17, Columb Street SE10 9HA 020 8293 5464
Okay – so I finally made it to Gurkha’s Inn, thanks to so many of you recommending it.
I had been there on the very first day it opened, but the service (and the food) was so chaotic that I didn’t think it was fair to judge it on such a ramshackle affair. Trouble was, I wasn’t that bothered to try again, so it took some time to make it back.
But I owe all of you who recommended it a vote of thanks – it really is very good indeed. Since it was an eat-in rather than a takeaway, I didn’t stick to the Control Menu, but tried a variety of dishes, including Chef’s recommendations (I’m never really sure what that means, except that if they can’t get those right, heaven help the rest of the menu.)
It’s a much brighter place than the old Millennium used to be – that felt positively gloomy at times – but they’ve not gone for anything too outrageous in the styling – it’s more ‘classic’ than contemporary, I’d say, with giant ceiling roses and magnolia walls.
To be honest, I didn’t really notice the decor when I first walked in though – I was greeted as though I was an old friend – even though they didn’t know me. Other people who came in clearly were old friends though – and regulars to boot, judging from the handshakes and the swiftness of ordering…
One of the problems I’d had that first time was that although my party had been the only ones in the restaurant, it had taken half an hour to get even a glass of water and and a couple of Kingfishers to the table, and well over an hour to get starters. This time, even though there was a respectable number of tables filled, the service was swift and friendly. Poppadoms brought to our table without asking (which were so crispy I just had to order some more…) and drinks also brought nice and fast.
On reflection, we probably ordered too much. We ordered it all as one course and everyone dug into everything, but the portions are generous and we struggled to eat it all. The Chef’s platter of sundry meat was rather ‘colourful’ but tasted absolutely fine. The other dishes looked a lot more natural and each had very clearly defined flavours (not always a given with Indian restaurants, I’ve found.)
Something I liked a lot was the addition of a couple of cloves to the ‘plain’ boiled rice. Not enough to overpower it, but just to give it a lightly aromatic touch, and to lift it to a delicate moment of its own.
We tried several of the Chef’s specials as well as the odd dupiaza for comparison. I found one or two of the Chef’s dishes a bit on the hot side – especially the Aloo Tama, which didn’t come with any of those little ‘chilli’ symbols that warn you not to put too much in your mouth at once. Ok. So I was a greedy Phantom and that first bite was a bit of a surprise, but once I’d dipped my tricorned head in a bucket of ice, I gobbled up the rest of it quite happily.
The dupiaza, which did come with a little chilli sign, tasted perfectly mild. Presumably anything would have done after that Aloo Tama…
Side dishes were utterly lovely. I particularly liked the Brinjal Aloo – but then I’m a sucker for anything with aubergines in it. The Bombay version was good too.
This is a nice, local curry house that I’ll be returning to. I’ll also test out the takeaway at some point and report back.
The website’s simple but says what it needs to. No online booking or ordering – but I don’t do that sort of thing anyway. Just talk to someone…