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Curry house Mirch Masala 213 Upper Tooting Road, London, SW17 7TG
Jul 6th, 2009 by Olivier

Curry house Mirch Masala
213 Upper Tooting Road
London SW17 7TG

Mirch Masala

Mirch Masala

Mirch Masala

Inside

Inside

In the past we have been several times to Mirch Masala and found their butter chicken to be very good, but we have not been for about 2 years – and in the meantime discovered Al Mirage next door. Have we been right to have switched to Al Mirage? To be short, yes. Our experience this time did not start well. When we received our cuttlery, they were covered by some curry/grease on one end. How it escaped to the waiter is a wonder. Actually not really since we had a dozy waiter. He was quite fun to watch but definitely on another planet.

It was not busy at the time we went, so we were a bit disappointed to be left sitting so long. We ordered a Karahi butter chicken (£7), a Karahi Lamb Tikka Masala (£7) and a fried chilli/onion mix (£1) as an accompaniment. As drinks we had a sweet lassi and a mango lassi. Unfortunately they were not cold, being even on the warm side. At Mirch Masala they provide some some poppadoms and an onion/cucumber salad when you get the table.

The butter chicken dish was fine – good flavours, and reasonably tender bits of chicken. It did not live up to our memories from previous visits though, seeming distinctly ordinary. The lamb tikka masala wasn’t good. Here the food seemed excessively salty and – unusually for a curry – the meat was quite tough and chewy. Certainly not the tender, well marinated chunks of lamb one usually gets in a curry house. The naan bread was also disappointing, quite dry and stiff, as though it had sat for 15 minutes before being brought to us. The fried chilli accompaniment was incredibly hot. Quite possibly the hottest chilli I had in my life. We managed to eat only one of them and we felt unwell the whole day with a burnt feeling in the stomach.

Sweet lassi and mango lassi

Sweet lassi and mango lassi

Karahi Lamb Tikka Masala

Karahi Lamb Tikka Masala

Karahi butter chicken

Karahi butter chicken

 Fried chilli/onion mix

Fried chilli/onion mix

Overview of the table

Overview of the table

The two currys in the plate

The two currys in the plate

See the chilli!

See the chilli!

Serious weapon!

Serious weapon!

Not great naan

Not great naan

Cost and conclusion: it was £18.30 in all. The food was alright but not great. At £7 per curry it is overpriced considering its average quality and the canteen like decor. The good butter curry lost its buttery flavour and became greasy. We were surprised the prices went up that way because they stayed stable at Al Mirage next door (about £1 to £2 less per curry). If you are looking for a curry restaurant in Tooting, Al Mirage is a better choice with cheaper and much better food.

Mirch Masala on Urbanspoon

Pakistani restaurant Al Mirage 215 Upper Tooting Road, Tooting, London
May 30th, 2009 by Olivier

Pakistani restaurant Al Mirage
215 Upper Tooting Road, Tooting
London SW17 7TG

UK

Reviewed on Saturday 30 May 2009

Restaurant Al Mirage

Restaurant Al Mirage

After the not so great experience at Kolam we decided to go again to Al Mirage to get fantastic curry. It has been over two months since we ate there (click here for the 25 March 2009 review). What we like at Al Mirage is the modern, clean style. You have room between tables, something that cannot be said for most restaurants we’ve tried in this location. The staff are friendly and efficient too.

We (two people) were quite hungry so we saw big, maybe a little too big… As a starter we ordered the Special Mixed Grill made of four grilled chops, four seekh kebabs, four pieces of chicken tikka and one grilled fish (£12) and for main courses we chose the Balti chicken tikka massala (£6) and the Balti chicken korma (£5.50). As drink we had two sweet Lassi (£1.40 each). They provided some papadum ( thin crispy wafer) and a basic salad while we were waiting for the first course.

