“ Address: 58 West St / Havant PO9 1PG / Hampshire „
Many restaurant reviews I've read in the last year or so mention that the diners were in possession of a Groupon voucher. Which lead me to wondering what was this mysterious Groupon voucher and how did I get one? In case you're not aware Groupon (http://www.groupon.co.uk) is a deals site. You sign up for deals in your area, and receive a daily email advising you of discounts in local restaurants, leisure activities, spa, beauty and so on. The daily deals can offer up to 70% discount, and you purchase your voucher from Groupon. Well I found the site, signed up...and waited, waited some more, and then waited even still further. There were plenty of deals in my area if I wanted my teeth whitened, my car MOT'd or my hair cut....BUT eating out?....not a chance.
I was quite disheartened by this, and wondered why it was none of my local eateries wanted to offer me a good Groupon deal. Finally one hove into sight...but we declined their kind offer as the menu was "too fannyied about with". Now these were himself's words not mine. He doesn't mind the odd coulis or timbale, but adding too many unusual and fancy ingredients just to make the dish appear more exotic than it actually is doesn't go down too well.
Six months after joining Groupon, we finally managed to snap up a deal, in the form of a two course Indian meal for two worth £37.20 at the discounted price of £15.50. You pay the £15.50 to Groupon (first going through a site like Quidco or Top Cashback to get a further 5% cashback), and they email you a voucher which you print off to take with you to your chosen venue.
Hence we pitched up to Chilli & Lime on a Tuesday night last summer, ready to finally partake of the delights of a Groupon deal. We reserved the table in advance (as recommended by Groupon) and although we were supposed to inform them that we were on the Groupon deal in the reservation telephone call, we had no need in this case as the phone-answerer at Chilli & Lime asked if we were on the Groupon deal. I can only surmise from this that they must had a fantastic response to their Groupon deal. So were we going to be impressed with both Chilli & Lime and our very first Groupon?
~~~ THE VENUE ~~~
I believe that Chilli & Lime is a relatively new restaurant to Havant, having only opened in the early days of summer this year. For those of you that are familiar with Havant, Chilli & Lime is housed in the same spot as another Indian restaurant, The Agra, which had traded there for a couple of decades.
There is a small car park directly behind the restaurant (accessed via the bus station), but spaces are rather limited and it's pretty rundown and unsightly looking. There is no access from the car park through the back of the restaurant. One needs park and then walk past the Weatherspoons pub (The Parchment Makers) in Park Road North towards the pedestrianised West Street in order to access Chilli & Lime. We were a little wary about leaving our car there, but thankfully it was quite safe.
The décor in Chilli & Lime is rather dark and retro. An abundance of dark browns and oranges in the décor put me in mind of the 70s to be honest. The brown and orange theme did make the whole venue a little on the dark side; the addition of pretty tea lights to each table were a nice touch but didn't help with the dimness of the room. Similarly, small burnt umber lights on long strings suspended over each table did look good, but gave off very little light. I must mention the ceiling though, as it was quite eye-catching. It was all draped in some kind of silky material with three large inset twinkling glass chandeliers. Not the sort of thing you'd want in your own lounge but quite effective in a restaurant.
To one side of the venue are some rather comfy looking deep brown banquettes ideal for larger parties of six to eight. We were seated on the opposite side of the room on a small table for two. The tables were quite close together and you could definitely hear every word the couple seated next to us were saying, so no doubt they could hear us too :o(
As you enter Chilli & Lime there is a small waiting area set out with a couple of chairs and a table at which to wait for either your takeaway or your table to be ready. There is also a small bar which serves Kingfisher lager at a rather reasonable £2.95 a pint.
~~~ THE MENU ~~~
Chilli & Lime serve Bangladeshi cuisine - so nothing new here...so do about 65% of all UK curry houses according to Wiki. Bangladeshi cooking is a wide encompassing selection of dishes ranging from Tandoori, Balti, Biriani, Korma, Madras, Vindaloo and so on.
