The elegantly fronted Thali Thali beckons in the curry hungry punter like a topless Siren singing some top bhangra tunes. First impressions are good…however, first impressions don’t last long. Walking into Thali Thali is a bit like finding yourself in the galley of a roll-on roll-off ferry. The narrow seating arrangement is however made to feel ostensibly spacious by deployment of a massive mirror all along one side of the wall. So impressive and out of place was this mirror that I expected the waiters to start on an aerobics routine at any moment. Fortunately they didn’t. Unfortunately at this point we also noticed the bar and a lonely Kingfisher phallus pump which was the sign of the feared ‘birdy brew’ on draught. A quick peer behind the bar however revealed copious bottles of cobra and this was where we made our second mistake (the first being to go in) which was to not see the Bangla hidden behind…
Anyway, what you don’t realise until half way through the meal (when you see someone else has a Bangla and you don’t) can’t really hurt. Beers and popadums arrived swiftly along with a curious pickle selection. Mango chutney (check), minty yoghurt (check), chopped onion selection (check), Old Elpasso Tex-Mex sauce (hang on!). For some reason the traditional completely undippable lime pickle had been substituted for some bizarre brown goo which would go better with barbequed spare-ribs. Contemporary cuisine? Fusion food? Or put them both together and get Confusion cuisine.
Starters turned up just about as the last popadum was cleared. A rather disappointing lamb kebab with ‘spice’ but not flavour. However, the chicken tandoori was all the more interesting for not being fully cooked. Through the art of ventriloquism and mime the chef explained (via the waiter) that it was cooked, only the red bits were sinew (tasty delicacy I was previously unaware of) so not technically meat and very unlikely to give you a dose of the screaming abdabs/a normal bowel movement depending on the proximity of your bench mark to the southern continent. The salad in both cases was reassuringly ‘traditional’ and we left them for the next lucky punters to cast their admiring eyes-over too.
Mains were sadly not tending towards excellent either. A lack of roti on the menu meant for the selection of a slightly greasy parantha. The Gosht Rogan Josh was rather disappointing – nice quality lamb but a dreadful gravy of a sauce and not a tomato in sight. The Murg Jhalfreji (menu spelling) was admittedly hot but tasted of raw chilli and had no real depth of flavour.
Desert was done and bore the semi-frozen sugary kite mark of approval. Sadly though no towels and just a small chocy to send us on our way. Not even the offer of a cheeky night cap and judging by the sizeable bill it would’ve been more than covered – each... a few times over.
Thali Thali, presumably the owners thought it so good they named it twice (or it’s twice as expensive as it would be if they just called it Thali). However, on this showing it wouldn’t matter if they called it Thali Thali Thali or indeed Tora Tora Tora as we don’t have the kamikaze mentality and you wouldn’t get these reviewers coming back in a hurry.
Randdy Doggoe grudgingly gave this establishment 55 points
Bret Myri adopted a pragmatic approach and awarded 56 points