Papadum

Papadum

Salad and papadum

Salad and papadum

Spicy sauce

Spicy sauce

Sweet lassi

Sweet lassi

The Special Mixed Grill was excellent! They have the grill within the dining area behind the counter so you can see the lamb, seekh kebabs being chargrilled. It does generate some smoke but the ventilation is quite good, you can feel the wind sometimes. The pieces of chicken tikka were great, with some bits burnt giving a barbecue taste. The seekh kebabs were really good, with a nice spicy flavour and a little crispy on the outside. The grilled chops were good too but too tiny to really enjoy them. We were already starting to get full when the grilled fish included in this starter arrived. We forgot about it! The fish was excellent too. Firm enough inside and the coating was crispy and quite spicy. For just two people this starter can easily be the unique meal.

The Special Mixed Grill

The Special Mixed Grill

In the plate

In the plate

Detailled view of the chicken tikka, seekh kebab and grilled chop

Detailled view of the chicken tikka, seekh kebab and grilled chop

Grilled fish

Grilled fish

We were still eating the chops, seekh kebabs and chicken tikka pieces when the fish arrived...

We were still eating the chops, seekh kebabs and chicken tikka pieces when the fish arrived...

Excellent fish

Excellent fish

We were still eating the fish when the two currys and the butter naans arrived. The naans were hot, crispy on the outside and covered by butter. The currys were really good. The balti chicken korma was extremely creamy, with a delicious smooth and lightly spicy taste. The balti chicken tikka massala was also creamy but less so than the korma and also more spicy. We can clearly tell the chicken pieces were grilled before being put in the sauce. By the way there is plenty of sauce in the two meals for good use of the naans. The sweet lassi drink, which tasted a little like yoghurt, was good to fight against the hot spices.

Balti chicken korma

Balti chicken korma

Balti chicken tikka massala

Balti chicken tikka massala

The naan bread and curry

The naan bread and curry

Seekh kebab and fish from the starter mixed with the curry

Seekh kebab and fish from the starter mixed with the curry

Overview of the table

Overview of the table

Cost and conclusion: this is the best place for eating curry in London! Definitely a  better (less diner-like) surrounding and also better food too compared to the curry houses in the area and we did try almost all of them in that street! My minor complaint is about the timing between first course and main course. All the dishes arrived a little too quickly, which was ok but we would have wanted more time between them. Possibly the cook thought we were four as this starter was for four people but he could have looked at us or the waiter could have told him to wait a little. Still, all that for just a little over £26 is a very good value for money! We will be back!

Al Mirage on Urbanspoon

Kolam Indian Restaurant in Tooting, London
May 28th, 2009 by Olivier

Kolam Restaurant
60 Upper Tooting Road, Tooting
London SW17 7PB

Kolam restaurant

Reviewed on Thursday 28 May 2009

Kolam Indian restaurant

Kolam Indian restaurant

We had intended to go to to Al Mirage since it has been a long time since we were there. On the way, we noticed Kolam and its promotion of £15 for two for two starters, two currys, two bread or rice, and a bottle of wine. Actually it is the bottle of wine that caught our attention since many restaurants in this area are Pakistani and alcohol free. So can we eat well for a little over the price of two fastfood menus?

Outside, the restaurant looks small but inside it is pretty long to the point to waitress has to walk to come near your table to check everything is all right. It is decently decorated. It does not look like an ordinary curry “diner” but more like a comfortable restaurant (with tablecoths, etc). For the starters the requirement from that £15 deal was to take a South India starter. The menu is quite extensive so the choice was in no way restricted. We chose a dosai masala and a dosai “special” masala. A dosai is a crepe stuffed with potato curry, onion and for the “special” masala it also had some chicken. It is a meal that can be eaten for breakfast too, apparently. They were both good, with crepes that were crispy on the outside. They were surprisingly spicy, and even hot. The two sauces were good too. The green one was served cold while the other one was warm. I do not know enough about Indian food to tell what they were exactly. It is a very filling meal. Seriously, after eating it we wondered how we were going to eat the main course! As main courses, we had to choose between currys and we decided on the spicy chicken vindaloo curry and a chilli chicken curry. We had a problem with them: they were both very spicy, which is fine as we are both into hot spices, but they were WAY too salty. The vindaloo was salty but could be handled. The chilli chicken was just too salty. It was more salty than spicy (and it was seriously spicy, so that tells you about the amount of salt). The two currys looked similar but had different taste in case you wonder about it looking at the photos below. The naans could not soak up the salt. They were on the heavy, dense kind of naan. They could be good if things were not that salty. The wine included in the menu was a bottle of Marcel Hubert dry red. It is of course a cheap wine that costs around £3 but it was not too bad. If you do a search for that wine you can find other restaurants charging about £10 for this same wine!

