A name that seems to have split opinion. I remember seeing it for the first time and wondering where they were going with it. Considering it opened in the place of a Slug & Lettuce and while they were refurbishing the layout of the bar was staying basically the same I could see where this doubt was coming from. It seemed to take an age for the whitewashed windows to show anything other than a building site despite the almost instantaneous addition of their interesting branding. A brilliant concept blending two of the greatest pastimes available. Beer and Curry. I was eager to see what they ended up with.
What you get once you walk in is a large room separated into two distinct sections. On your right is a largish sports bar complete with bar stools and several big screens. As you move to the left you’ll see a smart looking yet unremarkable restaurant setting which hosts pleasant looking crisp white tablecloths and large semi frosted windows looking onto the relatively dour looking Great Titchfield Street. Not the grandest of sights but i’ll not knock them for the vista as I’ve had killer curries served in the shittiest of dumps. A combination not akin to shagging whichever large breasted page 3 girl is taking your fancy at the time in an unpleasantly fragrant public toilet. You’re not really going to complain are you but still….
Luckily for Chutney & Lager I’ve been in here several times now and had started writing this review after my first visit a while back. It wouldn’t have quite stirred the anger bubbles forever coursing my veins in a dormant rage like Connoisseurs had because at least they had put in effort and initiative here, but it certainly wouldn’t have been pretty. If you would care to check out other reviews of this place online, two things are immediately apparent: Some people know absolutely fuck all about Indian food and can’t spell (why anyone would choose to comment on any website with a laughable command of the English language is way beyond my feeble mind. It’s like speaking to an adult in a nappy – fine if you’ve paid for it but otherwise a depressing experience), and some of these people must have a vested interest in Chutney & Lager because the food here is mostly shit. As things stand right now I can say that with hand on heart. However, the saving grace here is the bar. Again not the best but name me one other bar in London where you can grab a beer, watch cricket on big screens and have free poppadoms placed in front of you while you discuss just how much you hate Graeme Smith. There’s thin competition.
Poppadoms and Pickles – In the bar they’re free which is just about right as they are drenched in oil and unremarkable. Unbelievably, in the restaurant you actually have to pay for them. The pickles and chutneys seemed to me to be made from a long treasured and reverently handed down grandmothers recipe, none of this crap from a jar for these guys. However, this grandma was retarded and should have been kept in a cage somewhere in Uttar Pradesh. No good.
Beers – Seeing as this is a bar as well as a restaurant you have a good stock of draught lagers although sadly Cobra isn’t one of them. Present in bottle form though so all is not lost
Sides – One of the highlights here. I haven’t dipped into too many but the pakora goes down a treat with a few beers. Huge portions too.
Curries – If I didn’t know any better I would think this place was owned by Kerry Katona because it certainly seems like someone has been to Iceland. I’m not sure if that would be a bad thing actually as seeing a pissed up northern tart making a nob of herself is a decent notch on your bedpost for any messy evening. To put it in simpler terms, the food here is really really poor. If I was feeling a little more verbal I’d tell you how insipid the curries were in glorious technicolour. However I’m not so you’ll have to settle for this: Their curries taste of what I imagine cocks to taste like.
Vindictiveness of Waiters – These guys were probably plucked from an Indian YTS scheme. No good although when working with a supremely ordinary chef it’s not really fair to blame them for the huge mess. Maybe I’m being unfair. He certainly carried our plates to us without spilling anything. Best I can say under the circumstances
Face Towels – None. I’m depressed even writing this. Mind you seeing as the curries were milder than a threesome with 2 accountants it hardly matters
Complimentary Chocolate With the Bill – *Sob*. I need a hug. Hold me….
Price – Way way too expensive for what you get. This place looks so inviting once you’re in but offers so little. An Indian Venus Fly Trap if you like. An uninspiring bowl of mini poppadoms, 2 pints of Kingfisher, 1 excellent pakora, 2 of the most average curries you will ever taste and 2 pilau rice comes in somewhere around £50. On reflection I’d rather buy 30 copies of The Big Issue and tip the vendor a fiver.
Final Score – 6 out of 10. Mainly for the promise and the brave innovation. You’d be way better off having a few beers here and then heading a few yards up the road to Shikara. At least that way you’ll not want to fight a copper come 11pm.
One Sentence Summary – Great bar, shit food, must do better.