A new Indian restaurant opening a short distance from home, what could possibly go wrong! Sadly it seems, everything. I almost wondered if this review was ever going to be about the food as it was such an arduous process getting there.
Bollywood Tiger in Yaxley is billed as a trendy new restaurant for the village, adding some long overdue spice to the local dining scene. No longer do Yaxley residents need to trek over to Kurryz at Hampton, Angel Spice in Stilton or even further afield to get a fix of restaurant-quality Indian cuisine.
Bollywood Tiger? More like Bollywood Sloth…
Typically I seemed to have chosen to have a curry on the same night as half of Yaxley, with my numerous attempts to call in advance to place my takeaway order resulting in a line-busy dial tone. Not put off and with my curry goggles on, I headed over to the restaurant to order and maybe have a nosey at the restaurant whilst there.
After a few laps of Yaxley village trying to find a parking space I eventually made it into the restaurant bar, a dimly lit area swathed in blue light like some kind of nightclub. I’m no interior designer but I can’t help feeling someone got it a bit wrong when buying the lightbulbs in Homebase but still, I’m here now so I’ll get my order in. At least, that was the plan. Despite there being no-one else in a queue, the bartender was more interested in making cocktails than acknowledging us waiting. The restaurant phone was blaring out the “howler” off-hook tone which bemused some of the waitresses and waiters were busy running around doing something or other. Just as one enterprising waiter decided to take our order he replaced the phone handset to silence the howler tone, only for the phone to immediately ring (it transpires that due to so many calls the staff decided to take the phone off the hook). Rather than politely ask the caller to wait, he instead starts to take down an order – despite the floor starting to develop a patina from us standing in wait for so long.
Over twenty minutes after first walking in, I finally place the order. Mission accomplished. Only to then be told that because the kitchen is so busy, it could be up to an hour before my order is ready. Seriously? Not one member of staff had the forethought to inform customers as they arrived? Stupidly and despite all the alarm bells going off in my head I agree to wait as the bar area begins to fill up with diners waiting for tables and takeaway customers waiting to place and collect orders. Amazingly, one waiter notices my annoyance and kindly offers a complimentary drink whilst I wait. Thank you to that member of staff – employee of the month has never been so deserving.
Back to ranting about the interior designer as someone obviously thought the best way for staff to get from the bar to the restaurant dining room would be to battle through crowds of customers waiting in the bar area. Having got there just before the rush, I bagged myself a stool in the waiting area and could see all the drama. Several more unhappy customers, some in the restaurant asking when they’ll get their drinks, others overjoyed at finally having received their food.
And then after over an hour of being in the bar area, it’s my turn – a waiter has a brown bag laden with what I pray is my order, he scans the crowd and spots me, he gestures that my order is ready. Finally.
On getting home the usual theatre of unpacking a takeaway ensued: identifying hot containers in various shades of brown; Distributing poppadoms and accompaniments; Working out which is the plain naan and which is the peshwari.
Of the dishes ordered, the Lamb Rogan Josh was by far the best, with good quality melt in the mouth meat. The Bengal Naga Chilli was fiery as you would expect but it wasn’t the best I had (the Angel Spice at Stilton takes that prize), with more of a tomatoey gravy than what I’m used to. The failure of a dish has to be the Chicken Tikka Balti which despite having plenty of meat was devoid of flavour to the point where it just tasted odd – “it’s edible” being the best we could come up with.
Clearly we visited on a bad night, with all front of house staff overwhelmed by the demand but why should paying customers suffer? Staff need to manage better – put a telephone message in place, take orders straight away and inform customers at the start if there is going to be a considerable delay.
The food menu is probably too big for the size of the kitchen, with several Desi dishes on the menu in addition to typical British Indian restaurant cuisine. I applaud them for trying to offer something different but clearly they don’t have the capacity for it. The bar is a weak link – instead of trying to offer “trendy” cocktails, stick to wine, bottles, a single draught ale and lager to speed up service.
With such an initial delay it’s fair to say that we were fairly annoyed so the food had to be good to save this Bollywood Tiger from the endangered species list. Unfortunately it’s not there yet and it may be some time before I risk going there again.