Review of 'Moti Mahal'

Having been to the Robots exhibit at the Science Museum we headed towards South Kensington looking for something to eat. We have not had a lot of luck in the past with many of the chains and other lower-quality restaurants clustered here obviously targeting unwary tourists that frequent the area. Wandering around we stumbled across “Moti Mahal” in a side street that had a promising number of paying guests inside and seemed to offer good value, traditional (British) Indian food.

The small interior is old-school Indian Restaurant with a line of tables on either side and a small bar at the back. The tables are all covered with white linen and there are tacky framed pictures of the sort you would expect to see here. Indeed, this lack of surprise was also reflected in our dinner…

The menu has the normal suspects for a (British) Indian Restaurant with the normal assortment of curry, tandoori, balti, and biryani dishes with sections for specific main ingredients: Duck, Chicken, Lamb, Fish and Vegetarian. Standard starters and rice/bread sections also feature. There are a couple of “Chef's Specials” that we were immediately drawn to.

We chose to start with, of course, papadom's (spicy and normal; £0.70 each) which arrived piping hot with three dips/sauces: Yogurt, mango chutney and lime pickle. The last was particularly strong and very dry/musty. The mango chutney was wonderful as it was not overly sweet and very smooth. The papadoms themselves were very crunchy and fresh though the spicy seemed to be slightly over cooked.

Papadom

For our mains we had the “Murgh Akabari” (mild; from the menu: “marinated chicken grilled in a tandoori oven then cooked in minced lamb and boiled egg, with ginger, garlic, cream & butter in a thick sauce of chef's recipe”; £12.95) which was a bit awkward to eat with large pieces of chicken in it's bone in the sauce (very messy to remove the bone). The spices here were very nicely judged and the lamb mince sauce delicious. The “Lamb Balti” (medium heat; from the menu: “These dishes are different than normal curries because of the exotic collection of spices and herbs are used to create aromatic flavours. Balti dishes are spicy dishes and are served with their nan bread or pilau rice”; £11.95) was served in a cup-like container and was our hands-down favourite dish of the evening. Incredible tender lamb and a delicious sauce that we did not find hot at all (it seemed milder than the “Murgh” despite the lamb balti being labelled a “medium” hot). We had a side order of “Sag Aloo” (from the menu: “Spinach cooked with chunks of spiced potatoes with onions, garlic, spices & fresh herbs”; £4.50 as a side, £6.50 if you want it as a main) which was nice with a very strong flavour of spinach.

Mains

We ordered a “Peshwari” (£2.95) and “Garlic” (£2.75; though in our case it was included in the cost of our balti) naan bread on the side which were very disappointing - The peshwari was overcooked to the point of being burned and the garlic naan tasted of raw, bitter, garlic. Our order of pilau rice (£3.50) we used to soak up the sauces of the main dishes was quite small but perfectly ok though not really memorable in any way.

The restaurant was busy when we visited at just after 8 on a Friday night with many tables occupied. It was very noisy and difficult to talk even just across the table to one another making it a bit uncomfortable staying any length of time. As the evening went on more people kept coming in and kept the staff busy. With this our service was good but not great as they offered fairly helpful if slightly indecisive advise when ordering. They did not seem to bothered when we passed on the desert menu that was presented at the end (it contained a number of deserts I recognise as possibly being prepackaged and used by many Indian restaurants in this area of the country). With multiple waiters serving us it was often difficult to attract their attention despite the small space.

The bill came to a total of £50.12 and included a service charge of 12.5% so it was quite reasonable for two people – We were both quite full and satisfied.

A couple of good dishes but a number of significant disappointments in the sides. This coupled with lacklustre service and decor I can't particularly recommend Moti Mahal but, having said that, it is perhaps a bit better some of the other tourist options in the area…

Rating:

Review Date: 2017-08-18


Cuisine: Indian

Address: 3 Gelndower Place, London SW7 3DU ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE South Kensington

Location: London (England) - Knightsbridge

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Telephone: +44 (0) 207 584 8428

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