Thursday, 8 November 2012
Aagrah: The review.
Okay, so I grew up in the hospitality business, restaurant kitchens were my playground. Some of my earliest memories are in my Dhada's restaurant - running around the customers, messing up the cutlery, all the staff giving me almond slices, the bar girls making me my drink (lemonade and lime cordial with a green straw and a pink umbrella) and my favourite memory of all is my Dhada picking me up, putting me on the bar, feeding me my very first cashew nuts and making me laugh for hours on end. My entire family on both sides are food lovers through and through which makes it hard to stay a size 6 ;)
What I am trying to stress is that I pretend to know what a restaurant should be. I am the worst person to eat out with because all I actually do is sit and scrutinize everything - it's a nightmare.
This is me after having eaten some really hot salad and my face wasn't working properly.
Btw that's the reflection of the place in the background.
Sooooooooooooooooooooooooo... Aagrah... I am ready to do my worst.
So I will give you are play-by-play of our evening...
Walking up to the restaurant you can't help but notice the mooooohoooosiiiive BBC sign above the beautiful panoramic view of the main area and bar, instantly you begin to envisage all the glitz and glam of the media world - news reporters laughing and showing a different to themselves, tv stars reenacting scenes and producers talking shop. You are greeted with a traditionally dressed doorman who seems so lovely, I genuinely wanted to hug him - he reminded me of Princess Jasmine's Dad... in the best possible way... Oh I hope he doesn't read this... I meant it in a nice way though.
We were then passed on to a very nice man who seated us straight away at a table we requested upon arrival - a window table... I like windows :) He left us with the menus and that's when it went a little down hill... According to one of the MANY waiters (believe me there is a reason why I put MANY as MANY, there are far to many of them and I WILL come back to that... I like putting words in capital letters... HEE HEE... Sorry) this Aagrah had been there for the past six years... The menus told a different story. It wasn't what was in them; it was simply how they looked. They just need replacing. It's the first thing you are giving to the customer... It should reflect your establishment or is it just me? They looked like a teddy that you stopped loving a few years back - ragged and in need of love. The tables were far to over crowded with just stuff. Plates, menus, glasses and a napkin that was folded in the most generic way. I'll put it into perspective the table we were sat at was originally set out for 4; when we came, the other two placements were cleared and it still seemed like there was just too much going on. Okay, then we ordered our drinks, poppadoms and chutney tray - they took awhile tbh but I had this...
It was a rasberry, cranberry fusion thing and it was soooooooooo yummy as you can tell :)
We started timing how long service took as a game after a while and the shortest time was 4 and a half minutes when they were moderately busy to about 10 minutes when they had just about every table packed out. We nom-ed slightly greasy poppadoms (my husband said just fried ones are a little greasy... I've had just fried poppadoms and they aren't greasy tbh like literally I have been sat on one of the long deep freezers and handed one just after its been fried... Greasy.. that's a funny word.)
The mango chutney was odd - it had too much of some seed in it - I think it was.. umm oh, shit- I can only remember the Bengali name... Kali jeera... wait lemme wiki it... I think it's black caraway seeds... I feel dumb now. Anyway, there was a favourite of my husband's - chopped onions in what he said was tomato sauce... I love him even with onion breath lol. Their mint sauce? I loved - it was yummy, sharp and just great, you would be surprised how hard it actually is to get it right but they did! They had a chili sauce thing that I am pretty sure had tamarind in it and that made my face happy. So far okay, right?
We leafed through the if-I-had-T-rex-arms-this-would-be-perfect menus and I loved boring writing but the layout was easy to follow. The little explantions of each dish were good, the menu was diverse and had everything you need plus a little more. We both had Lashen Mushrooms for starters, which was this:
I had to admit the presentation was disappointing. The description was so promising - grilled mushrooms with garlic, herbs, ginger, lime and green chilies served with salad. I thought it was going to be two of those umm... Portabello(?) mushrooms but nope... They tasted okay. Idk my husband didn't like them.
My husband ordered the Lahori Chargha for main- he loved it tbh I have rarely seen him so quiet, the only problem he had was the seriously random cuts of chicken; some with just bone, some perfect chunks and others were small. That may just sound like I'm being picky but it also does have an effect on the presentation slightly plus implicates eating it - do you want a bit of bone sticking out of your gum? He also - between mouthfuls of food commented on the portion size; they were actually really good). Little me had THIS:
I liked it... for the first couple of minutes. It does look epic. The salad was so yummy! The courgette was cook just enough but the aubergine was under-cooked, the peppers was nice, the little mound of rice tasted like a... well it tasted a lot like the mango chutney - it had a lot of black caraway seeds (?) and if that's that spice you like then yum! But I made a face and then did this:
Is it me or does it look like I have a moustache? LOL
As you can see my drink was finished so I ordered an apple fizzer...It was more apple than fizz until I drunk half of it, but it was a yummy mocktail.
Then we started to get a little bored so we had a look around. Things started getting a little dire... Lemme go back to my mentioning of the waiting staff... Urgh, just urgh. There are a few rules of front of house that must be adhered to at all times as far as I am concerned:
- Do not be loitering around in groups when you aren't busy.
