The Maharajah’s grand reopening – Castle Street

My dad and I have been counting down the days to the grand reopening of our favourite Indian restaurant, The Maharajah. We have both been coming here for well over a decade for some good old fashioned father son bonding and were both left devastated after learn that it had closed.

It felt like forever but tonight it had finally reopened with a complete reinvention from top to bottom. For those of you who remember The Maharajah was always a very vivid and boldly decorated restaurant with waiters wearing outfits reminiscent of Captain Scarlet. They used to be known as “the rudest Indian in Cambridge” due to their argumentative staff and frequent stories of trying to rush you out the door but the place was always bustling with customers because they always did a mean curry which was always served flaming hot!

The first thing you notice when walking in is that the place is completely unrecognisable. The days of bold vivid colours are long gone and the place now has a contemporary feel with a sharper and much cleaner look to it. This is likely to split opinions as people who loved the old look are going to really miss it but people who were put off are going to likely prefer it.

Looking at the menu the restaurant has a really wide choice to pick from. You have all the classic curries which now come to around £11-12 each.  There was everything else you’d expect from a British Indian restaurant too, including papdums, biryani, and saag aloo. There was a particularly wide selection of specials which will be exciting for anyone looking to explore new dishes.

We ordered some beers while we studied the menu. They had both Cobra and Kingfisher available, as well as the Thai beer Singha. They were served in the small 330ml bottles at £4.50 each with no option for draft. This was disappointing as there is nothing quite like draft but I’m hoping that this is rectified down the line. In my experience with grand openings it often takes a few weeks for draft taps to be put in, so watch this space. A classic example of this was when Sutton Spice first opened last year.

The papdums were excellent. The tray came with mango chutney, onion salad, yogurt, and pickle. All were executed perfectly. The yogurt especially stood out for me but the mango chutney was also done to a high standard. The onion salad was chopped finely and had a real good mix to make it pop. The pickle was also decent but portion was quite small so it had to be used sparingly.

I ordered my usual benchmark to compare with other restaurants. A chicken tikka vindaloo, mushroom rice, and we split a saag aloo mains between the two of us. My dad had the lamb biryani.

The food was excellently presented and portions were generous. We didn’t have to wait long for our food either, which was a good sign on opening night. They are clearly well organised and had a very high ratio of staff on shift to make sure everything ran smoothly.

The staff were very attentive, incredibly polite, and chatty. A far cry from the old reputation of the old restaurant. They were very good at keeping us updated on the progress of our food and were very quick to help if we needed anything. In terms of customer service, they were flawless.

The saag aloo was visually gorgeous and absolutely perfect. In fact, I’d say that it was one of the best I’ve had in a while (and I’ve had a few good ones lately!).

The chicken tikka vindaloo was as visually welcoming as the saag aloo. All the food here has real care taken into its presentation. I was again pleased to see a generous portion size and the chicken was superb and very succulent.

The food had less of a bloating feeling than a lot of Indian restaurants too, which is always a sign of quality. One thing which stood out was the colour, there was no sign of colourings and everything looked like it was cooked fresh from scratch.

For me, the vindaloo could have been hotter but I could tell by the way the restaurant presents itself that the days of super spicy slop in a bucket from the Maharajah are long gone. This is gourmet and they weren’t interested in pretending to be anything else.

My dish was a sight to behold! It was utterly beautiful! Chicken tikka vindaloo with mushroom rice and saag aloo. Everything came together so well and complimented eachother perfectly.

My dad thoroughly enjoyed his lamb biryani. He was kind enough to let me try some of his lamb which was incredibly soft and tender. It fell to pieces and I was pleased to see that the lamb had some fat left on it to really give it that extra flavour. Some restaurants desperately try to keep lamb lean but in my opinion this is the way lamb should be done.

We were treated to some home made desserts which were “on the house” for the grand opening. This was a really nice touch over the usual pre ordered desserts you get in a lot of places and they were all executed really well. The ice cream partially stood out as thick and creamy and I hope this is something they continue. My dad was very fond of the cheese cake which I struggled to get off him to try.

My dad and I thoroughly enjoyed our meals at the new and improved Maharajah. It’s a complete reinvention from head to toe, going from the vividly decorated restaurant which serves blinding hot curry which will blow your head off to a more modern and up market gourmet restaurant which prides itself on the high quality of its cuisine.

The service is impeccable and a million miles better than the reputation it used to have. It will be interesting to see what people think of the changes made here as they have been bold and will likely divide opinion.

You might hear someone familiar yammering away.

I wish them the best of luck and it’s great to see the Indian restaurant scene slowly coming back to life on Castle Street. It’s been a long time coming!

Thanks for reading!

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