British-y twist in the food I ate here at the weekend. And I have absolutely no problem with that.

I never visited the old restaurant in Tranquil Vale – for no real reason other than ‘so many eateries, so little time…’

It always slightly bothered me that they advertise so much though. Every local magazine and paper seems to carry an ad for the place and it seems to be a stalwart candidate for the aforesaid mags’ ‘independent reviews,’ where, of course, everything is always marvellous and the reviewer has always been so well-fed by the previous courses that they felt they couldn’t possibly stuff away a pud as well, but it was all so delicious they just had to have one anyway. I mean, – who, other than restaurant reviewers, ever manages a pudding after a curry?

But I’m digressing again. Walking across the heath, the old Laughing Buddha site seemed worth a test-out (maybe that’s why Everest Inn moved – they’re certainly more visible from further off on Montpelier Vale than tucked away on Tranquil.)

It’s all very modern and smart. It reminded me distinctly of next-door at Chapters, with all that bare brick and downlighters, and for a second I wondered if I’d gone in the right door.

Do I miss the flock wallpaper, fringed lampshades and cheesy music of old Indian restaurants? Not really – but I do like places to have a bit of individuality and this, lovely, smart and clean as it is, has nothing other than the restaurant’s name tastefully squirled in silvered perspex on the wall down the stairs to tell it apart from any other restaurant.

Having said that, it’s very comfortable and clean – right to the loos – which, of course, instills confidence in the quality of the cooking.

The menu, as with so many ‘regional’ restaurants, is a tad schizophrenic. But I already said I like that. Every so often, they point out which are the most popular dishes – handy, I guess, if you can’t decide what to have.

We had a general mixture. Onion Bhaji – rather flat but tasting okay, Lamb Bhutuwa, which was tasty and well flavoured, Malabar Prawn – again, delicately-flavoured if a bit sweet (all that coconut…) and some Brinjal Bhaji, which was absolutely divine. It was nicely done, but at the Blackheath prices they charge, it ought to be. I thought the rice portion that came with the prawns was, frankly, a bit stingy, something that always surprises me in places like this since it’s the cheapest part of the meal for them to provide, though the individual portion of rice ordered as a side dish made it up.

All this sounds as though I didn’t enjoy it and that’s absolutely not the case. I really did like it – especially the aubergine – and I will eat here again (and judging from the overheard conversations between the staff and customers, they rely a lot on repeat custom.) This is enjoyable food. But I still haven’t found my ultimate curry. The search continues….

Everest Inn, btw, is not a standalone restaurant. They have branches in Hythe, Old Kent Road and, er, Grantham.

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