Tel: +44 (0)20 7373 0220
Address: 147 Earls Court Road, SW5 9RQ
Cuisine Type: Indian
Having enjoyed eating at the original Masala Zone in Soho, I was pleased to hear that in addition to a second restaurant in Islington, the latest branch has opened on my doorstep in West London. In keeping with the other venues, Masala Zone Earls Court is sleek and modern with the same appealing menu and friendly, efficient service. There is also a bar on the first floor (great for pre-dinner drinks) and a private dining room downstairs which can be reserved for functions.
We arrived around 7.30pm on a Friday evening, and already the restaurant was filled with the buzz of people winding down for the weekend. However, although the staff were busy, this was not at the expense of the service which was consistently attentive without being overbearing.
Our waiter brought a couple of Cobras before taking the time to talk us through the menu. I already knew that I wanted bhel (£3) to start, a crunchy appetiser that never fails to satisfy, and we couldn’t resist adding the grazing platter (£5.50), which includes a selection of starters from the menu – samosas, steamed rice cakes, aloo tikki chat (fried spiced potato patties), fried spinach leaf and chutneys – a good way to sample a variety of flavours, textures and colours.
The main course thalis (regular thalis from £6 and grand thalis from £8.50) are popular with diners, where your choice of curry from the range of main courses comes accessorised with a number of side dishes, rice, whole wheat chapatti and papadum to provide a complete and nutritionally balanced meal. We ordered the prawn malai and dhaaba roghan josh grand thalis, which combined with portions of dal (lentils), white pumpkin, black-eyed beans, potato, raita and kachumber (a crunchy side salad), were both substantial and varied. The curries are every bit as good as I remember, the creamy and lightly spiced coconut sauce forming a perfect backdrop for the prawns, while tender cubes of lamb came in a more tangy but equally rich tomato based sauce.
Despite being full, I couldn’t help ordering a mango kulfi (£2.65) for dessert – the aroma of real fruit and the creamy texture from the condensed milk make this a perfect sweet note to round off a meal. Anyway, the soothing fresh mint and ginger infusions (£1.90) we had afterwards serve to aid digestion and eliminate calories, right?
As the website name suggests, Masala Zone offers authentic Indian dishes (well, the street food starters and thalis more so than the lunchtime masala burgers or assorted noodle bowls, at any rate), at competitive prices to boot. Looks like this could become my new local Indian, then…