Spacious restaurant

Spacious restaurant

Marcel Hubert red wine included in the £15 menu for two.

Marcel Hubert red wine included in the £15 menu for two.

Dosai

Dosai

Dosai masala

Dosai masala

Not too bad for a cheap wine

Not too bad for a cheap wine

Inside the dosai

Inside the dosai

The sauces served with the dosai

The sauces served with the dosai

Naan and vindaloo curry

Naan and vindaloo curry

Chilli chicken curry

Chilli chicken curry

Details of the vindaloo curry

Details of the vindaloo curry

Cost and conclusion: two starters, two main courses and a bottle of wine for £15. Hard to beat it! Just too bad the currys were so incredibly salty because the surrounding was pleasant, the waitress very nice… Without that problem (which completely ruined the meal), it would be a good value for money and we can only think and hope it was a one time mistake. In the area, you have Al Mirage if you are into curry (2 minutes walk toward Tooting Broadway) and the Kings Head if you are looking for a pub (same way as for Al Mirage but it is closer).

Kolam on Urbanspoon

Rick’s Café 122 Mitcham Road, Tooting, London
May 17th, 2009 by Olivier

Rick’s Café
122 Mitcham Road, Tooting
London SW17 9NH

Rick’s Café

Reviewed on Sunday 17 May 2009 lunch time

Rick's Café

Rick's Café

Rick’s Café is located close to Tooting Broadway tube station, between Pizza Domino and a shoe repairs store. The first feeling is not that great but when you get inside, things are different. It has a kind of nice rustic feeling (see the big table on the photo below) but with some unfortunate mistakes like our small two people table that looks like it came from Ikea and our knives were from Ikea. The restaurant is not big, maybe around 25 seats maximum.
On the Sunday lunch menu, the wines of the week were two French wine (Château Haut du Puy Medoc 2000 – £22.50 and Henry Marionette Touraine Gamay 2007 – £18.95) and one Argentinian wine Alfredo Roca Pinot noir. We wanted the Medoc but it was out of stock so we chose the Gamay upon suggestion.
The choice for the first course is fairly large, with interesting meals like steamed razor clams in garlic and white wine (£6.50),  chicken liver parfait with gherkins, onion marmalade and toast (£6.50), roasted artichoke with red pesto (£5.50) or English asparagus, fried egg and parmesan (£6). We ordered the clams and the chicken liver.
As main course the choice is pretty interesting too, beside the traditional roast beef for Sunday lunch (including a glass of wine – £10), there are  cornish crab, jersey royal potatoes and aioli (£12.50), seared squid, grilled polenta, wild rocket and red chilli (£10.75), pan fried lemon sole, green beans and red wine dressing (£13.75), sauté veal kidneys, gratin dauphinois and grain mustard sauce (£9) per example. We decided on the lemon sole and the cornish crab.
For dessert we had a passion fruit jelly, berries and ice cream (£5.25) and a pot-au-chocolate with biscotti (£6.50).

The chicken liver parfait was good, not as good as Chez Linday in Richmond (where the toast was excellent) but as good as the County Arms in Wandsworth Common or the Tide End Cottage in Teddington and both places had good chicken liver parfait. The steamed razor clams were good (but unfortunately some sand in one of them ruined an otherwise good experience).

The crab was decent but I needed to fight with my fork and knife to get the flesh out and they did not provide the tool for crushing the shell of the crab legs. It was only after a while that I got a bowl of water with lemon so I could rinse my fingers. I have to say the service, whilst friendly, was not really attentive. The aioli was fine and the jersey royal potaoes excellent, warm and perfectly cooked.
The pan fried lemon sole with the red wine dressing was beautifully cooked, and very nicely presented too. The flesh was firm and tender, whilst remaining very moist and with a very nice flavour. I would certainly take that again. The accompanying green beans were nicely cooked – again firm, well flavoured, and not over-seasoned. The dish as a whole could perhaps have benefited from an additional side, such as dauphinois potato, but overall was very good.

