I am currently in London on a layover where last night I decided to dine "locally" (Staying in the Covent Garden area). Having recently read Howler's glowing description of Moti Mahal, and having just come from a stay in Bangalore, I was jonesing for a good Indian meal. (Note:no disrespect to Howler here. Quite the contrary. I have always found his posts to be among the most informative, informed, and well-written on the CH Boards)
So, I walked over to Moti Mahal hoping I'd be able to get a table without a res on a Saturday night. When I walked in, the first thing I noticed was that the place was about 3/4 empty. Obviously, they were able to accomodate me. Other than that, I thought the surroundings, decor, etc. were generally very pleasant. Service was pleasant and overall very good.
As a starter, I ordered a dish which was comprised of 2 ground lamb patties with a yoghurt filling. (My apologies, can not remember the name.) I had just had this dish at a retaurant in Bangalore a few days before, and thought the Moti Mahal version was "just okay". Perhaps it's the way this dish is typically done, but I found the prevalence of ground black pepper to be somehwhat overwhelming(again, my recollection of the same dish the previous week was that the flavors were more well balanced. Please note also that I really enjoy highly spiced/hot foods.) Again, overall I found the dish to be "just O.K."
For the main course, based on Howler's recommendation I ordered the Murgh Makhani, with Baingan Bartha as a side. Also ordered a Garlic Naan and some rice. Once again,it was a sense of deja-vu as I had the exact feelings and thoughts I had moments before. I mentally compared the Murgh to 2 versions I had eaten the week before, and IMHO, there was no comparison. The dish just seemed bland. None of the flavors really stood out for me. In addition, the Naan I ordered was delivered as a Roti (with no explanation). I will say however that the Bartha (one of my favorites) was outstanding. Had 2 glasses of wine with dinner and a bottle of sparkling water. Total bill (with 12.5% mandatory service charge added) was 49.50 GBP. Felt pricy for the experience.
Anyway, obviously Howler is a lot more expert in Indian fare than am I, but I can't help thinking that perhaps some of his reaction may have been due to the circumstances and personal treatment received whilst dining there. Overall, I found the experience OK, but for the price/value ratio, certainly wouldn't rush back. So, Howler, what am I missing?