The Average White Band were one of my favourite groups in the ’70s and ’80s. They mixed it up musically with a bit of jazz, a bit of funk and a bit of soul. And they mixed it up racially when it came to the line-up of the band. And that mix all came together, like a perfect curry blends a mix of spices, in a track called Pick up the Pieces.
Sitar could do with picking up the pieces, because it certainly has some of the ingredients to be a cracking Indian restaurant – location in Temple Bar, decent food and reasonable prices – but it’s just, well, Average.
Let’s start with the positives. A Temple Bar location, the honey pot of Dublin, where tourists will accept anything at any price seemingly. Ok, Sitar’s not very Irish and there’s not a Guinness sign hanging outside, but it’s in Temple Bar for goodness sake, what can go wrong?
The food is ok (not all of it, but more of that later), the staff are very friendly and welcoming, as is the decor of the place, especially the cosy booth-like table at the window. And best of all there is no ‘live, local music’, which is a welcome relief to anyone who has been in the Irish capital for more than 48 hours.
But then came the popadoms, clearly from a packet – you know, the ones like crisps that are handy for dips when you fancy a snack at home. I’ve pretty much gone off popadoms, mostly because few restaurants cook them fresh anymore (I can only think it costs too much to keep the deep-fat fryer on) but packet popadoms in a restaurant? Well that’s a first. It didn’t matter too much because the amount of dips served up barely covered the bottom of those tiny pots. It’s lucky I’ve gone off pops really.
But I haven’t gone off Sheehk Kebabs and these were clearly cooked from frozen and not made fresh. The poor meat had been iced to death and had no texture, although the taste was just about hanging in there. It’s what you’d imagine astronauts would get if they opened a packet of Sheehk Kebabs as they whizzed around space.
You may wonder why I’m still sitting here at this point. Well, it’s my birthday, the Cobra is very cold and that booth I mentioned was great fun for people watching. It’s amazing what tourists will film if it looks remotely Irish.
Maybe it was at that moment they brought in a proper chef because the mains were rather good (pops, starter, main, plus rice or nan was €18.95 in the early bird special). The Chicken Madras, although cooked well below the spice level required was tasty and the chicken tender, while the Prawn Dhansak lovely and thick with its lentils and delivered with four or five proper-sized prawns. Well, well, the place can deliver, after all. Now just pick up the rest of the pieces guys…
Sitar, 16 Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Ireland. Tel: +353 (01) 670 6863. Info@sitartemplebar.ie
Scores on the tandoors
Vibe 6 (early Tuesday night)