Procuring the top table at a restaurant usually means you have the plum seats from which to survey all comers. At Bangalore Express, it means you can take your seat in a ‘floating’ booth, reached by a bunk-bed style ladder. A perfect enticement, you might think, for youngsters to indulge their adventurous spirit and clamber up high – not to mention the precarious exercise for the waiting staff who have to combine circus balancing skills with hosting expertise.
With a warning that the dizzying heights (well, actually, about two metres) should not be attempted if you are pregnant or under the influence of alcohol (which is kind of funny for an Indian restaurant), the thought of dining on high is an intriguing one, but while 13-year-old Grace scampered light-footedly up the rungs, her four-year-old brother, Joe, was a tad more reticent. A few tentative steps up, however, Joe froze and declared he was scared of heights so Grace reluctantly came down and we all sat together in a cosy booth.
There are currently two branches of Bangalore Express, in Waterloo and the City, dishing up a satisfying and authentic take on Indian cuisine. The proprietors, Charles Hill and Yogett Datta, are also owners of the much-acclaimed The Painted Heron in Chelsea, which has won a host of plaudits for its fresh and delicious cuisine. Bangalore Express holds strong the same ideals of freshly prepared and tasty dishes, albeit it in a less formal setting than Chelsea’s smart Cheyne Walk. The décor is bright, modern and friendly, with big chunky glasses (fine for juice and soft drinks, though a little lacking in refinement for a glass of wine).
There’s a handsome and varied menu on offer from light snacks to the Full Monty-style Thali. We kicked off with some poppadoms, which always go down well, with assorted chutneys, and a selection of tapas (at £4.50 each): golden fried tiger prawns with chilli jam; duck, cashew nut and raisin roll and lamb meat balls in tempered mint yoghurt. Joe dived straight into his main meal – although there was a burger on offer, we managed to entice him to try a mild chicken korma curry with rice and mild masala chips. When Grace discovered the tapas were a tad too spicy for her taste, we managed to hurry our waitress along to bring her meal too – and to stop her from stealing Joe’s tasty chips!
The grown-ups opted for Chicken Thali – a very ample dish served with dumpling curry, roasted chickpeas and spinach, lentils, tempura vegetables, rice, cucumber raita and roomali roti for £11 – and the “low-fat plate” offering: chicken breast with oil-free medium hot curry with chunky cucumber and low-fat yoghurt. In the end, we were all so full of delicious home-cooked dishes that we didn’t even manage to sample desserts. Next time, we’ll make sure we save a little space for kulfi ice cream on a stick.
Hours: Open daily from 11am until midnight.
Contact: tel: 020 7021 0886; www.bangalorexpress.co.uk
Address: 103–105 Waterloo Road SE1 8UU; nearest tube station, Waterloo.