We read the publicity for the newly opened Café Ganges with disbelief. "Modern, trendy, bright and vibrant with seven colours in the restaurant" it said. We ask you! How can you have a decent curry with no flock wallpaper? What about the fake plants? We just had to try it to see what all the fuss was about. We'd originally booked a table for twenty but about two hours before we were due to arrive we dropped it by four. This was accepted without the usual acrimony. In the end, due to IanD's appalling maths, eighteen of us poured through the door and the staff were quite happy to rustle up an extra table. Popadoms arrived almost as soon as we were seated and the drinks orders taken swiftly. There was a bit of indecision but again the staff didn't mind when, after they'd been pulled, pints of lager were swapped for bottles of Cobra. There was a bit of a delay before our food order was taken.
We had to start with some Onion Bhajis. These were close to perfect - crunchy outside and slightly chewy inside. We'd never heard of an Anguri Kebab (charcoal grilled chicken in a grape marinade, apparently) but were extremely pleased to make its acquaintance even if the portion was a bit on the small side. The Chicken & Fruit Chaat Delight also had an excellent flavour and this time there was plenty of it. The Tawa Machli claimed to be freshwater fish but seemed just like haddock in a slightly spicy sauce. Nevertheless, it tasted pretty good.
We'd never tried a Chicken Bakara so it was an obvious choice (particularly for IanD!). Its sauce was very thick and spicy with tender pieces of chicken. The chunks were a bit on the large side and overall the portion was pretty small. It was in the hot and exotic section of the menu but seemed pretty mild. In the same section was Chicken Chilli Massalla, and this time quite rightly. This was well hot and spicy with a very generous helping of red and green chillies. The Garlic Chicken Bhuna was a rarity in that it was exactly how a bhuna should be - the medium spiced gravy was very thick and dry, none of that watery fayre dished up by lesser chefs. Billed on the menu as having a medium sauce, the Duck Syhletti turned out to be a bit too hot for HazelB but was quickly devoured by the gannets around the table (can gannets eat duck?) who all declared it to be very nice if somewhat overpriced! The Balti Chicken was deemed to be very good by Milton Keynes' standards (damned by faint praise?) and MikeE was heard to say it was one of the best he'd had - outside Coventry. The Chicken Tikka Passanda was skilfully spiced and there was plenty of sauce. The Sag Aloo Bhaji side dish was damn near perfect with chillies a-plenty as an added bonus (can a bonus be subtracted?) The nans were the usual mixed bag - some were excellent, particularly the plain and peshwari. Both the garlic and keema were a bit thin and brittle but although there was plenty of garlic, IanD sent out a search party to find his keema! The portions of rice were also pretty good.
It's safe to say that we were quite impressed by the Café Ganges. The service was mostly prompt and any delays were probably down to the size of our group. The waiters were very courteous and attentive, always on hand but not obviously hanging about, er waiting. The bright décor (we didn't actually count the colours but there probably were seven) meant that we could actually see what we were eating - other restaurateurs may like to take note! Some of the dishes were a bit on the pricey side but the takeaway menu had a bunch of money-off coupons attached and the tight northerners in the group were quite impressed that we were able to use a few to reduce our bill by £55! A very welcome addition to the local curry scene.
Which gives an overall rating of 4 bhajis.