Sunday, 8 August 2010

Restaurant Review: Masala Zone - Covent Garden.

A couple of weeks ago I took my best friend to watch Thriller Live (will blog about this soon) at the Lyric Theatre (for her birthday) in London and the day finished with some Indian food at Masala Zone which is located in Covent Garden - although they have many other branches scattered around London. The unique thing about Masala Zone is that all their restaurants are different! Each restaurant focuses on a certain part of India which is then reflected through the interior design and food.
The Covent Garden restaurant had a focus on Rajasthan where there were several puppets hanging from the ceiling which I thought looked delightful! It was very packed when we arrived, with about 10 people in front of us waiting to be seated. We decided to wait it out as we were already so intent on having Indian for dinner (we're usually very impatient and will leave if there is a hint of a queue!)...but we were then seated within 5 minutes! I later realised that the restaurant was much larger than I thought - and with a downstairs seating area.Apart from the hanging puppets, I really liked the puce pink painted walls and porthole mirrors. Seating was simple, comfortable, and the tables were a generous size (don't you hate when they're teeny tiny?).
In regards to the actual meal, my friend opted for 'thali' which I'd never heard of before but it is "...a large stainless steel platter with an array of small bowls with the focus on vegetables." It looked nice but I decided to go for what I always go for when having an Indian - chicken tikka masala... I know I know, it's so typical!! However, to my horror, they didn't have it?!?! I was shocked because I thought it was a typical Indian dish (or am I just being ignorant?) and also because they were of course called 'Masala Zone'! Anyway, I asked the waiter if they did it (in case I missed it on the menu) but they didn't because of the 'theme' of the restaurant, which was completely understandable! I then asked what the chicken tikka masala equivalent was, and he recommended the 'Butter Chicken', so I went for it!
Our dishes came within 10 minutes (not sure if that is a good or bad thing?!) and I tucked into my Butter Chicken...which looked but tasted nothing like chicken tikka masala - but this is completely my fault, I mean... it's not called chicken tikka masala so why would it be right?! It was nice but maybe too 'bland' for what I wanted from an Indian dish...I guess what I really want from Indian food is an explosion of taste!
I definitely would not get the Butter Chicken again, but highly recommend it for those who prefer milder Indian food. My best friend loved her thali, and I have to admit that it did look interesting, but most of it was cold which is a downside for me as I wouldn't feel satisfied with a meal unless it was piping hot!
Overall, I would definitely go back to Masala Zone, but possibly asking the waiter what the particular branch specialised in, rather than finding an equivalent of what I am used to eating! Pricing is very decent for what you get, I couldn't fault the service one bit, everyone seemed so happy and eager to please but without being over-bearing! We were probably only asked twice if our meals were OK, which was actually done at great timing as we used it as an opportunity to get more drinks (I had the Apple & Pear juice which is delicious!)...but then again they probably timed it for that exact same reason too!
I might take a photo of my future dish next time, but I always think food is so hard to photograph and never looks like how you want it to when you upload it!
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