This was a first for us - a second review of a restaurant we'd never visited before! For what seems like years, the Jaipur had been promising to open its new premises and the day had finally arrived. We'd turned down invitations to the celebrity gala opening night in favour of an incognito visit a couple of days later. The new venue is very impressive looking from the outside and lavishly decorated within. On arrival, you are invited to leave your coats with the attendant who points you in the direction of the waiting area. Here, drinks are served whilst you peruse the menu. Surprisingly, there was none of the cheaper draught beers available, only bottled Cobra and Kingfisher at £4 a bottle. Both were served so barely chilled they'd almost reached boiling point by the time we were shown to the large seating area divided into 3 sections to make the place feel smaller and more intimate (the words cramped and poky were bandied about).
A few of us had opted for the 3 course set meal option. This included popadoms and pickles inexplicably served at the same time as the starters - Aloo Matar ki Tikki (sort of mildly-spiced potatoes- quite pleasant but not enough of them); Sunheri Samosa (stuffed with a few chicken tikka pieces and an abundance of sweet corn); Sheek Kebab (tasty and very spicy) and Aijwaini Macchi (cube of swordfish - pick of the bunch, we could have done with more of them!). Other starters sampled included some spiced mashed potato cakes which were "Very tasty and creatively displayed but a disappointing amount".
The four main dishes for the set meal were i) Murg Tikka Masala - tender chicken pieces, in a tasty sauce complete with a cream swirl; ii) Mangalore Chicken - the sauce had an overwhelming coconut taste; iii) Lal Maas - surprisingly tender lamb pieces, in a tasty but very hot sauce. And iv) Lamb Shahi Korma - again tender lamb pieces in a mild sauce resembling cream of mushroom soup with some floaters - very pleasant once we'd managed to banish the image! The portions were pretty hefty with plenty of meat, the lamb being particularly well cooked. All of the dishes could have done with spicing up a little. The Tandoori half chicken was from the smallest chicken we've seen but otherwise well cooked and presented. We had a variety of side dishes (part of the set meal) Saag Meloni (ok if you like spinach), Dal Tarka (more like thin lentil soup) and Jeera Aloo (not overly spicy). However, by not being served on hot plates with none of the traditional plate warmers, all the dishes soon lost their warmth. We had tons of rice - particularly when the second helping arrived. However, the set meal only allowed for half a tiny nan each. The Vegetarian Thali was beautifully served on the family silver platter - quite enjoyable (apart from a revolting herby dumpling in tomato soup!) but not worth £12.
After all the hype and anticipation, the new Jaipur was bound to be a let down but we didn't expect it to be such a huge disappointment. The food wasn't too bad but once again, the general consensus was that it was nowhere near good enough to justify the extortionate prices. The staff seemed to have little clue about anything other than trying to push overpriced bottles of lukewarm beer. The service could definitely be improved, which will hopefully happen in a few months when the waiters have more experience - for instance heating up the wet towels would be good, as would remembering to bring out the mints without prompting. Like it or not, a service charge of 10% is added to the bill (this is mentioned in tiny print on the menu) - probably because no one would leave anything otherwise! And where were the onion bhajis?
Which gives an overall rating of 3 bhajis.