Restaurant: The Garden of India
Address: 5 Fawcett Street
Prices: Main Dish & Rice £6-8
This is not 3am binge food, this is good standard, good value food brought to your door that you don’t need to feel too guilty about. Old favourites teamed with original and exclusive dishes, (for example the interestingly named Murghi Cham Cham), the Garden of India offers something for everyone, whether you are a curry novice or connoisseur.
Some Indian takeaways suffer from overfilling their menus with dozens of different dishes to choose from, which tend to arrive on your plate as overcooked meat in some murky brown sludge masquerading under the name of ‘bhuna’ or ‘dupiaza’. The Garden does not suffer from this but still provides plenty of choice for the discerning diner. Having partaken in a 15 man, 25 dish, £90 mega-order a few weeks back, I can report that each and every dish, be it the sweet and delicate Lamb Korma or the punchy Chilli Chicken Masala, has its own distinctive flavour and spice combos that is so often missing from British Indian cooking.
Enough meaningless fluff I hear you shout, will it do what a takeaway is supposed to do: big dishes, quick service and good prices? In a word, yes, although the astonishingly sullen man taking your order on the end of the phone does not project the best of images of the takeaway. I would also advise you to confirm the price of your meal with the aforementioned astonishingly sullen man, as they sometimes decide the prices on the menu (available from the pool table room next to Vanbrugh stalls, and probably most other colleges) have risen 10%, sometimes they don’t. There is little else to complain about though, delivery is always prompt – from 30 to 45 minutes – and if a large order is made and you ask nicely, some free poppadoms and chutneys may be thrown in for free. However, if it’s a sit down meal you’re after The Garden can provide it, albeit in a rather uninteresting and slightly hostile environment. But it’s the food that really counts right?
The dishes themselves never disappoint, especially the Chef’s specials, which at £6.10 a pop (prawns cost a shade more), served with rice, make excellent value, and will leave your biscuit-grabbing hand out of a job for many hours. There’s no shortage of side orders and hors d’oeuvres to compliment your choice of main dish. Opt for Aloo Palak Pakora for deep fried veggie heaven (incidentally, I’m told by vegetarian mates that the selection of veggie dishes is top notch) or, for something more meaty and aromatic try a Sheek kebab or Chicken Chatt. Rice is always well cooked and never sticky, and the naan breads are also excellent for mopping up any extra saucy bits.
I haven’t seen the cardinal sin of all takeaways – the disgusting orangey oily residue lurking in the bottom of the aluminium container – on a Garden dish yet so you can persuade yourself they are reasonabbly healthy which is always a welcome bonus. My personal recommendation would be the Garlic Chilli Chicken – although this requires post meal de-fumigation. It’s worth it for the distinctive and refined flavours.
You can forgive sulky staff and occasionally creative pricing if the food is top draw. Luckily for the Garden, this is pretty much what it is. I am no curry connoisseur, I don’t know if the balance of coriander to cardamom is bang on; all I know is the Garden of India guarantees you a damn good curry.