An Energetic Curry and a Sturdy Shiraz

VintageIndiaNewLogo A couple months ago I went with some friends to The Maharajah in Long St. and we had a corker of an evening. So last week when some of the same friends were down for a few days and The Maharajah was closed we had to find a new Indian place.

We were all of the opinion that Masala Dosa was to clean cut, to much chic not enough aunties house. Trawling through Dining Out we came across Vintage India and thought we’d give it a go.

The restaurant takes up a corner of the Gardens Centre that faces Mill & Buitenkant Streets. The place gets used for weddings and other functions and looked as if it could seat around 200. The nine of us made up about half the clientele there. I was a bit concerned with all the pink. Pink is not for me an appetizing colour, unless I’m eating cold roast beef.

I can’t give a full and proper review as I didn’t think I was going to do one. So notes of what everyone else had are absent. It also means a good description of the restaurant is absent, I have the memory of a fish.

Before there is food, there is service. I really do love older waiters – or at least waiters who have worked in the hospitality industry longer than I have had soup in the shower – our man, I forget his name, was of the old school. By ‘old school’ I mean old colonial style Indian restaurants where the waiters’ hair is as white as their shirts. And this type of school kicks my primary ones’ ass.

The service was great, seeing that I had brought wine he quickly took the whites to the fridge and asked if he should open the reds. For some reason he started calling me Super-Star and it carried on until I got to the door on our way out as he said in that characteristically staccato Indian manner, “Take care Super-Star. Come again soon”.

The starters were decent but nothing inspiring. I had the chicken spring rolls, where instead of being deep-fried with thin pastry, this was rolled in roti; a sort of cross between a spring roll and a wrap. I liked it with out crying for moreand the portion was hearty. We were drinking the Warwick Chardonnay ‘07  and the Tokara White ‘08 during starters. I preferred the  Warwick with the spring roll. I enjoy this chardonnay with its tender balance between fruit and oak, but I think it could do with a year or two.

For main course I had the Lamb Rogan Jhosh (R65) which was cracking. I smiled at its description in the menu as an “energetic curry”, which it was with tongue pricking tomato and cumin flavours. I had brought a Catherine Marshall Syrah ‘04 and a Fairview Beacon Hill Shiraz ‘05. Unfortunately the CM was corked (on finding this out I sneakily poured a glass of the Fairview and hid it behind a table talker until my main arrived) the shiraz stood up well to the spices but I think the curry was a little too energetic. The Beacon Hill had really smoky aromas, it was like being at a camp fire eating dark berries whilst it gently snowed white pepper. A serious Shiraz, really good structure and weight.

Dessert was avoided. I finished the Warwick. The bill was something like R180-ish per person (incl tip). We’d ordered plenty of naan bread and rice, corkage was R25 per bottle and I think the whole meal was very good value. The service was outstanding, but I guess in earlier times this sort of service was normal. Today to be served properly brings out the hyperbole.

(I am working on some sort of ranking for restaurants so as to compare those I visit until then all I can give you is: Go to Vintage India, it’s fucking rad)


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