Monday, 22 July 2013

Unpaid Review: The Cardamom Club, Derby

You know how I'm always banging on about something?

Whether it's how the Blog's not very popular, or how I'm not really doing enough to the book with having a day-job and everything?

Well, I was comparing this to lots of other Blogs and I've noticed that a lot of the 'popular' ones review stuff... Companies actually send them stuff to review.  Don't know how that would work out here obviously, as a lot of you know, I'm not particularly 'corporate', I like to call a spade a spade and so-forth.

I figured that the only way I'd see if I could write a review, was to actually write one, and see what happens, see if it parts any velvet ropes, see if I get inundated with offers to test hand lotion or man-sized tissues (But not a the same time, if Mr Cameron has his way)

I'm going to review the restaurant I visited last Thursday, for myself and Mrs Dandy's fifteenth wedding anniversary. (I know right, you don't get fifteen years for Murder nowadays!)


The Cardamom Club

Indian Fine Dining Restaurant - Racecourse Park
Sir Frank Whittle Road - Derby.

First of all, let me just say that the chap who owns this restaurant also owns a company that I used to work for - The company with the haunted offices and the vending machine with the undocumented gamble feature - And some of the people that worked with me there, just happened to be in the restaurant when I visited.

Whether this impacted on the quality of my experience... Well, I couldn't possibly comment.

First impressions? Well, It's a part of the complex that houses the local Days Hotel and I must admit to being worried initially that it might just be the 'Dining Room' for the hotel.  I've spent a significant part of my working life staying in hotels all over the country where you have to go 'next door' for your breakfast and dinner of an evening.  This is not the case here, The Cardamom Club is definitely a restaurant in its own right.

Pulling up in the car-park, I noticed the owner's Bentley parked outside, so I had an idea that the staff would be on their best behaviour - It might be worth me trying again when he's not there, just to get a balanced view and see if things are any different 'when the cat's away'.

As you walk through the main entrance you are hit by the opulence of the surroundings.  From the fountains in the lobby to the gleam from all of the polished surfaces, it was easy to forget that you were on a commercial estate, half a mile from the city centre.

We had arrived purposely early, so that we could sample the hospitality and try some cocktails, which were very, very good.  There was only one fly in  the ointment, last Thursday was one of the hottest days since time began, even when Derby was an active volcano and pterodactyls ruled the sky, it wasn't as hot as it was on 18/07/13.  Unfortunately, it was on this fateful day that the air-conditioning had decided to go on the fritz.  Fair play to the team, there was an air-con engineer on site and he managed to get everything working again within the hour.

The Staff: Everyone who had anything to do with our experience, whether it was simply showing us to our table, taking our order, delivering food and drink, or making sure we were OK were excellent.  We never felt pressured, or neglected, the staff struck a fine balance between availability and unobtrusiveness.

The Food: We shared a platter of mixed Indian starters, with onion bhaji, kofte kebabs, lamb cutlets and fish tikka - This was excellent, it was a huge amount of food for a starter and if I had not been so hungry, this would quite easily have been enough for me.  However, I had purposely been starving myself since March (Well, bikini season is coming up), so I was happy to wait the few minutes that it took for the mains to arrive - And I'm not being sarcastic there, (Which is odd for me) the main courses arrived quite literally, minutes after the starters had been cleared away.

For main, I had the Lamb Saag - One of my favourite flavour combinations, the Memsahib had the Lamb Roganjosh (Coloured to a wonderful red with Rattanjot) and both were superb, probably the best Indian food that I've ever eaten (and I've eaten a LOT of Indian food.) - We both had Naan bread, as is the custom, and my Keema Naan... Well, I don't know if you've had Keema Naan before but it's effectively a Naan (I know, Who'd have thought it?) filled with minced meat, usually mutton, but it really doesn't have to be - And from every Indian takeaway I've ever been to, the filling has been macerated to the point where it looks like the bits of donner meat that even the lower end restaurants would give to the dog... But this was real, minced meat, with real spices, which fell like spicy rain from the Naan when you tore it open - I will probably never see its like again... Which is a real shame, because I've been forever spoiled and cannot eat anything else now.

We finished the meal (or so we thought) with a Dark Chocolate and a Mango and Cardamom Ice-Cream, which was also excellent and then made ready to pay the bill.
But no! - What actually happened was that we were presented with a cake, on a decorated platter, wishing us a happy 15th anniversary and then we had our pictures taken (Which has now been posted on their Facebook page)

Funny Story: The young Asian lady you can see in that picture, dressed in pink was horrified when the side-dish of her (I presume) fish curry was a basket of Whitebait, and that Whitebait were little fish, and that little fish had eyes! - Well, it made me chuckle anyway.

The Bill: OK, now we get to the bad bit, the bit everyone dreads, the moment when you open that little leatherette folder and scan down the receipt to the number with the most digits and start to cry.  I was expecting it to be a fairly big number, and I wasn't disappointed.  What you have to remember is that this isn't an Indian Restaurant... Well, I mean, obviously, it is an Indian Restaurant... But it's a fine dining restaurant.  The average price of a main meal is about £17 (going up to £50 if you fancy the lobster) - So you might not want to go the week before payday when you're looking underneath the sofa cushions for coppers.  But saying that, it was a fair price for what you actually get if you factor in the quality of the food and the impeccable service.  All I'll say is that if you take a 'friend' then you'd do well to not expect a lot of change from £100.  I'd take, maybe twice that if you're trying to get your friend drunk for any reason, not that you should have to... If you've taken a member of the opposite sex for a meal here, their enjoyment and any possible show of appreciation, is virtually guaranteed.


So, that's my first review, hope you enjoyed it.

If you have an item or service that you would like to get reviewed by The Chimping Dandy, feel free to get in touch.  I'm open and honest.  Conversely, if you want to review The Chimping Dandy, you could do that too - People have you know, and they thought I was great!

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