Monday, 24 November 2008

03. Pink Rupee

Pink Rupee, 38 Cricklewood Broadway, 020 8452 7665

Gourmand writes: Our expectations fell dramatically the moment we entered the restaurant. Tinny, noisy and hugely irritating Hindi pop leaked from the kitchen through an open door, a jarring racket that continued throughout the meal. It was like 4am at a minicab office in Archway.

The plastic flowers on the wall seemed to be dying; the Nepalese tourism posters next to them were yellowing. Pink Rupee (not as in 'pink pound' - we ruled out homosexual involvement when we saw the decor) is 23 years old, our mop-headed waiter told us, but it isn't growing old gracefully. For its 25th birthday I'll buy the owner a tub of paint and the chef some headphones.

The words 'Nepalese Tandoori Restaurant' are printed on the front of the menu, but our waiter, who must be bored of the view by now, confessed that only a few dishes would be found in Kathmandu. One of these was our starter, momo (pictured) - steamed, spicy and very tasty minced beef dumplings. The main courses were also solid. We're not convinced it's an authentic dish, but the fish nepal, in a cream and mango sauce, combined well with a sprightly lamb bhuna, pilao rice, naan bread and imported Nepalese beer. All perfectly good (if a bit pricey at £26 for two). We'll get it delivered next time...

Gormless writes: When Gourmand said our next stop showed football and encouraged a "bit of a smoke", I thought we were going round Wazzo's for a night in. I was wrong, but so was my patron, for the Arabic 'café' serves only hot drinks and shisha. No food, no review; and Gourmand's disappointment was obvious. I could tell he wanted a night being jostled by boisterous young things arguing loudly over nothing.

Thank god, then, that the next venue was an Indian; a night in which is a lynchpin of the 'chav culture' he so covets. I say Indian, but it was more Nepalese, or at least it was at the start before switching to Indian, but what's the difference anyway? Not much according to our waiter who said the distinction lay in the intensity of the spicing. Nepalese grub is cooler, apparently, because of all the snow, or something. I didn't follow his entire lesson as his perfect mop-top hair distracted me. We started with Nepalese beer and momo, a meat-stuffed dumpling perfect to put in your bumbag for a mountain hike and very tasty. We followed this with lamb bhuna, fish Nepal, rice and naan - all fine but not particularly memorable, especially compared to the taste vistas glimpsed at Abyssinia.

This restaurant has been here for 23 years, so it is no surprise that it's tired. The atmosphere was undermined by the past-caring, exposed kitchen, which allowed a tinny Here Comes the Hot-Stepper to compromise our enjoyment. It was not exactly buzzing, either, more a venue for blokes to bore/annoy one another. Good food, though, and somewhat unlucky to come after Abyssinia. I'm sure I would find a lot more to praise if it followed Chicken Spot or Euro Net.

A respectable result for Pink Rupee. Might qualify for the UEFA Cup.

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