You should position yourselves around the room at equal intervals so the whole floor is covered and attended to. If that isn't possible then okay stand together but don't have your own little party. The entire time I was there the service was really quite slow and it seemed like there were too many staff on the floor with not much to do. The amount of times I looked up and saw just a group of staff near the kitchen door looking like Asian Blazin' Squad was ridiculous.
- Don't speak in another language. It's rude. The customers don't understand what you are saying and it can make them uncomfortable. I understand a few Asian dialects but I didn't like it.
- Be in sync with the rest of the team. Everyone seemed to be doing their own thing. One guy after being asked to clear the chutney tray from our table did so, then random got us another one, a few minutes later another one popped up and took it away. Why make a job? It saves times being on the same page. One guy - I didn't catch his tag- but he had a Swarovski pen (! LOL), he seemed to be doing the most and seemed to be the happiest about it.
- Clear a table before you serve the next course. There shouldn't be someone clearing and someone serving at the same time. It looks messy and is slightly confusing for the customers. The table next to us has this hitch - a beautiful table of blonde ladies (seriously they were all blonde - it was like a Reese Witherspoon convention) and they just looked at one another as the charade went on.
- NEVER (yes, I capitalised it, oh yeah, I went there) use a hand gesture on a customer. If a customer uses one on you and that isn't the conduct of your restaurant then have your Maitre d'hotel deal with it politely, between a close-knit team if they are okay with it then again it's cool but on a customer that is like... really bad (I'm too shocked to put anything else).
- Okay the next one is kinda sexist but here we go. Do not have women working in an Asian establishment. Just don't do it. Seriously, it just distracts the boys and it degrading for the girl. She is subjected to all sorts of snide and dirty comments and the worst bit is she won't even know it. And lo! behold I saw exactly why I know it is a bad idea when I was there - they have a lovely, polite, pretty, young girl who is evidently good at her job but she was a distraction, plain and simply. My husband- who thinks I'm just a chauvinist and doesn't really agree with this notion - actually had to agree with me for once. I know I should be all for it because I'm a women and women should stick together and my Maa is an awesome business women but I just cannot do it. Sorry, ladies!
Okay, having said all of that slating I have to admit that they were super helpful when around and we never felt rushed. They cleaned and set tables straight after a customer had left and I loved their uniform - it was smart and well suited to the restaurant.
Okay then we got really bored and did this:
See if you can spot the onion rings and the smiley face.
Yes, that is an onion ring on the flower.
And then this... :/
Hee hee... Jasmindar has green hair.
Then we got back to food and talking about the layout... I use layout in the loosest sense. It was then I realized how claustrophobic it was, the tables don't seem to have an order and you know you have like a centre piece, right? You know a piece of art or whatever that goes in the centre... Nope.. They have three... They have what appeared to be 4 very short, stumpy light boxes and either side of it are... Well... Umm... weird fake metal palm tree things... Umm have a look, here:
You can't see the proper gay tree trunk but there is one.
Personally, if they really had to use that thing they should have just used the leaves and branches but had it as a unique type of chandelier-y-thing, with the proper lighting it would look like an awesome centre piece.
Also they had so many random things like this:
Why is there a stork? WTF has a stork got to do with anything? T-T"
And what the Hell was up with all the different types of flower? Dead Freesias, Orchids, Giant Daisy things and just, just basically an entire florist. Oh and yes, it did say DEAD. I checked the tables I could see from my table... There were dying flower on each of the tables. D-i-s-a-p-p-o-i-n-t-i-n-g.
My husband was joking that the person who designed it just sort of went in to a store and said "I'll have one of those, one of those... umm, that... oh and one stork that looks like it wants to leave... ten of those lights..." It's then I looked over at the bar... and then back at the main area... Then back to the bar... then again back to the main area. They didn't match. Like they could constitute as two very nice different rooms in two different places I felt there was no fusion between the two. They are both nice in their own right but don't complement each other which I think is a shame. I loved the bar- genuinely. I did love the bar, it was different and just really imposing and just it looked like a bar should... okay that didn't sound as good as it did in my head...
Anyways... getting back to the food... We finished and the table was cleared and I ordered dessert... I like desserts, sweet things make me happy :) I was handed the dessert menu... And well.. Okay let me first explain that my Maa has a 25 seater restaurant in the middle of freaking no where and her desserts are far more diverse and interesting. I was really disappointed. I didn't expect something so generic and boring, it was like any other Asian restaurant - and as far as I have read they like to make sure there are "personal touches". I'm pretty sure if you contact a desserts provider and ask for good desserts they will give you that list -don't get me wrong it's good but it is boring and standard, when you go to Aagrah you do not expect ordinary at all- they have shot themselves in the foot with having BBC plastered above their own sign; you just want it to be a little different.
Anyways, I made my choice. A sticky toffee pudding which... looked like this...
... After I had eaten all of it because it was so yummy :B
You know what? Even though I have bitched about this so so so much tbh me and the mister had a great time. We did, seriously! Granted it was mostly because we made our own fun but still we had a great time. But it was a good night and I would go... no okay, that's lying and I recently make a promise I wouldn't lie anymore but yeah, I would recommend it to anyone who may enjoy it! Definitely :/
Okay so that was my review on Aagrah and yeah! I got stuff to get on with so Bye!!!