Followers of the Two Bears know, we’re fanatics of Indian cuisine. We’ve eaten at well over 60 Indian restaurants across Victoria, Australia and the U.S.A., suffice to say, we know a thing or two about what we like to see in an Indian eatery.
So whenever a new place pops up on our ‘local’ radar, it’s pretty much a requirement to gear up for Mission: India. It’s little wonder then, that our ears perked and mouths watered when we saw the banquet deal for Royal Bhoj in our local paper: 2 entrees, 3 mains, raita, bread, rice & dessert for $19 per person? Where do we sign? ha!
We may be wrong, but we’re pretty sure the only things that have remained the same from the previous owners (Bhoj), are the location and fitout. That means, technically, these guys are new kids on the block, so the previous restaurant’s accolades aren’t necessarily a good indication of what you’ll get if and when you go – despite the fact the awards from Bhoj are still hanging on the walls.
Before we dive into the food experience, we’d like to point out that these guys were very accomodating on the night and clearly want to better themselves. When we rocked up (on a Saturday night) we had forgotten our banquet coupon, yet they honoured it. Very cool. And at the end of the meal, they asked us to complete a feedback form (which we did, honestly) so they can improve. Very very cool.
Now, it pretty much goes downhill from there.
The complimentary papadams were chewy, which isn’t a texture either of us are fans of – digging pappadam out of your teeth before the meal’s even started just isn’t pretty. Add to that, the mint chutney was a salt attack. We honestly think there was a huge mix-up when they were making it (eg. salt container and sugar container not labelled, yet sitting next to each other on the shelf?). It was totally inedible and a very sad way to start the meal. Strike one. BUT, the tamarind chutney was fine. Guess that’s a positive, eh?
|Pappadams & Chutneys|
Next up were the Vegetable Samosas, which – for the first time in my life – I didn’t finish. They were slightly oily on the outside, but incredibly oily on the inside. Hey, I’ve had my fair share of samosas, and I know they’re fried so it’s not like I’m expecting them to be oil-less. But to get a mouthful of glisteningly oily filling just wasn’t a happy moment in my life. I even had hubby bear try, to make sure I wasn’t over-reacting, and he agreed. Samosas, strike two.
Hubby had the Chicken Kashmiri Tikka and said it was pretty good. Nothing special, but good. Given the bad experiences with the pappadams, chutney and samoas so far, he was happy to take anything good at this point.
|Samosas and Chicken Kashmiri Tikka|
My main was the Malai Paneer Kofta which was quite unfortunate. The kofta balls had so much oil in them that when I cut into one to scoop it up for a bite, the oil oozed out of the remaining portion on my plate. I averted my eyes, chewed like it was going out of style, and prayed it would be okay in the end. But my stomach turned and said, No More Please!! Strike three. I just stopped eating, I’m out of this game now. However, in fairness, the curry itself was okay, but once a tummy turns like that, it’s hard to recover.
|Malai Kofta Paneer|
Hubby bear said the meat in the Beef Kombi curry was, quality-wise, good, yet remained perplexed how it was chopped up into tiny bits that seemed perfectly sized for my cat to eat. As if they took two or three good-sized pieces, and splintered them up to make the bowl look full of meat. Okay, okay, so we shouldn’t complain – it’s a discounted banquet right? Yeah, yeah. But the only problem was the actual curry itself was devoid of any actual flavour, and replaced with nothing by spice-heat. Now, we’re not talking Vindaloo spice-heat. There’s flavour in that. This was just spice-hot, no flavour.
The saving grace for this meal was the Chicken Butter Cream (sorry, forgot to take a photo!), which was a pretty standard rendition, yet the fact it was actually tasty enough to be eaten (compared to everything else) made it seem really good. I even dipped some of the naan bread – which was actually very nicely done (kudos! yay! hoorah! something yummy!) into the butter cream sauce because I was so hungry and wanted to eat something. (Yet every time I looked at the kofta ball on my plate with its river of oil oozing out of it, my stomach would turn.)
It goes without saying, we didn’t finish our mains. And we skipped the desert. We weren’t going to hang around to find out what that was going to be like. The servers were very nice as we paid for all the food and our wine corkage, then we went home pining over the lost opportunity here.
Perhaps, for the set banquet special, the chef chose wrongly. So we just so happened to cop the worst possible dinner they’ll ever dish up. Perhaps. But perhaps, the chef here just can’t cook. Or if he/she can, they’re not tasting anything coming out of that kitchen.
Two thumbs down from two sad bears.
Value: ★★★★★ ✔ (thanks to the banquet coupon)