After a 2 month break, and with our 3rd anniversary approaching, we thought it was time to get back to the serious business of reviewing curries. To mark this occasion, we revisited the Café Ganges, although this time to try their '5 courses' for £9.95 offer. The 5 courses available were a starter, main dish, vegetable side dish, nan or rice, and coffee. There were a few dishes excluded from this offer, mainly king prawn and the likes.
Despite being a little over 2 years old, it has undergone a revamp inside since our last visit, most noticeable being the enlarged kitchen area with access added to the upstairs where the toilets are now situated. Perhaps the air conditioning unit was also new, as it seemed colder inside than out which meant some had to keep their jackets on throughout the meal.
Popadoms were declined more than once, and eventually drinks orders were taken. Large bottles of Cobra and Kingfisher were available at a cheapish restaurant price of £3.50. The food orders were then taken, but it was an hour after our arrival before we saw any of the food. Like the restaurant, the starters weren't particularly warm either. The mixed grill was a popular choice, being made up of a sheek kebab, tandoori chicken and tandoori lamb. The kebabs weren't very spicy but nevertheless tasted OK. The chicken was extremely tender and tasty, unlike the lamb, which was overdone and rather dry. The sheek kebabs ordered on their own as a starter weren't particularly large and didn't arrive on a sizzler, although they were quite tasty. The onion bhajis however were of a reasonable size and crisp, nicely spiced but quite mild. The mixed puree consisted of chicken, prawns and potatoes in a sauce that had an excellent taste although the bread wasn't as crisply fried as stated on the menu. And finally, you couldn't go far wrong with the vegetable samosas, which were well presented. Some starters didn't come with a salad, and was fairly sparse with those that did.
Two chicken bhunas were ordered, one being a garlic variation which is probably why it was 'nicely garlicky' with large, but not many, pieces of chicken in a nicely coloured sauce. The non-garlic variety had a tasty thick sauce with tender chicken pieces in a not particularly large portion. Surprisingly, the Chana Biran consisted of a lot of chickpeas in a mild sauce with plenty of coriander. Lots of tender chicken and tomatoes made up the Chicken Rogan Josh, which tasted good. The final two dishes we suspect were mixed up - Chicken Jalfraisy and Chicken Green Masalla. You become suspicious when the Jalfraisy is much greener than the 'Green' dish. Neither were as hot as expected and the Jalfraisy lacked any whole chillies (not sure if that is a good point or not). The green masalla was unusually minty. They both continued the theme of having well cooked and well flavoured chicken, but a bit on the small side. The side dishes were generally a good hit, with the Bombay Potatoes being the overall favourite as they were cooked to a lovely consistency (firm texture and not sludgy around the edges) and gently spiced - pretty damn good. The Special Vegetable Curry was in fact nothing special, being fairly mild, but nevertheless edible. The Bhindi Barjee was a bit of a let down as it seemed to be made up of finely chopped okra and coriander, but not cooked and no sauce.
Plain, Mushroom, Pilau and Special Fried Rice were all tried. Unfortunately for the vegetarian, the special rice contained small pieces of meat, but otherwise was considered good. The plain and pilau rice was thought to be average whereas the mushroom rice was nicely cooked and generally very tasty.
To finish off, coffee was also included as part of the deal, but they weren't very forthcoming with it.
There were two main problems with the evening, the first being the temperature - both the restaurant itself and the food. Despite plate warmers being provided, the food lacked any great amount of heat, which is a shame as the food was generally thought to be very good. Secondly, despite not being very busy, service was appallingly slow with our visit lasting nearly 3 hours. The Café Ganges is definitely worth a visit for the quality of the food, but either leave your visit until the summer months, or bring your hat and gloves.
Which gives an overall rating of 3.5 bhajis.