Housed in the old Darling Mills building, Darbar has a beautiful facade and dramatic interior. Having never been before (except some home delivery a few years ago), we hoped the food would live up to the atmosphere.
We were using a deal voucher so didn’t get to choose our dishes, which is both good and bad. I love being able to try lots of dishes, and often ones I wouldn’t usually choose. However I do like to know what I’m getting and unfortunately at Darbar it was all a bit of a mystery! When the plates arrived the waiter/ress told us the names of the various items but too quickly and briefly to be able to really hear or understand what they were. This was typical of the service: not rude, but we always felt like they were being as quick as possible, as if they had somewhere more important to be. I suspect that if the service were more warm and attentive, the ratings on Urbanspoon and eatability would be much higher. We also didn’t get any pappadums, raita or mint sauce as promised in the deal, which was sad. 😦
Our deal included a bottle of house wine and we chose (as usual) the dry white option. It was pretty good, and at $18 was great value. Their wine list was quite extensive if that sort of thing interests you – plus you can BYO as well.
The first entree was the Darbar chat. I’ve tried this at Posh Spice and Delhi O’ Delhi, so I expected it to be cold and very saucy, which it was. It is described on the menu as “crisped spinach tossed together with potato and chickpeas”. However, unlike others I’ve tried, this chat didn’t appear to have any crispy deep-fried spinach leaves – it was like crushed cornflakes topped with sweet raita, with a few green bits in it. Mr Black and our two friends enjoyed it but I think it was weird and definitely missable.
The entree platter was much more exciting. Chicken tikka was fine, the pan fried masala ocean trout well-cooked and very yummy, the prawn vepudu delicious and beautifully spiced.
The curries were all good. And that’s according to me and three Brits who are notoriously picky and superior about British Indian food being better and “more authentic” than ours (most of whom have never lived in India as I have! Cheeky gits 😉 ). They were all very unique, and the surprise standout was the fish makhni – gorgeous! Tender and rich with that delicious, almost smoky flavour which can only come from being cooked in the tandoor before being simmered in the tomato based sauce. And the Brits told me that the butter chicken was “proper” like one gets in the UK. Not like the much darker, spicier version you would find at Faheems‘ which is far less less sweet and creamy. The only one I wouldn’t order again was the prawn curry as the prawns were just a little too overdone. (Much better to get the prawn entree dish which was a standout.)
The naan was great too, soft, buttery and smoky.
We weren’t absolutely stuffed as I’ve been after other banquets so happily we could fit in some pistachio kulfi. I LOVE kulfi and Darbar’s was very good, with a great hit of cardamom and a very creamy texture. It was obviously churned like ice-cream which isn’t traditional, but does make it extra delicious!