28 May 2017 - Indian Room: Room for one more
What do you do on a sunny Bank Holiday when the heavens open? Go for a curry obviously.
With the air muggy and the rain thrashing down outside, it felt positively tropical in Balham. Indeed, memories of Indian storms on Varkala beach came flooding back with the teeming precipitation outside. Perhaps it was this holiday nostalgia that led to a subliminal craving for curry, or maybe it was the fact that I hadn't had one in a while. Either way, it was a desire that wouldn't be satisfied any other way. Fortunately, Indian Room was only a short walk away so that's where we went.
Indian Room is the sister restaurant of Indian Moment on Northcote Road, Clapham. I believe it is also run by the same team behind Thali and PIckles, on the other side of Sainsbury's car park. Indian Room is on the Bedford Hill side at the centre of the strip of restaurants that line the road In this neighbourhood, it shares some reputable company including Milk, Franco Manca and the illustrious Chick'n Empire. With such competition, Indian Room has to stand out from the crowd and it's stylish dark purple shop front does just that.
Almost red wine coloured, the exterior drinks you in to a similarly plush and tasteful surround. No budget IKEA furniture here, but instead lattice-backed, dark wood chairs and red velvet upholstered banquettes. Vibrant art lines the walls and dark, matt metal lampshades hang tastefully from above. This is not your typical rough and ready, Tooting canteen-style curry house.
Mirrors hide the fact that this is a cosy little restaurant and the warmth of the furnishings to boot make it a very welcoming one. Frequently busy, it is seemingly a popular restaurant too. Nothing here to turn us away so it's a strong score for venue.
Starters and sides
Saffron pulao rice
About to order a mixed grill for main, we opted against any of the starters, but had some popadoms to kick things off. These were good and the chutnies were excellent. Not for those who love a chunky chutney, these were nice and smooth with mango, chili and mint varieties. Some of the nicest we've had and a good indication of the quality touches on show at Indian Room.
The peshwari naan was equally good, nice and fresh and fluffy. However, despite being reknowned for being the most expensive than gold, the saffron pulao rice was nothing special, but it's weight was certainly felt at £3.95 for a fairly small portion.
So good, but fairly standard stuff from the starters and sides. 7/10
Shahi Beigun (Aubergine freshly cooked with onion and herbs)
Dall saag (Spinach and lentils cooked with a kiss of spices)
There was a mix up with our order that meant our mixed platter came in start size initially. The waiter kindly let us have the extra order, but we were left waiting quite a while only to have the same dish again, just double the size. So a bonus plate, not to be sniffed at, but given the wait, the meat didn't feel that fresh. It didn't sizzle as expected and was quite dry. The sheek kebab, chicken tikka and lamb chops were all tasty, but the mixed platter didn't rival others we've sampled.
The dall saag, a nice mix of lentils and spinach was another delicate creation, but from experience better visual presentation can often be to the detriment of flavour. In this case it was a nice dish, but just lacked a little something extra. The same could be said about the aubergine curry - the shahi beigun. This was a slightly better dish, but didn't pack as flavoursome a punch as similar dishes locally.
This is a far cry from waiters running around like headless chickens a mile further down the road in Tooting. All staff here are neatly turned out, polite and attentive. Whilst there was a mix up with our order that did leave us waiting for our main, we were given the extra dish for free and the waiter was very apologetic. We were also allowed to apply an online advanced booking discount despite having not booked online. So plenty of positives to balanced out the slight negative. 7/10 for service.
Value For Money
As alluded to there is, at the time of this review, a sizeable discount available to you if you book in advance online. 30% off food Sunday to Thursday and 25% on Friday and Saturday. If you don't take advantage of these offers your bill could easily mount, with mains at £9-10 on average. Far from overly expensive and representative of London prices more generally, these are still a pound or two more than those in Tooting, a short tube away. Our mixed platter was £15 which felt a touch too much and, whilst alcohol is available, there is no BYO so again, not as good value as other restaurants locally.
So book ahead to save where you can - 7 for value.
Indian Room is an all round safe bet. Good service, well presented covers and plates and good quality dishes. I would like to come back again to try more curried mains, but on this review the food could stand out a little more. If looking for a comparator then Vijaya Krishna in Tooting has a similar vibe, but perhaps better flavours.
Venue and service push the score up more than the food, meaning it's a generous 35/50 overall.
Address: 59 Bedford Hill, London SW12 9EZ
Alcohol Policy: Licensed
Summary: Stylish Indian in the heart of Balham's restaurant hub. Refined dining, but comes at a slight premium.