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Monday, 4 September 2017

Restaurant Review - The Dhabba, Candleriggs, Glasgow

We don't eat out at Indian restaurants often but when we do, we always enjoy it. I'm not sure why that is, especially when Glasgow has so many top quality Indian restaurants to choose from. So when we were invited to try out the new menu at The Dhabba in Glasgow's Merchant City, we were quick to arrange a date.
The Dhabba has been on the go for over 14 years, specialising in the flavours and food of North India. The recent menu changes, the first time the menu had been changed in seven years, were timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Indian Independence Day on August 15th. It just so happened that my birthday falls on the same day so we decided to turn the day into a double celebration.
Located on the corner of Candleriggs and Bell Street, the restaurant has a modern contemporary feel with floor to ceiling windows filling the dining area with natural light. We arrived around 6pm on a Tuesday evening and although the restaurant was fairly quiet, it wasn't long before the waiting staff were put through their paces as the restaurant began to get rather busy for a midweek evening.
We were welcomed warmly to The Dhabba by co-owner Peet who talked us through some of the changes to the menu and made sure that we were well looked after during our visit. The service from all of the staff was friendly and efficient although it only took a short time to realise that customer service plays an important part in The Dhabba's success over the years, as there were a number of diners in that evening who were obviously regulars and well known to Peet and his staff.
To celebrate Indian Independence Day, The Dhabba had teamed up with Kingfisher and were giving away free pints of India's favourite lager however as I'm not drinking beer until my holiday to Lanzarote, we shared a well priced bottle of Airen-Chardonnay from Campo Azafrán. The wine list carries a good range of choice with prices starting from just £17.95 with well priced Chablis, Sancerre and Châteauneuf-du-pape also available for those that know their grapes.
Some of the changes to the menu sees Chaat Pakodi, a selection of traditional Indian Street Food items being introduced. These little bite size treats are the perfect balance of sour, sweet, tangy, crunchy and spicy and so moreish!
We decided to share a couple of dishes starting with Gol Gappa Chaat, intricate little balls of crispy puffed bread filled with spice potato, chickpeas, yogurt and laced with freshly ground cumin. Wow! What a way to start - these chaat were packed with flavour as well as plenty of hidden spice too. I can just imagine sitting on a hot summers day with a plate of these and an ice cold Kingfisher to wash the down.
Our other starter was Banjara Murg, drumsticks of chicken marinated in black pepper before being grilled over charcoal. We both love black pepper so knew that we would enjoy this dish. I'm not sure what else was in the marinade but the chicken had a depth of flavour and tasted great with the black pepper dominating the taste buds. This was simple cooking done well and was an eye opener to how things are done at The Dhabba.
When it comes to Indian cuisine, Nicola tends to stick to tandoori style dishes and tonight was no different as she opted for the Achari Tikka, chicken breast pieces that had been coated with a very spicy seasoning before being slowly over the slow burning wooden charcoals. Chicken breast can often end up dry when it is introduced to the intense heat of the tandoori oven but the team at The Dhabba have this cooking style down to a tee. The chicken was still moist and juicy, packed with fiery heat from the tikka marinade and as good as we have tasted in quite some time.
The menu at The Dhabba is a fairly simple affair with much less choice than you might see at your local takeaway with the kitchen preferring to serve a smaller selection of traditional dishes but doing them very well. As a result, my choice of main was actually very easy as I opted for the Lamb Diwana Handi, a slow cooked dish packed with aromatic spices.
This 'curry' might not look much on first sight but the depth of flavour was like nothing I've eaten in a long time. The lamb was cooked on the bone and had obviously been cooking for quite some time as the meat practically slipped from the bones at the slightest touch. The sauce was rich and luxurious, any hint of onion or tomato had given up the ghost during the slow cooking process to leave a perfectly spiced, glossy sauce.
Choosing our mains was easy but settling on accompaniments was much more difficult so in the end we asked our waiter what he would pair with our chosen dishes. He recommended Bhoora Chawal, Lehsuni Naan, Pilee Daal Tadka, and Sabe.
The Bhoora Chawal or brown basmati rice was light and fluffy and so much tastier than any brown rice that I've ever made.
The Lehsuni Naan is one for garlic lovers. The soft naan bread was topped with garlic, butter and herbs and the worked well with the rich sauce from my Diwani Handi.
We both love a good daal and the Pilee Daal Tadka was definitely one of the best we've eaten. Yellow lentils had been cooked until soft with tomato, garlic, ginger and coriander to create a daal that worked well as an accompaniment but would have been great as a standalone dish too.
Last up was the Sabe, a chutney of apple and ginger. We don't normally do chutneys but after trying this sweet yet spice dish alongside our main dishes, we could both see and understand why the chutney is an important part of Indian cuisine.
We took our time enjoying dinner and as we reached the end, we were both feeling a little full although not bagged up as we often do after a curry - I would put this down to the quality of the produce used and the perfect balancing of spices.
On the rare occasion when we are in an Indian restaurant, I always look forward to ordering Gulab Jamin for dessert but after such a feast, I'm wasn't sure that I could manage a pudding. However, Peet had heard that it was my birthday and as way of celebration, I was presented with my own little India birthday cake, complete with the obligatory candle.
Gulab Jamin, like a lot of Indian desserts, is one for those with a sweet tooth. These little balls of sponge are made from milk solids and a little flour, deep fried and then soaked in syrup which is usually flavoured with green cardamom, rose water or saffron. My birthday treat was an absolute joy and a perfect way to end our North Indian feast.
We dined as guests of The Dhabba but my review above is an honest account of our evening. This was hands down, the best Indian meal that we have eaten and I would happily recommend The Dhabba to anyone looking for a top quality curry in Glasgow.
We would like to thanks the staff and management for their hospitality and generosity during our visit and wish them all the best for the future.
Keep up to date with news and offers from The Dhabba on Facebook and Twitter.

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