7 Chalk Hill
Tel: 01923 224405
Bushey is not far from Watford it’s a quiet backwater with lots of countryside around it. We found ourselves there recently early on a Saturday evening, hungry and cold. The restaurant was open early and in we went. Almost straight away the phone started to ring. Takeaway orders were streaming in from those unwilling to leave the comfort of their homes.
Despite this being a comfortable restaurant with an award winning history – best South Asian restaurant in Watford. Recommended by Time Out Eating and Drinking Guide and the Hertfordshire Eating Out guide everybody was after takeaways.
We ordered and gradually people started to drift in and stay for food. Now the food here is really rather good. They have a comprehensive menu freshly produced from the fairly small kitchen.
After the usual popadoms and chutneys we moved onto some promising starters. A Lal Bagh mixed starter was good with a trio of tandoori meats and chicken samosas. Plates of lamb samosas and onion bhajis completed this course. The first thing that struck me was how crisp and oil free everything was. They take a healthy approach to the cooking here and you can taste it. The samosas had a wonderful crunch to them and tasted fantastic.
The phone kept on ringing and we had wondered if there was big football match on TV such was the frequency of calls for takeaway food. Martin the owner, who was very smartly dressed, was multitasking in and out of the kitchen and front of house duties as well. There was a good hubbub of activity but I did worry about his threads ending up in shreds from his work in the kitchen.
The mains had the flair of accomplished cooking nothing was over hot (our eight year old liked everything except the lime pickle). If you are after a ‘hot’ meal then you had better make that clear as they will happily adapt. M’s tandoori masala cocktail was a triumph of a mixed tandoori grill in a good masala sauce. This was an effective simple idea but nonetheless innovative, and worth trying out for yourself. X took the plunge with a duck tikka masala. This was rich and being his favourite meat demolished in no time. I chose a chicken green masala, which was incredibly green. The colour came from coriander, which also gave the dish an earthy note. Strong in taste not heat I liked it as much for its unusualness as the taste. A had a child friendly korma although he ate quite a lot of ours as well demonstrating this is a good place for the delicate palate of a growing family.
A few other dishes came and went, the tarka dhall was notably good as were the Bombay aloo. What I would certainly recommend was the nan bread. A stuffed chilli and garlic was my favourite but the stuffed kulcha came a close second. These were all excellent and apart from being an integral part of any Indian meal they were clearly made fresh and were enjoyed by us all. The lemon rice is worth a special mention too.
The puddings were not really much to shout about as they are a bought in frozen selection. Although the hollowed out lemons and oranges filled with sorbets did do a good job of cleansing the palate.
The meal was really very good but let down by the time it took to arrive. If they split the takeaway operation from the main restaurant in terms of ordering and telephony it would be a very different story. It’s a shame as the food is accomplished and at times exceptional but the atmosphere of phones ringing like a call centre is off putting for the diners and distracting for the staff. The meal took over three hours to complete this is too long for a three course Indian for four in a restaurant that wasn’t full.
I suddenly had a thought why everybody was calling up for home delivery. Had they been brainwashed by peak viewing time TV? To be exact ITV’s Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. While the Nations favourite Geordie lads know how to put on a good TV programme maybe you should make your visit to Lal Bagh not at peak time to give them a chance to show how they too can put on a good show a bit quicker that we experienced.
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