20 December 2017: Once bitten, twice shah
Another curry, another trip down Euston's Drummond Street. This time with the work football team, minus our token veggie and master saag paneer analyst, Jack, AKA the Prince of Harkness. Real shame.
We chose Shah Tandoori as it's one of the few, non-veggie restaurants on the strip and is sizable enough to fit a group of lively lads.
It's velvet frontage had drawn the eye on a previous occasion and felt very apt as Advent was drawing to an end.
Would Shah Tandoori be an early Christmas present or a disappointing stocking filler flop? Here's what we found out.
Shah Tandoori's purple theme carries on into the interior which has both sides flanked with impressively plush, high-backed banquette seats of the same colour. Above them are mirror-like, blue aluminium sheets while other walls are covered in a sort of faux carbon fibre material. The result is a design that looks like a cross between a boudoir and an F1 hospitality truck, complete with bespoke neon tube lights that flow across the ceiling.
Added to the sexy space vibe is an atmosphere buzzing with the expectation of curry as diners are treated to nicely clothed tables and leather bound menus.
This couldn't be in greater contrast to the shabby, Raavi Kebab just down the road and makes for a very pleasant and comfortable eating environment. 8/10 for Venue.
Starters and sides
3 x Pilao rice
2 x Peshwari naan
1 x Garlic naan
Kerazi roll (I think this is how it's spelt)
With a previous visit to nearby Chettinad not proving entirely satisfactory with the team, we made sure to get a good sized order in here. A mixed grill and kerazi roll were chosen to kick things off. The mixed grill came with three or four pieces of chicken tikka, lamb tikka and seekh kebab along with a nice garnish of crunchy peppers and onion. The meat was nicely spiced and succulent, but the whole dish didn't quite reach the level of other mixed grills we've had. In contrast, the kerazi roll, hit new heights on the scale - the Scoville scale that is! It nearly took Pete's face off; the poor man was redder than a matador's cape, whilst it left Wakey sweating like a pregnant nun. The latter of the two having just given us a masterclass in poppadom dressing that Jackson Pollock would have been proud of (see the accompanying photos for Wakey's 'Poppadom No.5').
The breads were less flashy, but nonetheless very good, the peshwari in particular was perfectly fresh and fluffy. As for the rice...well, to be honest I've kind of given up writing about rice now.
Whilst the roll literally blew our minds, it wasn't quite enough to push the score for Sides & Starters any higher than a solid 7/10.
The mains were all tastefully presented and not at all oily. The bhindi and brinjal (okra and aubergine) dishes had a particularly pleasant, almost grated vegetable texture to them and all dishes had a good creamy consistency. Unfortunately, these vegetable dishes were a little cold which detracted from our enjoyment somewhat.
In Jack's absence, we ordered a saag paneer in his honour, but didn't need his bland palette expertise to know if was fairly average. Much better were the meat dishes - the chicken makhani with a rich, creamy taste and the pick of the bunch, the lamb dhansak which had a lovely heat and a perfect balance of sweet and savoury flavours.
It may have been a higher score if half the food hadn't been cold, but despite this it's a solid 7 for Curry.
With a jam packed restaurant it took its toll on the speed of service and may explain why some of our food was a little tepid. In the end, we waited about an hour and a half, but not after Spellins had given them an earful of aggressive, impatient behaviour that this blog frowns upon. As a result, his future attendance is now under review. Despite this aggro, the waiters were completely unfazed and likewise didn't bat an eyelid when Sean decided to oafishly spill his pint all over Wakey and yours truly. The tightly packed seating arrangement left us with nowhere to go and our spirits, quite literally, dampened by a soggy pair of trousers and a wet banquette. Thanks Sean, you klutz.
The lack of reaction from the waiters could be seen in two ways - careless disregard or professional aloofness. Difficult to tell, but either way the cold food and long wait pushes the service score down to a 5.
Value for money
The total including 8 beers came to £156 between 6 of us, so around £20 a head plus drinks. Not the cheapest, but by no means unreasonable. The quality was there, but not quite the service and with no BYOB it's a perhaps slightly harsh 6 for VFM.
This was definitely an improvement on my first visit to Euston's Drummond Street where Raavi Kebab delivered authenticity, but perhaps too realistically in slightly, shall we say, rustic settings. The plush purple seats and lairy lighting of Shah's is a world apart and, whilst I'm sure not to everyone's taste, offers the more familiar and comforting surrounds of a more typical English curry house.
The food here was decent, but let down a little by the timeliness of the service. It isn't something I'm usually that bothered by, but whilst we wiled away the time with inane chat, our food was seemingly getting cold, and that is less forgivable. I would definitely return, but look forward to sampling neighbouring restaurants first.
33/50 in total.
See our other reviews for other curry houses on Euston's Drummond Street and nearby here
Address: 159 Drummond St, Kings Cross, London NW1 2PB
Alcohol Policy: Licensed
Summary: Lively Tandoori restaurant on Drummond Street Euston that serves up really good Indian fare.