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 Simply India, Newport Pagnell
 Tuesday, 27 November 2001
  restaurant factfile

We'd never visited Abdul's Indian restaurant before simply because until a couple of days beforehand it had only been a takeaway. An advert for their special opening offer (£5.95 for starter, main dish and rice/nan) caught skinflint IanD's eye and, fearing that if we delayed, we'd miss it a trip was hastily arranged. We arrived to find that the 'restaurant' was in fact four tables squeezed into what had previously been a video games shop next to the takeaway. The heating left a lot to be desired, some would go so far as to say the room was chanking. No surprise as there was only a single radiator by the old door, the entire output of which was blocked by PhilS's fat arse! Despite having booked for 5 people, we were seated around a circular table about the size of a bar stool which would have been more appropriate for 2, even then it would have been a bit of a squeeze! At first, the waiter denied all knowledge of any special offers but when pressed offered something similar - the starter in the ad being replaced by a veggie side dish. Further negotiation led to the original offer being restored to its entirety. And a good thing too! Whilst we made our choices, popadoms and splatter were provided without request but the cheeky gits added them to the bill at the end!

Being the greedy sods that we are, 4 of us opted for the most expensive starter - the Tandoori Mix. This consisted of half a mega-spicy sheek kebab, couple of chicken pieces (very tender), and a bit of lamb (quite tough but probably as tender as lamb tikka gets) - all very nice but the portions were very small. We'd like to think that this was due to our choosing the cheap set price dinner option - we'd have been disappointed if this was what you get for the full price. JezC opted for the Aloo Chop a sort of spicy potato fritter - very tasty and not too hot.

The Chicken Tikka Masala had plenty of meat, but the sauce was just a bit too red and sweet and sickly - didn't go very well with the lager! This was served with plenty of well-cooked boiled rice. As befits the name, the Chicken Balti came in a copper bucket - the literal translation of balti being bucket. The portion was huge - plenty of peppers, onions and tomatoes in a sublimely tasty sauce. The Chicken Pathia was excellent, one of the best pathias yet, a good sized portion with plenty of meat. The sauce was well spiced and also fruity. Chicken was well cooked but not as good as the starter. There seemed to be an excess of garlic in the Chicken Tikka Bhuna but the sauce was luvvly and thick. The Garlic Chicken had tender chicken chunks in a tasty thick sauce, though only a little taste of garlic. Hmmm, Bhuna with loads of garlic and a garlic dish with the main ingredient lacking. Er, could the dishes have been mixed up? Nevertheless, both were pretty good. The accompanying nans (one of which was originally forgotten) were a bit on the doughy side but acceptable enough.

The service was excellent and the staff very friendly. Once we'd got the mix up about the special offer sorted we had a very pleasant evening, although why they go to the expense of taking out newspaper ads if they're not going to believe you've seen them is a mystery. We were pleasantly surprised to find Cobra on draught, another couple of weeks and they'll have got the hang of serving it without a two inch thick head. Investing in bigger tables might be an idea or, at the very least, pushing two together for groups of more than two or three would be a start. The only negative point was dishing out popadoms without asking and then adding them to the bill. However, the only losers were the staff as we would have rounded the bill up to a tenner each with or without the pops so we ended up leaving a smaller tip. Having said that, we wouldn't rule out a future visit!

The Scores

Food4
Service4.5
Ambience4
Value4.5

Which gives an overall rating of 4 bhajis.

DishRatingBy
Chicken Tikka Bhuna4IanD
Chicken Tikka Masala3.5JezC
Chicken Tikka Balti4.5MikeE
Chicken Pathia4.5PhilS
Garlic Chicken4SteveB