The options for dinner on the Isle of Man become quite limited on a Sunday. All the places that get regularly tipped are closed. It pretty much leaves you with a choice between pizza and curry. I’d spotted this place had been a finalist in the British Curry Awards. Now, I’ve come across a couple of restaurants that have also been finalists and know them to be pretty decent - places like Lasan in Birmingham, Prashad and Zouk from Bradford. But this was about to be a disappointment.
“Spicy” aubergine was anything but spicy. But it was a pleasant enough dish of aubergine and tomato cooked for a considerable time so the result was a thick, almost puree like, texture. It came with a chapatti.
The lack of spice and seasoning was going to be a recurring theme here. Not just the lack of heat from chilli but there was none of the zing you might have hoped for from ginger, coriander or the other regularly used south asian spices. And it was an issue that was about to present itself in both of my partner’s dishes. She tends to become a vegetarian in asian places where she doesn’t know the cooking, avoiding the common curry house problem of lamb insufficiently cooked and being overly chewy. So, a starter of stuffed green pepper. The stuffing was a mix of mainly root veg but it was boring – the sort of cheap meal you’d find in a cookbook called “1001 ways with pepper”. She hoped a thali would buck things up but it didn’t really. Presentation and the content was good. Three dishes –a daal, a potato/spinach and a third featuring the same root veg from the starter. There was good rice and a chapatti, but again almost no spicing or seasoning. If Vesta had made a frozen thali in the 1970s, then this would have been it.
My own main was better. Chicken tikka covered in a tomato curry sauce and topped with slightly softened slices of garlic. Although there was some heat in there, it was nothing like the menu warning that the dish was “quite hot” – in fact I think ti was the only dish on the menu to come with any heat warning. Perhaps it’s just that their regular customers have different expectations from their curry houses.
So, a very unthrilling curry house meal. Beats me how they get to be an award finalist let alone win “Best in the North West” in 2011.