The menu at Chilli & Lime is the usual Indian fare we've all come to know and love - all the usual favourites as above and more. House specialities at Chilli & Lime include Naga Chicken (a hot and spicy dish of chicken pieces marinated in Naga chilli pickle and spices), Lamb or Chicken Achari (cooked in a Tamarind sauce with ginger) and Chicken or Lamb Xacuti (a fairly hot Goan curry). I quite fancied trying Chicken Tikka Morissa (chicken pieces marinated in Tikka sauce with fresh green chillies) but decided it was probably going to be too hot for me to handle.
All the dishes are marked on the menu by a chilli symbol - one if the dish is hot and two if it is very hot. They're also flagged up which dishes contain nuts as well. Sadly there doesn't seem too much of the way in vegetarian specials on their menu, which may deter non meat eaters. There's a Vegetable Balti, a Vegetable Curry and a Vegetable Biriani - but that's about the extent of it.
Prices at Chilli and Lime are really quite reasonable. Starters begin at £2.90 and go up to a maximum of £4.90. Main course prices range from £6.50 up to more expensive prawn based dishes at £10.90.
I'm won't list the full menu here, but if you're planning a visit to Chilli & Lime then the full menu and prices can be seen on their website at: http://www.chilliandlimerestaurant.com
~~~ DINNER FOR TWO WITH OUR GROUPON VOUCHER ~~~
As we were on the Groupon deal, there were some limitations as to what we could and could not order so as to avoid any supplementary charges. However, we did know about this in advance as it was clearly detailed on the Groupon voucher we signed up for and subsequently printed off.
We paid £15.50 which entitled us to two starters, two main courses, rice and Popadoms. The £15.50 charge did not include any beverages, desserts or chutneys. We were allowed to choose anything off the menu except any of the prawn dishes and the Chilli & Lime Special Biriani. This certainly didn't pose us any problems at all as there were plenty of other dishes to choose from, and I mean plenty.
We had pre-booked our table for 7.30pm on a Tuesday night, and although we ate fairly early, we certainly weren't the earliest arrivals. The restaurant was about 40% full when we got there.
We were greeted as soon as we arrived even though the bar man was on the telephone. They immediately collected our Groupon voucher from us and then showed us to a small table for two towards the back of the restaurant. We were then given menus and our drinks order taken immediately. My partner was delighted to see draught Kingfisher lager at a very reasonable price of £2.95 per pint... and proceeded to celebrate the fact by downing three of them in the course of the evening. As usual I was driving so I made do with half a lager shandy.
We started off with two Popadoms, and decided to pay the extra £1.20 to have the chutney tray brought with them (yes, I know - the extravagance of the Bollinger household holds no bounds...). The mango chutney was very nice, but I thought that the Raitha was a little tired and needed freshening up a tad. As per usual I avoided the lime pickle and onion salad, the former as it's bitter and strong and the latter as it repeats on you. Himself never learns and dived headlong into the fiery lime pickle, only to regret it once it prompted a coughing fit. A swift call for another pint of Kingfisher sorted him out and some kind of normality was resumed.
We don't normally have starters when we visit an Indian as you always find yourself full enough with Popadoms, rice and Naan bread. However, as our Groupon deal included two starters, it would have been churlish to refuse them. I plumped for a Tandoori Mix Kebab (£4.50) which consisted of chicken Tikka, lamb Tikka and Sheek kebab. I thought it would come on a skewer and I would have to do the usual thing of trying to remove the spot-welded meat from the stick. However, the kitchen had already removed the stick for me, and I was served a dish of large chunks of meat garnished with iceberg lettuce, a slice of lemon and a drizzle of Tandoori sauce. The chicken Tikka pieces were simply delicious, moist to the middle and subtly spicy to the outside. The lamb was nearly as good, but less flavoursome and a bit more chewy. The Sheek kebab (minced lamb mixed with herbs and spices and reformed into a sausagey looking object) was tasty enough, but not as pleasing as the other items on the plate. My partner chose the Chicken Pakura (£3.20) described as chicken mixed with herbs and spices, coated in batter and then deep-fried. I thought it might be a bit greasy but the chicken pieces had been very lightly fried, and retained all of their moisture as well as a delicate hint of spice. Very nice - I know because I pinched one.
