24 September 2007
11-12 Cardamom Bbuilding
Tel: 020 7357 9001
The Clipper is just chipper
SITUATED IN the culinary wonderland of Shad Thames, the Bengal Clipper knows that there is no room for complacency if it is to retain its position as the top Indian in the area, writes Jon Surtees...
Ensconced in its characterful and reserved headquarters and enjoying an almost Richard Curtis like view over the once dusty riverside cobbles, an evening at the Bengal Clipper is very unlikely to result in disappointment.
With a wide ranging menu that offers tempting selections from across India's many provinces, charismatic Rohit Kaila and his band of regimentally uniformed waiters will give you a top dining experience that is as far from a lairy Friday night vindaloo as possible.
Although we ate on an inauspicious Monday night, the atmosphere inside the restaurant was still gently buzzing. It is easy to imagine it packed to the rafters and bustling with conversation, but during our meal we enjoyed something more akin to the relaxed chat of a decent West End dining club.
Sat at the table by the window onto Butler's Wharf it was very easy to imagine some beautiful young - but defiantly wholesome - British beaux such as Andrew Lincoln and Billie Piper walking hand in hand through the twilight, ready for their big scene on Tower Bridge. Sadly for this rubbernecking reviewer there was no camera crew in sight, but the point remains.
Back inside and - once the ins and outs of the Twenty20 World Cup had been thoroughly picked over with cricket nut Mr. Kaila (keen to point out that his restaurant was a regular haunt of ex England skippers such as Nasser Hussain and Graham Gooch, and, whilst he didn't mention him by name I imagine Mike 'Fatting' Gatting was probably involved as well) - the starters were ordered.
We went for the prawn based Goan Chingri Baza (£6.95), which turned out to be akin to a very greasy deep fried prawn lollipop wrapped in tasty spinach and the superb Chicken Kati Kebab (£.4.50) which was small pieces of chicken excellently marinated in spices and stuffed inside a nostalgia inducing piece of what was basically really good eggy bread. These were accompanied by four good quality poppadoms (two regular, two spicy) accompanied by some lovely mango chutney and an excellent bottle of Rioja (£17.50).
After finishing the wine and switching to Cobra (£4.95 for a large bottle) for the main course, the main problem facing us was simply what to order, such is the dizzying array of tasty options.
I opted for the Murgh Sagrana (£13.95), which was listed a special dish, particularly for weddings. The colours on the plate were amongst the brightest I have ever seen and the taste was something akin to an incredibly rich korma - it was excellent.
Sitting across the table, my brother opted for the Butter Murgh as he had never had it before. To his credit his slightly cautious verdict was accompanied by an afterthought that he might have been better off ordering something he knew he was going to like.
Ordering two Nan breads (£2.50 each for a garlic and an ajwani) and a plate of Paneer Makhani (cottage cheese cubes in a mild sauce for £4.50) might have been slightly excessive but they did taste very good.
I have often felt that the final judge of a restaurant should be how long you can comfortably chat without being bothered after a meal. Having entered the restaurant at around 7pm, it was a great vindication of the Bengal Clipper that we comfortably left at around 10.15pm, much richer for the experience.
4 x Poppadoms £3
Goan Chingri Baza £6.95
Chicken Kati Kebab £4.50
Butter Murgh £9.50
Murgh Sagrana £13.95
2 x Nan Bread £5.00
Paneer Makhani £4.50
Rioja Tinto Crianza 2001 £17.50
2 x Cobra (660ml) £9.90
Still Water (750ml) £3.50
FOOD (1-5) 4
AMBIENCE (1-5) 4
PRICE VALUE (1-5) 3.5
DISABLED ACCESS YES
DISABLED TOILET NO
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