27 April 2013: Red Fort - Award winners on tour
In January, we received the following email:
I came across your blog while checking for food and dining connoisseur in London [especially those who appreciate curry:-)]. I'd like to invite you to take Zomato for a spin. It would be great if you have some time during the next few days to meet up briefly and discuss possible opportunities to work with Zomato.
We have a team in London and would be happy to host you for dinner or just catch-up over a coffee at your convenience. Please let me know whatever works best for you.
2 months later we read it, and the rest is history…
After a very productive curry with the guys from Zomato we decided to start sharing our reviews on their site for the greater good of all their readers (and nothing to do with the chance to win an ipad). As part of our (eventually successful) endeavour towards tablet ownership we posted our Jaffna House review; the result, victory in the Write For A Bite contest and a meal ticket for two at Red Fort to the taste of £70!
Here are our well-red forts…
Red Fort is situated on Dean Street in Soho (I know, we’ve massively gone up in the world/sold out), and famed for its links to New Labour. To take our place amongst famous reds such as Mr Blair, The Milliblands and Mick Hucknall; we popped up on the Northern line on Saturday afternoon. After a few cheeky Guinnei (plural of Guinness) our appetites were well and truly whetted for, what Timeout has described as, London’s Best Indian Restaurant.
The interior didn't disappoint with clean straight lines of tables and square picture frames juxtaposed sharply against the soft rouge up lighting and glistening in-panel waterfalls.
We, the plebs, were tucked away in a corner, whilst the classier customers occupied the centre of the busy room. The atmosphere was lively and cosmopolitan, however this included some American tourists whose whiny accents dominated the airwaves.
In general, despite being miles from Tooting, the setting was appropriately smart, plus there’s a bar/club/grotto of sorts situated downstairs which has to be considered a plus point. 8/10
Starters and sides
We started with poppadoms that came engrained with cumin seeds and with an array of sides including an unusual papaya dip. We followed these with Pocha Hera Jhinga - marinated spiced king prawns in a light crispy batter with coriander and curry leaves, which were probably the highlight of the meal. The prawns were a good, juicy size, perfectly crisped in the batter, but without grease. Lovely stuff.
The second starter we chose was the Murgh Gilaafi, spiced roasted minced chicken skewers with paprika, onion and coriander. Whilst minced chicken isn't usually on our radar these were particularly good, again with a bespoke range of fruit and chilli chutney that accompanied the prawns.
With our mains we got the rice and breads, but these weren't quite as good. For the price (£6 each) these weren't particularly gourmet. The rice was…well, rice and the breads were quite dry, certainly not up to scratch in term of moistness that Tooting has to offer.
Overall, the starters were excellent, but the other sides balanced things out making it a 6/10.
For mains we made a bit of a howler. Wrongly assuming quantities would be on the stingy side we opted for the biryani for the extra rice. Unfortunately, this £20 dish, was not up to the hype and left us with more rice than China. What lamb there was was tender, but how it could ever justify the price tag I don’t know.
The Nalli Roganjosh was thankfully much more impressive. The slow cooked Scottish lamb shank in nutmeg, cinnamon and bay leaf sauce fell of the bone in a rich tomato sauce, lightly spiced and of perfect consistency. A real winner, but still pricey at £22.
Whilst, this isn't the value for money section, we can’t ignore the pound signs preceding these dishes. In this respect, one dish lived up to expectations, but the other just didn't, even if we had made the wrong choice. 6/10
The staff were all neatly kitted out in red cheque shirts that quite took my fancy to be honest; a far cry from the rather haphazard clothing on display in Tooting. However, with the reputation of the place we expected nothing more and the uniform reflected the professionalism of the staff. In fact you hardly noticed they were there - a plus on one side, but lacking in banter on the other. With not much else to say I’ll have to give them a steady 7/10.
Value For Money
Whilst fortunate enough to have a £70 voucher in our back pocket we still ended up topping the bill up £40, £25 of which was spent on the cheapest bottle of the wine we could get away with on the menu. That’s right wine, no beer. Forgive us for not respecting the high society norms, but would it kill them to put some premium lager on their menu to go with the curry, we are in Britain after all!?
So in general, as already established, even taking into account value being more than just about price (yes, I dabble in customer satisfaction market research) the price tag was mighty high, and whilst above average, the food didn't really justify it. 4/10
Whilst most grateful for our voucher, I think these two bloggers got out of their depth North of The River - best stick to Tooting next time where our stomachs and wallets will be left a little fuller. Nevertheless an enjoyable adjourn into town and certainly not the last curry we’ll be having…31/50
Address: 77 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 3SH
Cuisine: North Indian
Alcohol Policy: Licensed
Summary: Premium, central London curry house for the refined curry eater.