Friday, May 16

Food: La Porte de Indes Click for more info

Make no mistake folks, this place is definitely more Indian than French. From the decor to waiters it's tough to imagine being able to order anything other than a fancy chicken korma, but then I guess I'd need to actually visit colonial Pondicherry to really decide how authentic the place was. But then I never really care about the context of such places - a bunch of friends and I came here to eat, not imagine that I'm in some French-run colony.

I've actually been here before, way before I started writing. I remember not being too impressed by the place, its only talent being able to overcharge us for pretty basic food. Fortunately I had a better experience this time around, probably due to a change in both my taste and the restaurant itself.

Since we decided to hedge our bets and picked various platter/mixed grill dishes for both starts and main, I'm not really sure what we ate. There were fish mince, prawns kebabs and chops, all pretty much edible but nothing special. I'm still wondering how good the portions were, since even after under ordering dishes (two starters and three mains for five of us), we had a bit left.

Only the lamb and chicken are halal (by assertion of the waiter), although I was more convinced by the opportunity to pray Maghrib on-site without any eyebrows being raised than the testimony of staff. Atmosphere was pretty good too, both now and the previous time I came - Indes is the perfect place for both intimate conversation and public debate and I felt at ease with the vibe at all times. Service was also top notch: we were given all the space we needed while ordering and were even treated to an unrequested dessert (it had been a fellow diner's birthday that week) and flowers for the ladies present.

All of this came at a cost of course. At just under £30 per head for the food and drink (the non-alcoholic cocktail was £7 quid alone!), I can hardly call Indes value for money, especially since we had under ordered. Still I don't think anyone went away hungry and we undeniably had a good time so I can't call it a total con - so perhaps Indes is only really a place to go to armed with a top table offer or two?