In this weeks issue of the Croydon Advertiser Lucy Buckland reviewed Banana Leaf in Addiscombe. She said that it would redefine your Indian dining experience so good was the layout of the menu and the spicing, imported all the way from India. Now last time I heard there wasn’t a particularly strong tamarind growing climate in the UK, I haven’t got any turmeric in my greenhouse, and the ginger I use was shipped in from Jaipur. It’s not remarkable that an Indian restaurant ships in its spices it is a necessity.My importing is kindly done by Tescos or the supplier to the red shop or the man behind Wing Yip. Unless he regularly returns to the subcontinent with an empty spice suitcase I imagine Mr Banana leaf uses a similar middle man.
The people behind Sangri probably use imported spices too. Not enough of them unfortunately. A meal out last night was, with one exception – an outstanding off menu lamb saffron balti, rather bland.
The restaurant is pleasant. Walls of mirrors make it appear rather larger than it is, they also serve to ensure that the long line of waiting staff look very smart, and very uncomfortable, all of the time. The menu is what you would expect of a restaurant in this genre although prices are a quid or two higher than elsewhere – presumably the charge for drawing a flower on a plate you are soon to smear with curry.
The customary Popodums were served with slightly synthetic pickles. The mixed tandoori grill was, well, mixed. A lamb chop was nicely seasoned but a little tough, a kebab was far too dry but a chicken leg and breast was excellent. The bird was moist, giving and crusted with a umami rich marinade. It sat arrogantly on the plate as if it had violently sucked all the flavour from the surrounding lamb and just didn’t care.
A tarka daal was so boring it became an insult to both lentils and vegetarianism. Garlic, spice, lemon, flavour all lacking. Naans were generous and pulau rice was OK, orange, and served in annoying square dishes.
Other dishes that were around the table included a Tikka Masala that was sweet enough to be on any desert menu and a Lamb Saffron Balti that was delicious. Why this deep and moreish number was kept off the restaurant menu and only offered for takeaway is absolutely beyond me.
We drank Kingfisher and had a nice meal, I was glad other tables arrived to distract the rather over attentive crowd of waiting staff. It wasn’t bad, but it was ordinary. They import their spices all the way from India, maybe that is why they use them so sparingly.
I am sure if they paid the Croydon Advertiser enough they would get four stars because there is nothing offensive about Sangri. Despite putting real effort into the presentation much of the food is lacking, and for that reason I probably won’t be back.
(Although I might get the Saffron Balti to take away.)
Distance from Croydon: It’s in Croydon – opposite the excellent half and half bar.
Eight of us had a main dish and one and a half sides each, a couple of pints of Kingfisher and paid £23 per head. Small tip, no starters, no desserts.