It is the Biennial Weekend Long Weekend Trip in the company of Marg, Sister-in-law – Marion and the ever faithful Graeme. On the third third night it had to be Curry-Heute, finally. There was a choice of venue, Google had revealed some, however Brook St alone boasts four outlets which Hector would have considered had this part of town been visited sooner.
The Karai Lounge (10-16 Brookdale Place, Chester, CH1 3DY) is adjacent to Chester’s Curry Street and had seduced us by being close to a Micro-brewery Outlet and us being in possession of a Voucher guaranteeing Free Poppadoms and Dips. Such Entrées should always be free anyway.
The table was booked for 19.10, we were the only Diners, but then I realised the Buffet Diners were upstairs. Perhaps a dozen people were taking advantage of the £9.95 offer. This was a substantial venue, but quiet. It was a Sunday night.
The Drinks order was taken, a solitary Bier, and Water in various guises. The Poppadoms were brought, five in all. There was sufficient Pickle and Dips to satisfy our needs. This is when the Lone Diner always wins out, the same quantity of Dips is normally provided for one as is for four.
The Hector choice would have to be one from Balti, Karai or Methi. The Lamb Methi was slightly more expensive than the other two dishes, I had formed a theory as to why. In order to avoid the dreaded Green mush I would order the Lamb Methi, Medium with a kick. I asked the Waiter if the Lamb accompanying the Methi was Tender or Tikka – Tikka was the reply. I was about to change the order when he offered it with the Tender Lamb. Marg ordered Lamb Methi too, the proper way. Tarka Daal, there I have written it, Hector ordered his first ever Lentil Side. This is the lasting effect of the experience of Chana Daal in Europe this Summer. Marg went for one Chapatti, Hector the Garlic and Coriander Nan.
Our Co-Diners have opposite views of Curry. Graeme is always happy to experiment – Machi Gulfam – an interesting sounding Fish dish was his choice. Marion felt brave in ordering the Butter Chicken. This meant a Special Pilau Rice was ordered along with a Peshwari Nan for the other side of the table.
The Chef must have wondered what was up as he was no doubt concentrating on ensuring the Buffet dishes were topped up. Now how many Pots do mainstream Curry Houses operate? Two is the figure that is normally quoted, all dishes being variants. This could well have been the case here as Marion’s Curry was Yellow in the Korma style, the remaining Curry dishes could easily have had the Masala taken from the same pot.
The Lamb Methi – with a Kick – was distinguishable from Marg’s normal version by having a single Green Chilli on top. The Masala looked very rich and clearly Onion based. Had more Tomatoes been added this would easily have passed for a Rogan Josh. Sadly the Methi was not that evident, the anticipated strong Herbal flavour did not emerge. I found the Lamb to be quite tough, Marg disagreed. She had expected the dish to be Drier than presented – who is this Lady? She enjoyed The Kick in her dish, I was permitted to finish what Marg couldn’t, had we been given the correct dishes? I will admit to polishing off the Green Chilli as I completed my meal and so the palate was in full Sprinkler Mode as I sampled the extra Lamb from Marg’s plate. The sharing of the Chapatti and the excellent Garlic and Coriander Nan worked well.. The Nan was a decent size and was Fresh and Puffy.
The Tarka Daal
I spend much of my Curry Life avoiding Soup. I had in effect ordered a plate of Lentil Soup. There was the presence of the Lentils obviously, a texture I enjoy, however it did not really add much to the overall eating experience – too bland. Who will be the first in the UK to match the wonder of what was served in the Czech Republic?
Across the table Marion was finding her Butter Chicken to be Spicier than her norm. The Chicken was of the Tikka variety. The Masala appeared to Hector to be the classic Korma Soup. Marion tried not to describe it as – Coconutty – as no such word exists, but there, it does now! The Masala was Smooth and Sweet, I did not try it, not after a supposed Methi.
Graeme polished off his Fish served in a Masala very similar to that accompanying the Methi dishes. Very flavoursome and well cooked was his verdict. The Peshwari Nan also impressed, I could not help but notice the quantity of Rice left over, no need to order a Rice portion per person at this venue.
There was ladies present
Three Desserts from the Frozen Pre-Packed Universal Menu were ordered along with two Coffees. WTF? This was eating into VDT!
£72.00. The Bill of course had been inflated with nefarious Sundry items.
The Calling Card was presented and received with considerable indifference. This venue clearly has a Marketing Budget as it promotes itself in the Guide to Chester given to all Hotel Residents. The overall experience was fine, but if I was going back to Chester I would be checking out the smaller venues around the corner.