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 Moghul Palace, Stony Stratford
 Monday, 1 October 2001
  restaurant factfile
  also reviewed 12 July 2006

Our trip to the Rajdhani had restored our faith in the curry buffet so we just had to sample the fayre on offer at the Moghul Palace, the only Stony Stratford venue which we had so far not reviewed. The Moghul is located in an old chapel and many of the original features such as the oak panelling have been retained. Many new features have been added such as the elaborate murals and ceiling art -ripped from the Sistine Chapel, according to the restaurant's own publicity, although they do take a more laid back approach to art forgery. There's a sumptuous waiting area with huge leather sofas situated just below the smoking area both of which were quite deserted this particular evening - and no wonder as everyone had opted to sit in the non-smoking area for easy access to the buffet. The only empty table was reserved - fortunately by us!

The choice of starters was quite limited. It was with great disbelief that we found there were no onion bhajis on offer and our credulity was stretched further when we found the sheek kebabs were also missing! Without these yardsticks, how could we make a fair comparison? There were plenty of pakoras - both chicken and vegetarian and on both the batter had gone soft and mushy after sitting out for some time. Nevertheless, they were quite tasty. The samosas had a similarly soggy feel but again the flavour was OK. Highlight of the starters was the chicken tikka - nicely cooked and flavoursome. The selection of salads was a bit ropey but at least there was a limitless supply of splatter.

On the main course front there was a choice of two chicken, one lamb, one prawn and three veggie dishes (which also doubled up as side orders). Although having that unmistakable Chicken Bhuna taste, this particular version had a very thin gravy (a bit like Oxo stock) rather than the expected lush, thick sauce. What we at first assumed to be tomato soup turned out to be Chicken Tikka Massalla - and if the waiter hadn't told us, we wouldn't have guessed from sampling the dish. The Lamb Balti was average at best and we can only assume that those who had sampled it before us had taken most of the meat as it looked more like a veggie dish. The Prawn Bengal was (as SteveB so eloquently described) horrible - the prawns tasted as if they'd come straight from Grimsby docks without being cleaned. The Mushroom Chat was pretty awful. The Bombay Aloo was edible but severely lacking in quality. The only dish of any class was the Vegetable Jalfrezi - it resembled a hot pot but was extremely spicy, too spicy for many but that's what you expect from a Jalfrezi. To help mop up the surfeit of gravy there were some slightly rubbery plain nans, some plain boiled rice and (unusually) egg fried rice all of which were perfectly average.

As with the Rajdhani, the desert selection was a little disappointing - not a single curry house favourite in sight! There was a surfeit of warm tinned fruit salad and occasionally we caught glimpses of what looked like Tesco's value gateau and a jug of fresh cream. It was a bit like being in the Woolworth's café.

Very few diners opted out of the buffet but those who did seemed to get better food and service. Our plates weren't cleared away very often so at times we struggled for space. The waiters were very keen (at times over keen) to provide beers with both Laltoofan and Kingfisher available at the start of the evening. This wasn't the worst buffet we'd sampled but the quality of the food fell well below the usual standard of the Moghul Palace. This buffet is worth a try - they probably do different dishes each week. One piece of advice - if the Chicken Tikka Massalla's on the menu, take your waders and a net and be prepared for a fishing expedition.

The Scores

Food3
Service3.5
Ambience4
Value3.5

Which gives an overall rating of 3.5 bhajis.