So many have told me about how good Sharma is, so thought I’d take a look as had someone special with me, and to be honest I was disappointed.
So here is how it went…
We arrived late (the place was not sign posted and as such had to ask a police officer for directions) however, upon arrival the staff were friendly, and did not even mention being late. We were given a scrap piece of paper with ‘x2′ on it and told to go to the roof, where we were seen by another waitress which ushered to a nice table on the roof balcony. After we were seated the waitress retrieved 2 unbound paper menus which were on good quality paper but well used. We were not offered a drink (even water.)
After deciding what we wanted to eat we placed our menus closed on the table and waited for service, 10 minutes later I motioned to the waitress and asked for the wine list who then asked if we had chosen what to eat. I chose the wine, and was told a few minutes later that it was unavailable, so expecting this to be re-occuring asked which wines were in stock, of the four sweet white wines I was told only one was available, I ordered that. We ordered food, I asked if they had a selection of pickles and/or lime pickle, only to be told, sorry only Mango Chutney was available with the popadoms.
The wine arrived, and was a very good quality ‘Asti’, however it was obvious the waitress had not been taught to open wine as part of service and had some trouble getting the bottle open. The wine was also warm/unchilled, and it was served as is. I had to motion to another waiter and ask about chilling the Atsi, he returned with an ice bucket (needless to say only the last glass of wine was actually chilled.)
Shortly there after, another waiter arrived with some fresh bread and a garlic and yogurt based dip, this was absolutely delicious and I thought all would be well after the initial hiccup. The popadoms and chutney arrived, they were slightly overcooked on one side, and undercooked on the other. They were completely flat and very obviously had been prepared on a dry hotplate or similar, the chutney whilst very nice, was straight out of a bottle from the local supermarket.
Service was again well presented. The items ordered, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Lamb Rogan Josh, plain basmati rice and a Plain and Garlic Naan. The curries were served in Karahi dishes as expected and the contents of similar look to how I have seen in other places with one notable exception. The Lamb Rogan Josh was a light tan in colour rather than the darker brown I have experienced around the world, tasting it answered the question as to why. It was not cooked well, and certainly had not been simmered for the usual hour or more, it had the taste and consistency of all the ingredients being placed in a blender, and then thrown into a fry pan where the lamb was, brought to the boil and served within 5 minutes. The fat on the lamb was neither cooked at a high temperature (ie no initial browning of the meat) and was not infused with flavour at all. The chicken similarly I suspect had not been allowed to marinate before preparation as it was pure white. Both dishes were marked as ‘Medium spicy’ and in both cases I have had spicier Chicken Korma – there was very little spice in either dish.
The Naan bread arrived within a minute of the main course and was cut into very small pieces. The plain Naan looked identical to the Garlic Naan which seemed to be covered in melted butter/ghee on one side and very flat. The underside was dry and slightly burned, but not in the way Naan prepared in a Tandoor normally appears, I surmised incorrectly that the restaurant didn’t actually possess a tandoor, and the Naan had been prepared on a hotplate in a similar way to I suspected the popadoms had been. On the way out I was proved wrong and spotted not one, but two tandoors in the kitchen area, both of which were dark and were mostly closed with lids three quarters of the way covered I didn’t see any fumes or staff looking in them so have no idea if they were actually being used.
At the end of main course we waited around 20-30 minutes before we called the waitress for desert menus/service.
We ordered traditional Kulfi/Khulfi ice cream. This was a thin slice of a pre-prepared/bought block chilled to around -24C so absolutely rock solid and taking pieces was extremely difficult. It was very very ‘green’ and spicy (it was more spicy than the Chicken Tikka Masarla and Lamb Rogan Josh) and not like any I had previously tasted.
Prices for everything, including their wines was very low. Three courses for two people with a bottle of wine, €55.20.
Most notable thought: (1/10) I have never ever been served a sparkling wine or Asti at room temperature in my life…
Quality of Food: (2/10) Disappointing with the quality of fast food rather than a classy restaurant.
Price: (5/10) Cheap
Staff/Service: (6/10) Well presented, but at times seemed not to know what they were doing. Very helpful and polite when you have their attention.
Atmosphere/Ambience/Decor: (10/10) Excellent
Overall: If it wasn’t for the atmosphere, the excellent company and great conversation I would have been extremely disappointed therefore my scores.. Total (counted) 4.8/10, total (my thought) 3/10 as if it wasn’t for the excellent ambience the actual total would be 2.8/10. I think I’ll stick to the Emperor of India in Paceville/St Julians in future.
Additional Info: Whilst eating we over heard 2 separate complaints about the quality of the food from other customers to the staff.