The passion fruit jelly was really good, not over sweet at all, and the berries with the vanilla ice cream were a good mix. The pot au chocolat was nicely rich without being over sweet, and had a nice firm texture. Its accompanying biscotti was excellent.
 

Inside Rick's Café

Inside Rick's Café

Easy to drink Henry Marionette Touraine Gamay 2007

Easy to drink Henry Marionette Touraine Gamay 2007

Steamed razor clams in garlic and white wine

Steamed razor clams in garlic and white wine

Chicken liver parfait, gherkins, onion marmalade and toast

Chicken liver parfait, gherkins, onion marmalade and toast

Pan fried lemon sole, green beans and red wine dressing

Pan fried lemon sole, green beans and red wine dressing

Cornish crab, jersey royal potatoes and aioli

Cornish crab, jersey royal potatoes and aioli

Front view of the crab

Front view of the crab

Pot-au-chocolat with biscotti

Pot-au-chocolat with biscotti

Passion fruit jelly, berries and ice cream

Passion fruit jelly, berries and ice cream

Cost and conclusion: it was £78.69 including the “optional” 12.5% service charge added automatically to the bill. The 3 course lunch was good, same for the wine but we feel the total cost is overpriced, especially if you consider the surrounding. For the same amount, you can eat very well at the French restaurant Bellevue Rendez-vous (was Mini Mundus) next to Wandsworth Common or at Chez Lindsay in Richmond. In the same area you have Limoncello if you are into Italian food. Now, if you stick just to the Sunday’s roast beef, served with yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, root vegetables, spring green and a glass of wine it only costs £10, which is an excellent value for money.

Rick's Café on Urbanspoon

Kings Head Pub Tooting, London, SW17 7PB
May 12th, 2009 by Olivier

Kings Head Pub
84 Upper Tooting Road, Tooting
SW17 7PB London

Kings Head pub

Reviewed on Tuesday 12 May 2009

Kings Head pub

Kings Head pub

It is surprising to find the Kings Head pub and its imposing old building in a street dominated by Indian/Pakistani restaurants. It is listed on CAMRA inventory of London’s pubs heritage where they say “Designed by the prolific pub architect, W. M. Brutton, and built in 1896. An architecturally eclectic confection outside but retaining important remnants of the original building – tilework, screens, etched glass, counter and bar-back and also a large and imposing billiard room.” We have to agree it is a very nice pub, extremely spacious compared to many other pubs. The downside was the atmosphere, or the lack of it. Maybe because of its dimensions it appeared somewhat empty.

Like in any pub, the meals go from sausages to curry. For example they had fish and chips (hand-battered fish with chips, minted mushy peas, tartare sauce and a seared half lemon – £6.75), the pie of the day served with mash, seasonal vegetables and gravy (£5.95), the sausage of the day served with mash and a sticky onion gravy (£6.25), a lemon and garlic chicken skewers (two marinated chicken skewers served with rice, roasted vegetables and a low fat garlic and mint yoghurt dressing – £7.35),  a spicy roasted half chicken served with salad, chips and salsa (£7.60), moules frites served with fries and mayonnaise (£8.55) or a steak frites (grilled bavette steak with fries and béarnaise sauce, served with a watercress garnish – £7.15) .
We ordered the fish and chips and the steak frites with two pints of Budvar. The steak was well cooked and tender and the béarnaise sauce was good. The fries could have been warmer and crispier.

The counter

The counter

Nice decoration

Nice decoration

A pint of Budvar beer

A pint of Budvar beer

Steak frites

Steak frites

Fish and chips

Fish and chips

The two meals

The two meals

Cost and conclusion: £20.82 for two pub meals and two pints, it is fair. It is not a gastro pub, but the food was decent and the beer good. What else to ask from a pub as even the design was impressive? Well, probably some buzz as it is lacking some soul. Still, a good place to stop if you feel hungry in the area and are looking for a pub meal. In the same street a minute walk away toward Tooting Broadway tube station there is Al Mirage if you are into curry.

Kings Head on Urbanspoon


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