30 November 2018: Paradise - Paradise lost
We had a lads night out in Pimlico, yes Pimlico. OK, so it was less of a night out than a gathering at Cask Pub & Kitchen, but it was with the uni lads. Needless to say, we had a few jars and as things petered out we started looking for food to soak up all the craft beer. I had Paradise Indian Restaurant flagged on my Google Maps (heaven knows why) so, in the absence of anywhere else to go in Pimlico we headed there to see if it would live up to its name.
Paradise is in Pimlico... well the restaurant of the same name is at least. From the outside, a slightly drab and weather worn, burgundy awning hints at the age of the establishment and their website confirms it has been around since 1989 when 'the public perception of Indian food was that the girls ate Korma and the boys wolfed down Madras or Vindaloo - accompanied by copious quantities of lager'.
Fortunately, things have changed (a bit) and the interior is slightly more up to date. Cream white walls lined with tasteful art border a smart interior with neatly laid tables, lit by the numerous spotlights above. Halfway to the back, a bar breaks the straight line of tables flanking each side whilst musak on the airwaves completes the contemporary Indian dining scene.
Paradise is far from a destination curry and, despite little to criticise and a lack of other opions nearby, you still have to go out of your way to find it. Once found it hardly draws you in and therefore it's a 6 for Venue.
Starters and sides
I'm not going to lie, I was 7 pints better off when conducting this review and have very limited notes to go on. In a nutshell, the food was what I've come to expect from an Indian restaurant from a certain location and era: average.
We started with poppadoms that came with paintball green raita whose colour overbore the flavour. These were followed by chicken tikka pieces that ticked the right boxes, but did nothing to wow us. The breads were better, arriving piping hot and with very generous fillings of minced lamb (keema) and coconut (peshwari) respectively.
The biryani was, however, more in line with the chutnies - very old school in style, with tomato and cucumber embedded in it's ricey mound. The lamb within was ok, but the accompanying sauce - a very watery, cabbage, potato and green bean number left a lot to be desired.
Salvaged by the naan it's a slightly generous 6 out of 10 for these rather prosaic Starters and sides.
The mains were also a little lacking with the chicken jaipuri being particularly poor. Probably one of the least appetising curries we've seen, this sour, watery number, with its solitary boiled egg floating in the middle, resembled something far less savoury.
The tarka dal was better looking and had a good mix of textures, with both chunky and soft lentils, while the lamb dhansak stood out as the only dish with a bit of heat. The lamb in it was very tender, but the overall dish also had a slightly odd appearance, being a stronger red than usual.
All very middle of the road and not hugely appealing to the eye.
It was quite clear that the staff here weren't overjoyed to see us stumble in about ten minutes before closing. Their smart, bow-tied front couldn't hide the fact they were very keen to go home. Service was still decent and very quick as a result, but you could feel the eyes drilling into the backs of our heads as if willing us to hurry up.
Value for money
Some of the other scores I've given are a little generous, perhaps helped by an alcohol-fuelled, rose-tinted persepctive on things at the time. However, that says it all really. The quality here isn't great and, at up to £12 for the dhansak, doesn't represent great value for money either. Portions were on the smaller side too. Add the price of beers and it's a low score for VFM.
The name Paradise is a more than a stretch for this establishment. Whilst an oasis in a relative curry desert around Victoria, it is far from idyllic or a place to spend your afterlife. Whilst the website boasts that their menu has evolved to meet the more discerning tastes of Londoners over the years, it still has a long way to go to match some of London's finest curry offerings. At the time it fulfilled a need, but we won't be heading back anytime soon.
Address: 5 Denbigh St, Victoria, London SW1V 2HF
Alcohol Policy: Licensed
Summary: Fairly average Indian restaurant between Victoria and Pimlico