“ Address: 383 Kenton Road / Harrow HA3 0XS / Middlesex „
Blue Ginger is a restaurant cum bar based in Kenton in Middlesex that I've visited twice now, once for lunch and once for dinner. The food available is a mixture of Indian and Oriental. According to their website Blue Ginger's target clientele are professionals.
~WHERE AND HOW?~
Blue Ginger in situated on Kenton Road in Harrow, Middlesex on the A4006. It's based on a main road with a car park to accommodate maybe 30 cars. There is ample parking available during the day in the actual car park. It can get busy in the evenings and the car park is first come first served, but there are neighbouring streets where you can easily park as well as single yellow lines which you can park on after 18:30. If you were to go by underground the nearest underground station would be Kenton, although this would be about 10 minutes walk to get to Blue Ginger. Bus routes 183 and 223 pass by the area too.
~CAN APPEARANCES BE DECEIVING?~
When you initially arrive at Blue Ginger you'd be forgiven for thinking you've arrived at any regular pub. Blue Ginger, after all, is an old pub converted to a restaurant/bar. When you step inside though you feel you've entered a different zone. It seems no expense has been spared to make Blue Ginger as comfortable and welcoming as possible. With modern décor and plush leather seating, the chairs, sofas and even bar stools are comfortable and tasteful. The absence of any kind of music is noticeable and on both occasions when I've visited I've been glad of this as it meant I didn't have to worry about shouting over the music to be heard by my dining companions.
As you enter Blue Ginger there is a seating area for those just there for a drinks or waiting to be seated at a table straight ahead with the restaurant and bar to the right. There is a raised section with sofas in one part which seems to be for casual dining and a more formal section here with windows across the back looking out into the car park and Kenton Road.
The main dining area seems to accommodate around 80-100 people with an extension which seems to accommodate the same amount again. The extension hosts a waterfall piece which is quite pleasant to look at but not overly distracting as to put you off your food.
You might wonder why I've subtitled this section as I have but please bear with me and read on...
On both occasions when I visited I found the bar staff and waiting staff to be very attentive, extremely courteous and very helpful in making recommendations based on our tastes.
The bar was not particularly busy when we arrived on our most recent visit (February 2012) and we had an hour to wait before our booking time. Let me explain about the booking, my husband and I we were meeting another couple for dinner. We'd only called in the afternoon to book a table at around 4pm and were advised that they couldn't reserve us a table but could seat us at around 9.30pm. We arrived at around 8.30pm and our friends arrived within 15 minutes of us. We found the bar staff came over to serve us straight away when we first approached the bar and when we took a seat on the bar stools provided, they seemed to regularly glance over to see if we needed their attention. When our friends arrived, someone came over fairly quickly to serve their drinks too without intruding on us greeting each other. I thought this was very diplomatic that the bar staff didn't stand there waiting expectantly whilst we said our hellos rather they moved away and came over straight away once it was apparent they'd decided on their choice of drinks.
When it came to 9.30 we were all rather hungry and were very relieved when someone came over and escorted us to a table for 4. I was very glad that we didn't have to wait and eagerly checked out the menu with the rest of my group.
We were quite slow in choosing our food as we ended up chatting quite a lot but we didn't feel rushed by the staff at all. They came over a few times to see if we were ready to order and didn't seem at all irked when we said we hadn't chosen yet. Eventually when we had semi decided what we were after, we asked the waiter for recommendations according to our palate. He was happy to help out with this and suggested some spicy dishes for hubby and me and some mild dishes for our friends. We were going to mix and match during the meal anyway.
~THE TASTE TEST~
My first drink was a Bellini cocktail - chilled Prosecco over strawberry syrup - I've had this before elsewhere and wasn't impressed with the taste here at Blue Ginger and found the drink to be more room temperature than chilled which spoiled the taste even more. Our friends had some other cocktails, Strawberry Caiprinha and Blue Hawaiian. As you do with cocktails (well my friends and I tend to do), we tried a taste of each other's drinks to see if we liked them to maybe order one for ourselves for the next round. I didn't like the taste of the Strawberry Caiprinha or the Blue Hawaiian, the latter which I've had before. I found the Caiprinha to be overly strong for a cocktail and the Blue Hawaiian had too much ice. We didn't bother to order any further cocktails; instead we ordered a bottle of rose with our meal which we didn't really enjoy either, none of us actually finished a whole glass of wine.
For starters we ordered between the 4 of us:
* BG mixed non-veg grill
* Chilli chicken on the bone
* Chilli fish (tilapia fish)
The portion sizes for the starters were sufficient for the 4 of us although the mixed grill was a sharing platter anyway. The chilli chicken on the bone was listed as 3 chillis on the menu, i.e. very hot. Hubby and I barely noticed this dish as being hot; in fact, I found the chilli fish to be spicier both in chilli content and taste. The mixed grill was very bland which was disappointing. I found the starters decent enough but they didn't quite make me think I'd rush back to this restaurant away for a meal, I was hoping the main course was going to impress me more. Of the starters my favourite was probably the fish which was surprising as I'm not generally fond of fish.