For our main courses, we both ordered our perennial favourites. My dish of preference in an Indian is always a Biriani, and at Chilli & Lime I chose the Mixed Biriani of chicken, lamb and prawns at £8.90...hoping that the inclusion of prawns in this dish would not contravene the terms of our Groupon deal (luckily it didn't). The Chilli & Lime version consisted of chunks of lightly spiced lamb Tikka, chicken Tikka and small prawns, all fried and mixed with Basmati rice. I rather enjoyed my Biriani, although it was a little too salty for my tastes, probably resulting from the prawns. There were plenty of meaty chunks of lamb and chicken as well as prawns mixed in with the Basmati rice. The vegetable curry was very tasty, with plenty of small chunks of vegetable in it. I do dislike it when they serve vegetable curries with whacking great lumps of boiled potato, but this one was more finely diced.
Himself chose a Tandoori Mixed Grill (£8.90) which is served with Naan bread and a bowl of fresh salad. He also ordered a portion of Pilau Rice at £2.50, though he did struggle to finish it all. The Tandoori Mixed Grill consists of chunks of chicken Tikka, lamb Tikka, a chicken portion marinated in Tandoori sauce and the same sausage shaped Sheek kebab I had included in my starter. He thoroughly enjoyed his Mixed Grill pronouncing the chicken Tikka and Tandoori both as being particularly succulent and tasty.
The food was all served piping hot and there was no noticeable delay between ordering and delivery of courses. We decided against puddings - not just because they weren't included in the Groupon deal - but mainly as they were the usual uninspiring range of bought-in ice-cream themed desserts at ridiculously high prices. I really don't want to pay £5 for a chocolate and vanilla ice-cream decorated with flaky curls and a dollop of UHT frozen squirty cream. We also decided to forgo the coffees as himself was awash with lager, Naan and rice and couldn't manage anymore....until he managed to squeeze in the wafer thin mint* that came with the bill.
*Fortunately he didn't explode à la Monty Python...which was just as well as it would have made a terrible mess of their brown and orange colour scheme.
~~~ SERVICE ~~~
The service was very friendly and efficient. The staff (all male) were smartly-dressed in shirts and ties and they were all attentive but not intrusive. Unfortunately, they didn't really explain how the Groupon voucher worked, but we managed to work it out for ourselves as we looked at the menu.
The bill came to a very reasonable £12.40 - which was mostly made up of lager and the small charge for the chutneys we'd had with our Popadoms. I was pleased to note that I hadn't been charged any supplement despite the fact my main course did contain a few prawns. All in all, we paid just under £28.00 for our evening meal (£12.40 plus our prepaid Groupon voucher of £15.50), which I thought was excellent value.
~~~ DO I RECOMMEND CHILLI & LIME? ~~~
I was rather impressed that our Groupon deal turned out to be exactly what it said on the proverbial tin - a good deal. The food was nicely cooked and generous of portion. The restaurant is clean, welcoming and comfortable, albeit a little on the dark side. That said, I'm not so sure it's special enough to warrant a return visit where we'd have to pay full price. Havant is a bit of a trek for us, and we can get similar fare much closer to our doorstep and at the same sort of price. Chilli & Lime is a perfectly pleasant venue, and I would go back...but only if there was a deal to be had. And I shall definitely be partaking of the next Groupon deal that appeals to us.
Four stars from me.
~~~ OPENING HOURS AND FURTHER DETAILS ~~~
Chilli & Lime
58 West Street
Tel: 02392 484273 or 02392 481303
- Chilli & Lime is open seven days a week for both for dinner and takeaways, but they are closed on Friday and Saturday lunchtimes. Opening hours are: Lunch (Sunday to Thursday only) 12.00pm to 2.00pm and Dinner (seven days a week) - 5.30pm to 11.30pm (midnight closure on Friday and Saturday nights).
- All the major credit cards are accepted.
- Disabled access is good as the restaurant is all on ground floor level. However, be aware that the men's toilet is a little small and would be unlikely to fit a wheelchair. The ladies facilities are much roomier.
- Chilli & Lime is part of a Hampshire group that also runs Mela in Clanfield and Shalimar in Waterlooville