“ Address: 36 Osborne Road / Southsea/ Portsmouth / Hampshire / England / Tel: 023 9275 4888 „
Osborne Road in Southsea is known locally as Restaurant Row, yet I have only been to two or three of these eateries. Early one Saturday evening my son and I wandered along, looking at various menus. He insisted I make the final decision, and I picked Bollywood. Its exterior isn't at all appealing, but the menu looked interesting and a review from the local paper in the window showed that it was deemed worthy of four stars for food.
We went in and found that apart from one group of half a dozen or so people, the restaurant was empty. We were shown to a table for four further back, as there didn't seem to be any tables for two. I appreciated the fact that the young waiter didn't hand me the menu until I had taken off my coat and sat down.
While we were studying the menu, the waiter came to ask if we would like any poppadoms. We ordered three as well as a fruit juice each. The poppadoms were served with generous portions of onions, minted yoghurt, mango chutney and another kind of chutney that I was unable to identify. The fruit juice came without ice, but I personally prefer it that way.
Bollywood's menu is an extensive one offering the usual varieties of curry such as dansak, korma, korai, biriani, rogan josh, jalfrezi, vindaloo and so on. There are several fish curries, but other than prawn the type of fish is not specified. Several vegetarian options are available. For just under £11 you can have a starter (choice of two), any main dish other than king prawns, a side dish and rice. Bangladeshi dishes are listed on a separate page. For those who aren't keen on curry but are perhaps part of a group who are, there are steaks and omelettes to choose from. I enquired as to what exactly the Bollywood special biriani consisted of, but the mixture of lamb, chicken and prawn with omelette sounded like a strange combination. I decided on duck dansak, which is served with pilau rice. My son was sufficiently intrigued to order the chicken makhonwala dish - the meat is cut into long strips and marinated before being cooked with spices. It is served in a sauce with fresh cream and nuts, topped with tomato. We decided that we would share my pilau rice and also ordered a peshwari naan bread to share.
After we had finished our poppadoms, a hot plate was brought for the dansak and makhonwala, which were served in white oval porcelain dishes. The makhonwala certainly looked unusual and appetising. I tried a little of the sauce with some naan bread; it was delicious and quite mild. My son was definitely impressed by his choice. My dansak was a very good, medium hot sauce, but one or two pieces of the duck were less than tender. Other than that I enjoyed it. The pilau rice and peshwari naan were both more than satisfactory.
The waiting staff did not hurry to clear our plates after we had finished. We decided against dessert and asked for the bill. It came to £24.50 to which we added a tip as the service had been polite and efficient. The waiters were all very young and looked as though they hadn't been cutting back on rice and naan bread. We had been told at the outset that payment would have to be made in cash, but this did not pose a problem.
Bollywood is comfortable but not particularly stylish. There is no shortage of cinema posters alongside one or two modest works of art, but the décor on the whole seems a little tired and uninspiring. Bollywood music is of course playing non-stop, thankfully not so loud as to interfere with conversation.
Before leaving I visited the ladies which is on the ground floor. Again, it was not sumptuously decorated but clean enough and well supplied with soap, paper towels and toilet tissue. It might just about be accessible by someone in a wheelchair, but the corridors are quite narrow.
When we left, one of the waiters held the door open for us as he thanked us and said goodbye. It's not a foregone conclusion that that will happen.
Apart from one or two pieces of duck being rather tough, we felt that the food at Bollywood was excellent. There are three Indian restaurants on Osborne Road, the other two being Spice Merchants and the Jewel in the Crown. I have yet to visit the Jewel in the Crown, but my son was adamant that Bollywood's cuisine is superior. He felt, however, that Spice Merchants is the best of the three as it scores highly for both cuisine and stylish surroundings. Service is very good at both restaurants.
When we left at around 7.30pm Bollywood was empty, but the night was still young. I wouldn't recommend the duck, but the makhonwala is an unusual dish to find on a menu and I would be very tempted to try it one day. If you like good Indian food at reasonable prices and can't get enough of Bollywood music, this is a restaurant worth visiting. It is just a stone's throw from Southsea common and Palmerston Road shopping precinct. You might be lucky enough to find a parking spot on Osborne Road itself.
36 Osborne Road
Tel. 023 9275 4888
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