Fur coat and no knickers- or should that be high price and no spice?
In my quest to test Salford's culinary waters, I decided to take the plunge and go for an Indian. As my beloved Shabna doesn't have a restaurant, I decided to try Passage to India which is directly opposite it on Monton Rd. I figured the food must be excellent to keep up with Shabna's competition, however the reviews on line were not very favourable. Rude staff! Bland food! Small Portions! Being the objective Vindaloo Queen I am, I decided to ignore the reviews and make my own judgement. I wish I hadn't now.
The bars of Monton were heaving in contrast to Passage, where only 3 tables were taken. As I entered, I had my first rude staff experience. 'Sit down there!' he barked at me. 'I need to prepare table'. I perched on a stool, wondering what needed to be prepared in this practically empty restaurant whose tables were all fully set. 'You come now'. I was ready to run out but in the name of blog research, I decided to stick it out. If the meal was hideous, then at least its a story to tell, right?
I scoured the menu and was shocked at the high prices- thank god I was getting a veggie dish otherwise I would have had to get a second mortgage. I still squirmed at paying £8 for a veggie curry though... 'Do you want drinks?' I was barked at yet again by the same surly staff member who seated me. 15 minutes later 'Do you want drinks?' Throughout the meal, we were asked 5 times if we wanted more drinks. Either they were on commission to flog drinks or they couldn't actually see the full glass of water before their eyes. Maybe they were just glass half empty kinda guys.
As the veggie samosas were a ripoff £4, the starter was to be pops, followed by a veggie madras, veggie biryani, pilau and naan. The pops were thankfully crisp and fresh, but the complement of dips wasn't the most adventurous. I awaited the main course hungrily. It was abyssmal. Not quite on the same abyssmal level as Edinburgh's Tippoo Sahib (the worst curry in the history of Imodium), but it seemed to have come from one of Iceland's 'reduced for clearance' freezers. The Madras sauce had the consistency of a lava lamp, the veg from one of those infamous frozen mix bags from the aforementioned supermarket- corn, peas and perfect budget cubes of illuminous carrot. Continuing the theme of frozen veg, the biryani looked achingly familiar from my student days, when I used to shop mainly at cheap shops and live off frozen meals. The rice was boiled rather than fried, and was padded out with yet more frozen veg. We weren't even asked which sauce we wanted with this monstrosity, but a witches brew of oil and gravy-like curry sauce was plonked in front of us. This meal was inedible.
Halfway through the meal, the restaurant manager approached my table (and all other 3 diners) and fired off a series of questions in the style of a quiz show host.
'Are you local?' (I thought this was a chat up line at first)
'Is it your first time or do you come here often?' (ooh the old charmer!)
'How did you find out about us?' (Well, not from Gordon Ramsay that's for sure)
After the interrogation, I was feeling more angry at this place, you know when you feel like slapping someone round the chops but don't actually do it? I had to get out for my sanity. Enter Surly Staff Member no.1, the fellow who seated me. He was back again, this time on all fours brushing the floor (note: he didn't wash his hands after). Then, he came to our table and instead of cleaning it properly, he swept the crumbs up with one hand into his other cupped hand. Wow, fabulous hygiene and service standards, I am impressed.
This bland meal had finally drawn to a close and will thankfully never be repeated. Such a shame, as Passage looks like a promising, opulently decorated eaterie from the outside, but it quite frankly a case of fur coat and no knickers. Back to the Curry Mile it is then.