As we turned up to Chakra, we were a little embarrassed. I thought I had booked for a standard curry house, but the white leather interior and people in suits put an end to such thoughts.
Our poppadoms had been deliberately broken up. They were trying too hard, I don’t know how such touches were meant to add to the experience, but rather trying such things as they felt they had to, to make a ‘posher Indian experience’. This ended in a rather comical scene where my brother (who had recently fractured his finger), was trying to put some chutney on a crumb of poppadom (maybe you had to be there!)
We were even given an amouse bouche; a red bean thing. Nice enough, but I started to think they were trying to be something they weren’t. If you want to be an upmarket restaurant then you have to serve upmarket, better food, not just pretend to do so.
As the mains arrived, all I could think was ‘mutton dressed as lamb’.
The food was cold and lacked that deep depth of flavour. Give me a good old curry house all day long to this. There is a reason why places like Benares are successful. They have managed to Westernise and modernise their cuisine, without losing real, delicious Indian flavours. Chakra tried to poshen it up and failed. How does breaking the poppadom in to tiny pieces add to the experience; it doesn’t!
The service by some of the waiters was, like the food, a little cold. When taking our orders, their eyes would drift else where and showed little interest or respect to us. At my favourite Indian place (Sai mantra in Gants hill), they often forget cutlery, the menus are old takeaway menus and the waiters speak little English, but they are polite and appreciate the custom; again this over robotic, often rude waiters yet dressed nicely, all day long!