Hector and Marg arrived in Köln after our three days in Belgium. Here Curry was guaranteed but not without a change in plan. Having sampled the takeaway from the Kamasutra (Weyerstrasse 114, 50676, Köln) reputedly the finest Indian restaurant in the city the plan was to return and do it justice. Alas the waitress asked if we had a booking, we did not and the chap I had spoken to on my last visit informed us that without one we would not be eating there this evening.
Our eventual venue for the evening was to be the other Reissdorf outlet: Zum Alten Brauhaus (Severin Strasse 51) just up from Chlodwigplatz. Having changed the mindset to eating German food the Maharani came into view, saved!
The Maharani (Uberierring 15, 50678, Köln) is an Indian restaurant (turban spotted) with the classic ‘British-Pakistani-Punjabi’ menu. The décor was an attempt at creating the atmosphere of what an Indian restaurant would look like, but there are no ‘Indian Restaurants’ in India!
Bollywood meets MTV
The large screen television played endless videos which at times were in sync with the music and sometimes seeming not.
The place was empty. We walked past all the Buffet trays along the bar and selected a table at the far wall. The table cloth was filthy. We certainly would not be having the Buffet advertised at €5.60 per person. The main courses (with basmati Rice) were all around the €9 to €10 mark.
Marg chose the Rogan Josh and Hector the Ghoscht Karai. The latter was said to contain Tomato, Onion, Garlic and Ginger; there was no mention of the dreaded Capsicum/Paprika. I decided an Aloo Paratha would complete the order.
A local walked in and started helping himself from the Buffet. As he was filing foil trays he was evidently takingthe food off the premises. How does a Buffet work this way – feeding the 5000?
A couple came in and set about the Buffet too. They appeared to me not to have sat down but Marg assured me they were around the corner out of sight.
Out of Sight
Indeed, out of sight is a good description of our visit to the Maharani. The delivery of the plate warmer was the only discourse with the waiter between giving the order and the arrival of the food. The waiter brought the food then disappeared. We saw more of the Buffet consumers than we saw of the staff. Meanwhile the Bollywood hits bounced along, oh how happy life is in India, it appears.
The portions were massive. The dreaded Capsicum were very much to the fore. At least they had been cut into small slivers and cooked as part of the dish. Hector feels he has been writing a lot of late about Capsicum, I actually do like them; however it is the large raw pieces added as ballast to a dish that annoys me. And so I waded in, Capsicum and all.
The Aloo Paratha was still too hot to touch as I tore off a strip and dipped it in the Masala. There was a suggestion that the Curry had been cooked by someone who knew what they were doing. The dish was typical of a well established Curry Haus tired and without imagination. The Lamb at least did look and taste like Lamb, in Germany I am convinced it is Beef sometimes.
Marg enjoyed her very red Rogan Josh. She is still happy with mainstream dishes but of course does appreciate when she gets the sublime. There was nothing about the meal that would make me wish to return. The final minutes cemented this feeling.
Die Rechnung Bitte
Could we get the bill? The waiter was on the phone. He was chatting to the other Buffet diners. We were still the only two people in the main room of the restaurant. Marg went off in search. He eventually appeared with a piece of paper but then disappeared… the situation was far from comedic. We could easily have walked out at any time without paying.
Curry on, Hector
On walking up Severinstrasse we spotted the Zum Alten Brauhaus in all its splendour, but across the road was a Curry café! The Indian Curry Basmati House would have to be visited and there was only the possibility of Friday afternoon in which to achieve this goal.