9 January 2014: Daawat: A dosa and a daawat
Full of New Year resolve and health binge reverie we decided to go for a curry. Whilst we made a dent in our fitness plans, the same pain wasn’t felt by our wallets as the kind folk at Zomato welcomed in our 2014 with a gift voucher. In the process, we inadvertently celebrated our two year anniversary too (the blog’s, not mine and Tom’s).
The money off was to sample Daawat’s thali menu and so that’s what we did. Poor form to start 2014 outside of Tooting, but we’re not going to turn down free food, least not when it’s only a short stroll from work.
Dawaat is situated off the Strand and is part of the Strand Palace Hotel, but there was no red carpet rolled out for us, instead we entered via the side entrance on Burleigh Street.
Upon entry we were given a choice of seats…pretty much all of them as there was no one there. We chose a table by the window and took in our desolate surroundings.
The tables were each adorned with a flower in a glass, and the deep red of the walls juxtaposed tastefully with the dark wood furniture, picture frames and white coving. However, eagle-eyed Tom Scrimgour noted down the paper table cloths and surmised that the rest of the interior may not be as high end as it first appears.
The few other diners seemed to be hotel guests who had stumbled in the wrong door on the way to the hotel bar or tourists looking for a real British experience. We jest of course, but eavesdropping on a table twenty metres away revealed the not so dulcet tones of some Americans that suggested our suspicions were well-founded. Indeed, the request for something ‘full bodied’ from the wine list that overbore the calming, authentic restaurant music, confirmed we weren’t in the company of fellow enthusiasts. Undeterred (mostly as we were comfortably at a distance from these cowboys) we reached for the menu.
Starters and Sides (Thali)
Methi Murgh Kebab
Punjabi Chole (Chickpeas)
Dal Tadka (Lentils)
Jeera Aloo (Potatoes)
As we were sent to sample the thali menu we obliged accordingly. As such, the starter, sides and curry all came at once.
For starter, we had a choice of methi murgh kebab or vegetable samosa. We each opted for the chicken kebab that had a nice, zingy fenugreek flavour. This was complimented by a plethora of small side dishes (katori) that offered a range of vegetarian dipping options for the naan and poppadum, both of which were very fresh. The lentil, dal tadka was my favourite, but the chole and jeera aloo were each distinct and worthy contributors to the thali.
All in all, the platters were fair in size, but the downside of this form of meal is that all items get cold quite quickly. Unfortunately, nothing really took our breath away either.
Some consolation was the third course on the menu – desert. We had a triple chocolate bavarois (read posh cheesecake) and some pistachio kulfi. Both were very good, with the kulfi taking us pleasantly by surprise. As this isn’t usually our field, we won’t take into account here, 6/10 it is then for starters and sides.
Chef’s own lamb rogan josh
Goan prawn curry
For the main we turned down the choices of chicken tikka masala and paneer makhani for the chef’s own lamb rogan josh and Goan prawn curry. Presumably the chef also had a hand in the Goan prawn which ticked all the right boxes with a healthy kick and tangy, tamarind and coconut sauce that complimented the rice. The slow braised lamb came in a light, mace and cinnamon curry that was equally punchy. Both dishes were thin in texture and in portion, but still more than decent in flavour. 7/10.
The staff were very attentive and constantly asked us how our meal was. The cynic in me would say this is because we had a voucher and they knew our game, or simply because they had nothing better to do given the lack of visitors, but nevertheless it was appreciated. Beyond this, our main waiter wasn’t much of a talker, but he seemed a good lad. Not a huge amount to add – 7/10.
Value For Money
After 7pm the thali is £18 for three courses, which is perhaps a little steep, but is available earlier for less, at 4-7pm for £15. The beer was also a bit pricey at £4.50 a bottle. I suppose you’re always going to pay tourist prices in central London so we can’t be too harsh, but once again we find another reason to go to Tooting for a curry instead. 6/10 for value for money, but may have been lower had we not received a voucher.
A decent, pre-theatre, venue with a convenient set menu to boot, we didn’t have anything to complain about at Daawat apart from maybe the atmosphere. We’ll put that down to seasonality on this occasion, but otherwise nothing really knocked our socks off, leaving us with a final total of 32/50.
Address: 51-53 Shelton St, London WC2H 9JU, UK
Alcohol Policy: Licensed
Summary: Hotel restaurant off the strand. Fairly hidden when it was open, but now closed, it probably won't be missed.