One of my photos

Pigeon for dinner

May 5th, 2007 · Posted by Skuds in Life · 3 Comments · Life

This evening I took the family out for a meal, and we went to Zari’s in Ifield. It was partly to unwind after all the exertions of electioneering and partly to thank the kids for all their help.

We had been there before, but this was the first time since their recent refurbishment.

The place seems to go out of its way to distance itself from the image of the traditional British Indian restaurant, with not a scrap of flock wallpaper in evidence, but instead it presents itself as a place for ‘contemporary Indian cuisine’.

The refurbishment has seen the place expand into the shop next door. There is now a bar and lounge area at the front, a large dining area behind that and a seperate room for private parties at the back. There is a large window into the impressively clean and well-equipped kitchens so that you can, if you want to, watch your food being prepared and cooked.

The emphasis on presentation extends to the food as well. Our starters were arranged on deep, square plates in the French style with drizzles of sauce and lots of white space around the different elements. Jayne and I both had some lamb kebab sort of thing which was described as being marinated for a day to melt in the mouth and really did just that.

For main courses you can order all sorts of tikka masalas, kormas, jalfrezis, etc. and then rice and vegetable dishes to go with them. With the new decr comes a new menu and Jayne was a bit disappointed to find that her favourite (balti) is no longer on it, but she enjoyed the bhoona she had instead.

I decided to go for ‘dak bungalow’ pigeon with three-bean kedgeree and roasted vegetables, mainly because so few places serve pigeon that you never know when you will get the chance to have it again. When it arrived it looked tiny on the huge square plate and I was a bit worried that it would be gone in three bites, but it was deceptively filling and the flavour made me eat more slowly to enjoy it more.

On previous visits the desserts had been the mass-produced ones where a supplier provides a choice of pre-frozen dishes along with a laminated menu. They all tasted OK apparently, but you knew that exactly the same thing was being served in any number of Indian restaurants along with Chinese and Italian places too. It reminded me of a holiday on the Algarve I took years ago where every restaurant had identical dessert menus.

That has all gone now and desserts are much more individual. Chas had a chocolate mousse with a small pile of strawberries (I think) at the bottom. Jayne and Chrystal had the selection of ice creams and sorbet and got a little confused by them. Each one was a scoop of a sorbet and two scoops of ice cream in a glass cone. The cone was balanced on a glass full of crushed ice with cranberry juice and Chrystal wasn’t sure if she should/could eat or drink it. Very different to the last time when they had ice cream served in a plastic penguin toy, although the kids were younger then and probably enjoyed that.

The one thing that has not changed is the staff. The same people are still there and they are very friendly and helpful, even if one poor lad did keep asking us if we wanted a menu even though we had already ordered.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Mike

    Pigeons are beautiful creatures, heroes in WW2 when they flew messages across borders etc and all people like you can do is gorge on them.
    I find some Labour colleagues realy dont care about the creatures we share our world with, so much for progession.

  • skud's sister

    Pigeons are not just one bird type. As well as those who were, as you say, heroes there are thousands of feral birds spreading disease and dirt. There are also some which become food.
    I personally also enjoy venison and rabbit but also believe that I do care about the welfare of the animals I choose to consume.

  • Skuds

    I’m a sucker for joining up to good causes and that, but somehow I never saw solidarity with pigeons as a prerequisite to being in the Labour movement!

    Not being a vegetarian I can’t really discriminate between the worthiness of various animals, although I wouldn’t much fancy eating bush meat or whale.

    Jane – Zari’s also have a couple of venison dishes on the menu! Jayne and the kids won’t eat rabbit, venison or horse, but I have managed to get them eating duck now. (Not that I would eat horse by choice, but having been to France quite a lot I can’t guarantee someone hasn’t served it up to me)