One Direction to Curry Paradise
On Friday 27th April 2018, the OCC made a trip to the leafy North London suburb of Hampstead Heath. Paradise Indian Cuisine was the location for their monthly meet. Positioned just a stone’s throw from Hampstead Heath Overground station, the restaurant was established in 1969, meaning it celebrates its 50th birthday in 2019. Famed for its subtly spiced traditional Indian dishes, along with special dishes originally created and named, the restaurant has already been the subject of numerous accolades, including being highlighted in GQ magazine as one of London’s best Indian restaurants in 2017. The restaurant has become a favourite for many of the local celebrities who live nearby, including; Kate Moss, Rowan Atkinson, One Direction and David Beckham. Closer inspection of the menu sees an addition to the chef’s specials, the ‘Arctic Murg’, which is a tribute dish to the restaurants good friends The Arctic Monkeys. With celebrity endorsements such as this, the OCC were both excited and intrigued to find out what all the fuss was about. It has to be said, the restaurant very much lived up to its superstar billing. If there was a curry house ‘Walk of Fame’, we’re certain Paradise would get a star on the sidewalk.
The OCC arrived at Paradise at the usual time of 7.30 OST, to be met by Wasel Ali, the restaurant’s owner. Smartly dressed and softly spoken, Wasel and his team immediately made the OCC feel both welcome and valued. Despite the fact every table was full, Wasel took his time to make sure coats and bags were taken and attended to the table personally, until we were settled and had ordered drinks. When asked about specific dishes and recommendations, his staff were knowledgeable, friendly and clearly showed a passion for their endeavours. Service throughout the meal was slick. Drinks orders were taken at regular intervals and the food came at the right pace. Not too quickly that we felt rushed but quickly enough that no one got hungry. One of the most impressive parts about the service was Wasel and his team’s ability to interject at appropriate moments. When OCC members were going through meeting agenda points, he would wait until they had finished. He was helpful without being overbearing and the offer of a free round of after dinner drinks at the end of the meal was very much welcomed by the OCC. Phenomenal customer care and service.
Average customer care rating 8.72
Average service rating 8.26
Upon arrival to Paradise, you are met with a bright, fresh and quite modern restaurant floor. The décor associates well with the menu and ambience of the restaurant. The mixture of the contemporary with the traditional is illustrated best in the menu, which has all the classic dishes you would expect from an Indian restaurant, coupled with some original and interesting special dishes. Some OCC members even remarked that the font in which the menu is presented shows a desire to portray quality to the customer. A look around the restaurant and there is a real mix of clientele. Some tables are filled with city workers who have stopped for a curry after a long week. Others with families and young children. It’s clearly a place for all sorts and illustrates a mass appeal. The light and bright fixtures and fittings, along with the high ceilings, perhaps mean the restaurant loses the cosy feel of a more traditional curry house. It still feels welcoming, though. The atmosphere is simmering rather than bubbling over, but Paradise certainly gives you that Friday night feel good factor.
Average atmosphere rating 7.67
OCC members were extremely impressed with the presentation and quality of the food received. Many of the dishes had a fantastic taste and the portion sizes were plentiful. So much so, that not many completed their meal. Wasel was only too pleased to offer a ‘doggie bag’ for those that wanted it, offering good value for money. There are almost too many highlights to list here. However, some dishes which were particularly well received included; Hot Chicken Pathia, Chicken Jalfrezi, an Achari dish and the Saag Aloo side dish. The accompanying Naan breads were absolutely exquisite and the consistent high standards across a range of dishes were seriously impressive. The staff were also happy to allow members to try dishes and if they didn’t like them, order something else. This gave the OCC plenty of confidence in what they were ordering. The only dishes that were a slight disappointment were a Tandoori Chicken starter, which was dry and not in keeping with the remaining excellent starters served. The Ceylon main course, though incredibly tasty, lacked a bit of punch and perhaps a bit more spice would elevate it further. These are, however, minor blips in what was otherwise an absolutely delightful feast of Indian flavours and spices, which provided great value for the customer. The highest of compliments to the chef!
Average food quality rating 8.24
Average value for money rating 7.94
In summary, this restaurant has got a lot of things right. The all-round experience was brilliant and many OCC members are already keen to go back for more! The overall score reflects the positive experience had by all who attended and it’s hard to find fault in the high quality standards Wasel and his team deliver consistently. We can only see Paradise heading in One Direction…..as a serious contender for the CHOTY 2018. Well done to all who attended for a wonderful evening.
Paradise Average scores;
Customer Care 8.72
Quality of food 8.24
OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE 8.16
May your poppadoms be crispy, your sauces tasty and curry spicy. OCC
Chairman for the night Seve