With our main courses we asked for some recommendations again from the waiter who was again happy to suggest some items. The items we ordered for our main course unfortunately didn't hit the spot for me either. In fact, if anything, I enjoyed the starters more and was rather let down by the main course dishes. We had ordered an Indian chicken, lamb and fish dish and a Chinese chicken dish. I can't say I could choose a favourite from the main courses as I didn't really "like" any of them, let alone "love" them. I was happy enough with my naan bread. The "machoozi chicken" we ordered has 3 chillis against it on the menu and our friends who can't handle hot food didn't even find it spicy yet they found something in the starters rather hot which wasn't even advertised as hot. The "kadhai lamb" we ordered seemed overcooked, the lamb pieces practically falling apart it had been cooked so well. We had some "sliced lamb in black pepper sauce" as well which seemed pretty basic Chinese restaurant fare. I don't know what it was, I wasn't expecting to be blown away by how good the food was but I really was hoping for something more than "just average".
I have to mention as well that the presentation of the food was pretty fabulous. The dishes were brand new looking and the pickles and chutneys served with the starters looked really good; BUT they did not taste as good as they looked. All in all, I was feeling very let down by the end of my meal and felt rather cheated as most everything else about the venue was of a high standard - service, décor, ambience, etc. Just the taste of the drinks and food was not up to scratch for me, which is rather important when you're out for a meal, don't you agree?
Our cocktails cost £6.95 each and included regulars such as Margarita, Cosmopolitan, Mojito, etc, with some that I'd not heard of previously such as Blue Kama Kami, Passion Fruit Paloma and Juhi. The bottle of rose we had with our meal was £16.50 - we didn't even finish one glass each as it just wasn't very nice, I'd never heard of The Stone Walker Rose before but I'm certainly never ordering that again anywhere! They charge £4.10 for a 125ml glass and £4.75 for a 175ml glass. The spirits start at around £2.30 a shot going up in price depending on which brand you order. Alcopops are £3 each. Pints of beer or lager range from £2.95 for Foster's going up to £4.00 for Peroni. The cheapest bottle of beer was Carlsberg at £1.75 for 275ml and all others were a minimum of £3.00. Non-alcoholic beer was also £3.00 a bottle.
Our mixed grill starter was £15.95 which was acceptable for the portion size, although I felt the price for the chilli fish of £7.95 was somewhat steep for the portion size and the other chicken dish was £8.45 which also seemed too steep. Thankfully we were not charged for water when we requested a jug of iced water.
I thought it was shocking that a portion of boiled rice was set at £3.50. The naan bread were £2.25 each which was just about acceptable. I thought it was rather amusing that this place sells itself as a venue for professional clientele and then charges them rather extortionate prices for not rather un-exceptional food. The "machoozi chicken" was a real let down at £9.25 a portion and the other main course dishes ranged from £6.50 for vegetarian dishes and £7.45 for non-vegetarian dishes. Biryani dishes were £6.95 for vegetarian dishes and £8.25 for lamb or chicken biryani.
I was quite shocked to see the prices for accompaniments such as "raita" for £2.95 (it's just yoghurt with a few herbs and spices at the end of the day), papadums were £1.75 for 2 plain or £2.25 for 2 masala, £2.95 for a green salad and a whopping £3.95 for curry sauce!
The restaurant has disabled access at entrance and being all on one level there is no need to go up or down any stairs for wheelchair users.
Near where we were seated in the restaurant there was a toilet. I was advised by hubby that the men's toilets were very clean. I found the ladies toilet to be clean enough but there was only 1 toilet which meant people ended up queuing. I unaware if there's another ladies toilet in another part of the restaurant but I sincerely hope there is considering the size of the place!
Blue Ginger has a pretty decent website which gives you lots of information about the restaurant here at www.bgrestaurant.com
Service charges are not included in the bill. As we were so happy with the service, we left a £10 tip after checking with our waiter if the tip would actually be given to the staff as opposed to going into the pockets of the owners.
My dessert of mango kulfi was very nice but as it wasn't made at the restaurant, I can't really credit them with making it. It looked very much like it came out of a pre-packaged ice cream cone...
I can't in all good faith give Blue Ginger more than 3 out of 5 stars as the food just doesn't live up to the price or the supposed standard that they advertise. The 3 stars is pretty much just for the ambience and excellent customer service. I don't know if I'd recommend Blue Ginger to others to go to eat as it all depends on how fussy you are about your Indian restaurant food. If you're happy to pay over the odds for very average food but in a nice venue then it's worth going. If you like your food to be as hot as advertised on the menu, then you'll be sorely disappointed. The clientele at Blue Ginger were mostly Asian from what I saw so it's catering to an authentic clientele so there's no reason they should be pretending the food is spicier than it actually is...
~CONTACT DETAILS/OPENING TIMES~
Blue Ginger Bar & Restaurant
383 Kenton Road
Tel: 020 8909 0100
Lunch: Tues - Sat 12 pm - 3 pm
Snacks: Tues - Sat 3 pm - 6 pm
Dinner: Mon - Sat 6 pm - 11.15 pm
Sun & Bank Holidays*: 1 pm - 10.30 pm
*Food is served throughout the day