6 August 2018: Gandhi's - A little bit blandhi
Another outing with old work colleagues and this time we ventured to Kennington. I say ventured, but for Pete it was a short stroll from his home - a bit too convenient given he'd organised it. Selfish, if anything, especially as he took an age to get it done. Nevertheless, we all made it to the Prince of Wales, Kennington, for a pre-dinner pint, then a couple more at The Dog House.
On the way we passed the renowned Kennington Tandoori, a few doors up from Gandhi's; how would Gandhi's compare?
Gandhi's is situated on the Kennington Road just North of Oval cricket ground and has a good few pubs nearby to book-end any meal. The bold silver sign above a red frontage can't be missed and once inside neither can the distinctive interior design. Unusual, but colourful glassware lines the walls and shelves giving Gandhi's a classy feel. Maroon red banquette seating and white walls complete a clean and modern scene.
The only thing missing was decent lighting and even once the staff had turned it on the dining experience was slightly gloomy. This seemed a strange omission from the otherwise tasteful surround. 7/10 for Venue.
Starters and sides
Gandhi's sharing platter
2 x Pulao rice
We cracked things off with some poppadoms, accompanied by some rather measly portioned dips; the raita in particular didn't last long. Otherwise, the mango chutney had a touch of Sharwood's about it, but the lime pickle stood out with a particularly sour punch.
After the poppadoms we moved onto a range of starters. The Ghandi's sharing platter, the house version of a mixed grill, came with chicken tikka cubes, tandoori chicken wings, sheek kebab and onion bhaji. In summary, it was ok, far off the pace of the best, mostly on account of the meat being a little dry. The same could be said for the shami kebab despite some a nice coriander fragrance.
More succulent were the naans - no complaints there - but the most unusual dish of all was the paneer fry. Swimming in an overly sweet, korma-style sauce these fish-finger style, paneer cuboids were rather bland; unfortunately a sign of things to come.
Despite decent breads it's a 5/10 for starters and sides.
Lamb pasanda nawdi
After the slightly underwhelming start we hoped the mains would turn things around. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. I don't think the white serving bowls helped the presentation, creating a stark contrast to the strangely coloured dishes, but as the pictures show none of the curries looked especially appetising.
The methi gosht was probably the best of the bunch, looking at least in line with its description and had fairly tender lamb pieces, but lacked good fenugreek flavours. The lamb pasanda was equally lacking in expected notes, leaning towards meaty rather than cream or coconut flavours and, like the vegetable dhansak, was far too sugary.
Indeed, the sweetness in the dishes was the main caused for dissatisfaction. These felt like carelessly made dishes rather than the labours of love we've come to expect, masking blandness with overpowering, sucrose flavours. This sense of amateurism was most apparent in the prawn pathia that had little heat or bitterness, but instead looked and tasted more like sweet tomato soup with cheap prawns in it.
The signature biryani was some consolation, but whilst looking more the part didn't have the most complex of flavours or inherent moisture to rival the best. It is therefore a very disappointing and low 3/10 for the curries.
Fortunately, service didn't reflect the food although it wasn't the quickest. The waiter was particularly slow in taking down our order in very concentrated handwriting.
The tables were all nicely laid out and well presented and they didn't mind bringing new plates and cutlery for each course which isn't always the standard, Neither did they mind turning the lights on at our request when we struggled to see the food we were eating.
After eights at the end of the meal were a nice bonus, but they weren't the most attentive throughout.
Perhaps tainted a little by the overall experience it's a 6/10 for service.
Value for money
As you might expect our value for money rating isn't going to be high given the relative quality of the food.
Gandhi's is a touch more premium in terms of price anyway and whilst this may be justified by the fancy decor, the dishes offered didn't live up to their elevated price tags. Throw in no BYOB and £5 beers instead and it's another low score.
Presumably named after the esteemed leader of the Indian independence movement, the connection to greatness seemingly stops there.I wouldn't go as far as echoing Sean's thoughts: "Muggy punters; bowls of lies", but he's not far off.
Unfortunately, Gandhi's may look the part, but this is style over substance. The main ingredient for any good restaurant is the food and on our visit we didn't feel this lived up to expectations. It felt overpriced and underwhelming and sadly it's an overall 25/50, and that's with a good Venue score.
Address: 347 Kennington Rd, London SE11 4QE
Alcohol Policy: Licensed
Summary: Stylish restaurant, but not so great food.