I grew up in Waterbeach, so I’m aware of the quality offered by the predecessors of Indian Kitchen. Having spent dozens of wonderful evenings at both The Slap Up Tandoori and Bollywood Spice, it was always going to be hard for Indian Kitchen to compete with my nostalgic rose tinted memories.
Naturally, I was keen to find out what the latest addition to this restaurant could offer in comparison, especially since I am still in Waterbeach frequently and no doubt will have to rely on it again in the future.
It turns out that the owner of Indian Kitchen is also the owner of the previously mentioned Slap Up Tandoori, which, before its gradual decline in quality was the Indian restaurant which inspired me to get into Indian and Bangladeshi food.
Upon arrival, we noticed that the building was rather neglected. The Slap Up has always been a bit like that but during its time as Bollywood Spice they had really tried hard to make it pop with some vivid colour and greenery.
That’s all now gone. In fact, if you didn’t know better you’d almost be forgiven for thinking that the building is abandoned.
We were a little confused coming into the Indian Kitchen restaurant as there is only one door and the closed sign was up. 🤷♂️
I had booked a table in advance so I was sure it must be open but then I got thinking about the phone call. The chap on the phone was rushing me so much that he forgot to even take my name down, so I feared that maybe a mistake had been made.
Maybe he didn’t take my name down because he knew that they were always empty? Who knows.
Either way, after a few seconds of wandering outside trying to find signs of life, we were greeted by the manager who led us indoors.
Maybe it was for the best but I didn’t take any photos of the interior decorating. The place was bleak. The walls were mostly white with little decoration and the tables were cheap with no coverings. The staff spent half their time watching what I presume was Bengali TV on their tablets, giving a tinny background noise rather than the usual pleasant Indian music we’ve all come to know and love. It felt like being in someone’s living room before they’ve had a chance to paint or decorate.
I also noticed that the restaurant is under half the size it was when it was named Bollywood Spice. Speaking with the manager, he explained that they have split it in half to turn the other side into a hotel (B&B).
Looking at the menu, there were all the classics you’d expect at a really competitive price. It came across as a place looking to offer the fundamentals to fill a gap in the market rather than anything special which may reflect their regional background like many other restaurants. There is no real reason for a foodie to travel from afar to sample anything unique and is basically a bog standard Indian to serve the locals. The only other person in the restaurant was a man who ordered egg and chips, which did not inspire much confidence in what they were offering.
The menu was enough for us though. We were just looking for a vindaloo while we chatted business between us and I’m sure this will be enough to please most people too.
We requested papdums while we decided what we wanted for our mains. Everything was generic and rather standard (which is not always a bad thing).
We had to request lime pickle as it didn’t come as standard…which was strange as it was easily the stand out of all the sides! It was clearly very cheap and mass produced but had a very thick texture and deep flavour which really hit the spot for me. The mango chutney and the yogurt were slightly above average but nothing to get excited about.
The garlic chilli chicken was, according to my friend, very good. He felt that the curry was well balanced and one of the stronger ones he had in his time.
The saag aloo was decent enough but, as we know, is a very hard dish to mess up. Portions were good for a side dish which is always welcomed!
The king prawns were met with fondness and described as “not too spicy”. The prawn quality was good for the cost of the dish, as I managed to try one myself.
My chicken tikka vindaloo was a good all rounder. It had a good kick to it and tasted as it should. Nothing really jumped out but at that price you cannot complain. I was just glad that it was reasonably hot. The chicken looked like it was tikka’d well.
The service here was quick. We just had to call across the living room sized restaurant and they were there.
The bill came to around £60 which for three people including a beer was great value.
Unfortunately Indian Kitchen doesn’t live up to the memories of The Slap Up Tandoori back in its glory days. The food is certainly a fair standard but the place feels like a truckers pit stop more than an authentic Indian restaurant. This acts more as a takeaway with a few tables crammed in more than a restaurant in its own right.
The restaurant lacks any flare or experience and it’s depressing to be in. I’m struggling to justify recommending it to anyone, especially with so much quality in the area to choose from, such as Curry Palace in Cottenham and Royal Bengal in Willingham.
What are your experiences with Indian Kitchen? Am I wrong? I would love to hear your opinions!