“ Address. 72 Regent Street / Cambridge CB2 1DP / Cambs. „
Even though we'd had ages to consult our Good Curry Guide and find a recommended restaurant in Cambridge, we found ourselves in the city with no firm plans. Fortunately our accommodation just two minutes walk from Regent Street where there were lots of restaurants, some Indian, others not, to choose from. I was particularly excited by the prospect of either Turkish or Middle Eastern food but stood by my promise that Himself could have a curry.
All of the restaurants had menus posted in their windows and no restaurant really stood out over any other but Gandhi's just pipped the others because of the portrait of the great man on the sign. We walked in without a reservation at around 8.30pm on a Saturday night and were able to get a table in the downstairs dining room. The first floor appeared to be in use by two large groups, one that arrived while we were there, the other that left during our visit.
Although you couldn't say the place was shabby or really unappealing, there was something rather impersonal, almost clinical, about the very pale blue walls and the harsh lighting; the place would certainly have been a bit cosier had the lighting been dimmed a little. There were only a handful of tables on the ground floor so the number of staff hanging around - five counted at one point - was more than a little excessive. Staff seemed to hover, doing nothing, leaning against the walls and making us feel uncomfortable, and; although they were always right there, they were never communicative, interested in whether we were enjoying the meal or even trying to get us to buy more drinks.
There was nothing very exciting about this menu, even the so called 'specials' were quite ordinary. Unusually when there's just the two of us, we ordered a couple of popadums and pickles in an attempt to draw out the evening. We were staying in a hostel that we weren't in a hurry to get back to, but neither did we want to be sitting in a noisy pub: staying longer in the restaurant was the most appealing option.
Neither main course - lamb dansak for me and a lamb Ceylon for Himself - made much of an impression. Contrary to the appearance of the dishes both contained a fair amount of meat but the pieces were cut quite small and a few were quite fatty. While my dansak contained the required lentils but neither the sweetness nor sour flavours expected of a dansak. The sauce was simply non descript with a modicum of heat but no other distinctive characteristics.
The Ceylon was listed as one of the restaurant's hotter curries but failed to hit the heat mark. It contained only a sprinkling of coconut and, like the dansak, was truly unmemorable. A single portion of rice proved sufficient for two people to share and a couple of very average chappatis completed the mains.
The one consolation was that we weren't over-charged for the meal: in fact, I was amazed how cheap it all was with the mains coming in at just £5.50 each, which would have been an absolute bargain had the food been better. All in popadoms and pickles, two mains, rice, chappatis, a couple of pints and a mango lassi came in at £25.20, far less than I'd expected to pay in Cambridge.
While the Gandhi didn't meet my expectations I can see why it would be popular; the food is cheap and this restaurant is close to a number of pubs so probably gets very busy around throwing out time. The food is OK but not great and after a skinful I'm sure nobody is that worried. I was surprised how many of our fellow diners appeared to be regulars; I can't claim that I'd be in any hurry to rush back.