5 December 2017: Raaving not such a good time
Up until this point a curry on Euston's Drummond Street had passed me by. Not literally, as curries don't move (unless thrown), but you know what I mean.
I had been to The Exmouth Arms around the corner a few years ago and remember being dazzled by the bright lights of the short strip of curry houses at the time. However, it's neon charms evidently failed to instill a call to curry powerful enough to bring me back until this point. Joining me on this outing was Tom (yes, he still does sometimes contribute to this blog) and Louise (a curry blog veteran who we like to mock for resembling a penguin).
I had a long look online to decide where my first port of call on this famous London curry spot would be. In the end, I settled on Raavi Kebab for a number of reasons. Firstly, many Indian restaurants on this road are vegetarian, which I wasn't sure would be to my fellow diners taste and secondly the reviews were good. Thirdly, the menu looked authentic and very reasonably priced, reminding me of similar establishments in Tooting. So here are our thoughts on our first outing on Drummond Street.
First impressions were that the restaurant looked like a cross between a mini-cab office and a student flat. Front of house in the would-be cabbies booth was not a depressed looking receptionist, but a coal fired grill. In the back, pin-up calendars, local maps and car posters wouldn't have been out of place. Instead tables had been crammed in to this back-room, poker-den of a place to seat a room full of customers.
This scene vaguely resembled typical small eateries in India and the prevalence of male diners reinforced this notion. I wasn't sure Louise would be let in, but luckily Indian patriarchy doesn't stretch to Euston. However, this didn't add much shine to what is a pretty sorry looking restaurant.and to make matters worse there is no alcohol, not even BYO. 4/10
Starters and sides
Seekh kebabs x3
Lamb chops x4
Chicken tikka pieces x4
The grill in the front was a very welcome sight and so, with kebab in the restaurant's name, we had to sample some from the menu. We opted for seekh kebabs (minced lamb skewers) and lamb chops, the latter coming with a tandoori-style red hue. Both dishes were good, but nothing special. Likewise, the chicken tikka was nothing but solid.
Prior to the kebabs we had popadoms that were served with a plate (yes plate) of an unappetizing greeny-brown curry sauce. Not an ideal dipping setup, but we persevered with wiping our popadoms into the shallow mixture. It reminded me of green chili sauce often served up in ketchup-style bottles in India so wasn't too bad, but next to a few sorry looking lettuce slices it probably summed up the sad aesthetic of the whole place.
As for the breads, these were ok, but Tom felt they weren't fresh and doubted the naans had been made in a tandoor. So, unfortunately we didn't sample a killer griller experience at Raavi Kebab, but sides and starters were ok. 6/10
Nithari lamb shank
Lamb okra ghost
The mains followed suit in that they were all good but not great. The curries had an authentic feel and flavour, but likewise were fairly greasy, especially the lamb shank dish. The okra didn't feel that fresh or at least didn't pack the bitter edge that we've experienced from similar dishes elsewhere.
The chicken karahi was probably the pick of the dishes and also the most presentable, with rich spicy tomato flavours and a generous ratio of chicken pieces to sauce. In general, portion sizes were on the average size, but prices were fair. Another steady 6/10 as Raavi continued on a trend of satisfying but not blowing us away.
As with the whole restaurant, the service was a bit haphazard and informal, but they were reasonably attentive given the large numbers packed into the small space.
One of the waiters started with a 'joke', asking Louise what she wanted after we'd just ordered a big order for the whole table. Hilarious? perhaps not, but attempts at humour are always welcomed by this blog.
Otherwise there was little else memorable from the staff other than the fact we were sat in front of the soft drinks fridge and so were often in their way. With little room for manoeuvre all-round it was hardly a comfortable experience. Another (probably generous) 6.
Value for money
All told, the bill came to £55 with tip so not too bad, but that excluded drinks. We were full enough and we ordered a fair amount of dishes so can't complain. About on par with other similar restaurants, but nothing to write home about in terms of quality, neither from the food nor surroundings. 6/10.
It's fair to say our first visit to Drummond Street wasn't an overwhelming one, but having walked it's spice infused streets we now know how many more curry houses there are to try here. We'll be coming back... just maybe not to Raavi Kebab.
28/50 overall - good, but not the one.
Click here for review of nearby Shah Tandoori
Address: 125 Drummond St, Regent's Park, London NW1 2HL
Alcohol Policy: No alcohol
Summary: Rough and ready, but busy little curry house and kebab grill in Euston. Authentic flavours, but not the best you'll ever eat.