It looked like we'd picked a bad night for our second visit to Stony Stratford as the direct route from Northampton was closed necessitating a time consuming detour. Being almost local, however, IanD arrived slightly ahead of time only to be told that there was no record of our booking! As the restaurant was pretty quiet there was no problem finding a table when the rest of the party finally arrived. The dining area is divided from the waiting area by an L shaped wall with the tables in the smoking section further isolated by being in booths. Without consultation, we were shown to a table in the smoking area despite there being plenty of space elsewhere. Although the general atmosphere was pleasant, with clean modern decor (and the obligatory fake plants), we did feel a bit confined and had difficulty in attracting the attention of the waiters unless they were actually passing our table.
For starters we ordered sheek kebabs and onion bhajis. The kebabs were tiny, there were two in each portion but each one was about half the size of those found in other restaurants. We were disappointed that they didn't arrive on a sizzler but they were very spicy and very tasty. There were two largish ball shaped bhajees in each portion. The shells were quite crisp, perhaps a little overcooked. They seemed quite hollow inside and the filling was slightly moist, verging on pasty and a bit on the bland side.
The Balti Chicken Masalah was red. The sauce had quite a twang with lots of tender pieces of chicken. The Balti Chicken Garlic came in a balti dish and had largish chicken pieces in a spicy, thick fairly red sauce with lots of coriander sprinkled on top. Unfortunately, the sauce wasn't very tasty and we found no evidence of the garlic suggested by the dish's title. The Balti Chicken (tikka but not described as such) Jalfrezi had a superb thick sauce with plenty of chilies and coriander. The menu suggested that it was medium hot, but HOT would have been more accurate. All the baltis were nan-inclusive and this time we all opted for the plain variety rather than engage in negotiations with the waiter for an upgrade. The nans were chopped in half (why?) and the texture was generally good. The Chicken Malaya was a mild slightly sweet dish with chunks of pineapple - these could be tasted but didn't swamp the dish. It was good but not exceptional. The accompanying rice was luke warm at best. JohnH had dumped his main dish on it before he realised otherwise it would have been dispatched to the kitchen to be nuked for an extra minute. We washed all this down with lager. Being bottled, the Cobra was fine. However, the Kingfisher had a strange taste. Next time we'll risk the Carlsberg.
There were three varieties of kulfi on offer and they were all available. The pistachio and malai were both very tasty but the mango had a strong flowery smell which was a bit overwhelming. All three were quite difficult to eat with only a fork provided. The coffee was reasonably good although we weren't tempted by the floater coffee. With a name like that, who would be?
The service at Akber's was quite efficient and the staff were sort of friendly but a bit aloof. They seemed a bit suspicious of IanD as he waited in the cramped waiting area (who wouldn't be?). We were a bit concerned about our booking going astray but it may have been a result of lack of communication between the lunchtime and evening staff. Having said that, a second visit to Akber's is certainly on the cards
Which gives an overall rating of 3.5 bhajis.