You could be forgiven for thinking you’d been transported back to the 1990s when you visit Darjeeling in Lewisham. Not because the decor is tired, because once past the garish pink sign that announces the place it’s pretty smart and contemporary.
But, joy oh joy, you’ll be transported back by the prices. Eyes were popping out and gasps were heard from around the table as the menus were opened. “This is the place to order king prawn,” was a good shout. And when the usual, “we’ve ordered too much,” was heard it was decided that this was the place to pile high the table and taste new dishes, even if we had over-ordered (does anyone ever under-order in an Indian?)
And so the dishes came… Malai Lamb Chops (£2.85) marinated in cream cheese and spices, so tasty you’ll be sucking on the bone long after the meat has gone, the favourites Chicken Chat (£2.05), Sheek Kebab and Shami Kebab (both £1.95) and a more unusual Spicy Calamari (£2.85) that was stir-fried with onions, peppers and chilli.
It’s becoming popular for restaurant to have an Old Favourites section in a grid and Darjeeling’s, which starts at just £3.15 for a Chicken Curry, was raided for a Chicken Madras (£3.45). But most in the party opted for something a bit different, including Lamb Randaam (£6.85) a very hot and very red dish cooked with tart tamarind, Chicken Morisa (£6.85) another hot dish with fresh green chillies, Lemon Chana Chicken (£5.35) with chick peas, an ideal order for people who find Achari dishes a bit too tart. Meat lovers should look no further than the main version of the Malai Lamb Chops (£5.60).
But come on, let’s over-order. Add Tarka Dall, Mushroom Bhaji and Bombay Aloo (all £2.05 as side dishes or £2.95 as mains), a good selection of rice (Plain at £1.65, Sabzi and Special at £2.25), nans (Plain at £1.55 and garlic at £1.65) and wrap up with a couple of Chapatis (£1.15).
Is it any wonder the place was buzzing midweek?
Darjeeling, 134 Lee High Road, Lewisham, SE13 5PR. Tel: 020 8473 8222 or 020 8852 5566. Open: daily 5.30pm–11.30pm, Sat and Sun noon–2.30pm.