Newest Review: ... that it was a restaurant when you drove past. Anyway, due to various circumstances we only went back there again recently to find it had b... more
Was it all a dream?
Himchuli Restaurant (Camberley)
Member Name: grahamt
Himchuli Restaurant (Camberley)
Advantages: Good food ; decent prices
Disadvantages: Lack of wine choice : eccentric service
We are great fans of Nepalese cuisine and, with the history of Gurkha troops and their historic association with Aldershot, the prevalence of Nepalese restaurants in the area is high, as retiring soldiers seek to start new ways of life now that the Government has finally recognised that they have earned their right to stay in Britain after putting their lives on the line in our defence. Strangely though, only one such restaurant exists in nearby Camberley, the Himchuli, now occupying yet another closed pub (The Crown), on London Road, the A30.
So, on a Tuesday night, my wife and I took our reserved table in an otherwise less than full restaurant. We had arrived by taxi as neither of us wanted have to watch what we were drinking because of a need to drive home. Where the Himchuli is located, this is probably a good move anyway: parking around here is not good. Mostly you would have to park on the main A30 that passes outside the front door.
Our first impression of the restaurant was that it had been well fitted out and decorated for it's new function and was clean and well maintained. The tables weren't too close together so you are unlikely to feel uncomfortable in the close company of other diners. The other diners already there appeared to be enjoying a night out from their duties at the Farnborough Airshow, by their overheard conversations. I don't know if they were regulars during that week; for us it was our first time.
We scanned through the menu and were surprised to find that far from it being predominantly oriented towards distinctly Nepalese cuisine, the choices on offer were as much standard Indian fare as anything else. Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken were there, along with seeming hybrids like Nepali Chicken Masala and various Tandoori dishes.
We were asked if would like drinks and decided that we would stick with just a bottle of wine. We had seen on the offered wine menu one of our all-time favourite wines - Chateau Musar from the Lebanon; both the well-known red plus the less well-known white were apparently available. Not so! The restaurant in fact only had two different wines, both white! The excuse given was that they were changing suppliers and so their stock had been seriously depleted; a very unsatisfactory excuse! The only acceptable wine was a Chablis, but at an unacceptable price of over £20. However, we were offered it at a £5 discount, in compensation for the inconvenience!
So, onto the meal and, to begin with, the Starters. My wife had the Lamb Sekuwa whilst I chose the Pork Butuwa. Both were excellent other than they came with those metal lemon slice squeezers with a small slice of lemon. Now, I don't know if the lemon was simply a bit old and dry or whether the slice simply wasn't thick enough but, try as we may, no juice could be squeezed out of either slice! We even demonstrated to the waiter but, apart from an embarrassed smile, no solution was proposed. Mind you, by that stage we'd finished the food anyway.
For the main course my wife chose the Himchuli Sizzling Tandoori King Prawn whilst I decided on the Nepali Chicken Masala. Both were very tasty and perfectly cooked. There was more than enough on the plate for a main course and left us satisfied.
By this time we were looking for dessert and coffee (well, coffee for my wife: I don't drink the stuff). However, looking over at the coffee machine, there seemed to be none available: the flask was clearly empty. Eventually, the waiter came over; no desserts were offered! So, by then we'd had enough so we paid the bill (just under £50) and left.
On the way home we looked at each other and said did that really all happen or was it just a dream? We're still not sure. I am tempted to go back again some time in the future just to see if the experience is repeated. I mean, it's not as if the restaurant hasn't been there long. If our experience had been the norm, I'm sure they wouldn't still be in business.
Don't get me wrong, the food, such as it was, was excellent; no complaints there. The service, however, was simply bizarre. Maybe there were problems in the kitchen, of which we were not aware. Maybe there simply wasn't enough staff. It's not as though we had caught them unprepared: even though it was a weekday evening, I had booked in advance, so they knew we were coming.
If you decide to check the Himchuli out for yourself, let us know what your experience is. I can't believe that this is anything more than catching them on a bad day but then again...
Summary: Camberley's only Nepalese restaurant