It took a while to get to Indian Cafe Racer. I had a Deliveroo from them when they first opened, which turned out to be a not very good Deliveroo. So not very good that if memory serves me correct, and it seldom does, I ordered a second dinner from someone else. Fast forward a few months and Omar is on the phone suggesting I give them a look for Barney given that thingy from thingy thingy said they’re good, to which I explain the Deliveroo and say that maybe the other source isn’t one that I’d take as gospel, to which I think he disagreed on both points and told me to go anyway. Fast forward another couple of months and I’m here, partially because they like my posts on Instagram and partially because I have some form of responsibility to this blog and to Barney to suss out the best places. I’ve made it, eventually.
It’s not off to a great start. It’s hot in here, so much so that I’m down to the layers that preserve my modesty. They get my drink order wrong, and just two dishes in they keep on taking away my plate, which would be fine if they replaced it with the same vigour. The service is keen, but that might be because there are just two tables taken at 6pm, allowing us to take in the racing green dining room to full effect. Our table is right by a motorcycle. I still have no idea why.
And now the food. Is it as brilliant as some will have you believe? I think that’s a push. There is certainly stuff to be excited about. I adore the spicy orange dip with the papads, and the chilli paneer is easily the best version this city has ever seen (also excellent work on the waiter suggesting we eat it quickly so that the cheese doesn’t tighten up). A very similar sticky base of sweet heat turns up with the Gobi Mancurian making it the must order they tell us it is. Sophie likes the chicken 65 more than I do. Whilst I think it’s lacking any real heat, she enjoys the nuttiness and the whack of curry leaf. The golgappa are textbook but could be filled more. It’s also an issue getting the tamarind water into the tiny holes from such an impractical pot.
We try one curry between two which is a mixed bag. The makhani sauce is superb; a nutty, creamy, comforting hug of a sauce that has the hint of fenugreek and clove running throughout. Stop here and you have one of the best makhani sauces I’ve tried. It’s let down by the chicken leg meat not having the fat trimmed correctly and the cooking process meaning that the dark meat has taken on a weird spongey texture. We leave the meat and use excellent garlic naans to soak up the sauce. A rasmalai is not ordered or charged for but technically superb with that ever-so-slightly texture of soggy bread from the curdled milk.
The bill isn’t much. Fifty-odd quid for two with a drink apiece, meaning I fully understand why it’s 80% full by 8pm when we leave. On our way back I’m messaged by the owner on Instagram to tell me that my bill should have been comp’d and is very apologetic about it. I respond to him as I do with finishing here. I’m glad I paid; it allowed me to judge it without tinted glasses and whilst the meal wasn’t without issue, I enjoyed almost all of it. They’ll see me again at some point in the future.
Listen to The Meat and One Veg Podcast here. Season two uploading.