“ 2 Post Office Avenue,Inverness, IV1 1DN, United Kingdom, Tel:+44 1463 237 190 „
These days Inverness seems to be turning into a little off branch of India with Indian restaurants on every street - not that I'm complaining I would quite happily eat Indian cuisine every day if it wasn't quite so calorie laden.
The Rajah is the oldest Indian restuarant in the Highlands having opened in 1982 and has fought off stiff competition to remain one of the top Indian's in Inverness.
If you didn't know where the restuarant was you would most likely never find it. Tucked away in a little lane behind the post office on Academy Street - it certainly isn't the easiest to spot. Especially when you pass 3 other Indian restuarants to get to it! However, I think the fact that the restuarant is nearly always full in spite of this shows what a great little place this is!
Talking of little, the restaurant is rather small, probably seating only around 60 people. The extensive use of mirrors does make it seem deceptively larger though.
Parking around here is not the easiest. You will have to park on one of the streets outside and these get rather busy in the evenings. However, there is a nearby NCP parking at the bus station or you can park in the TK Maxx car park. Both are only a short walk away - and you'll probably need a little walk after all the food!
The restaurant is underground and is acccessible by a number of steps. I have been with my elderly people who have walking difficulties however, and they have managed it ok. However, it is definately not wheelchair accessible.
Once in the restaurant you can take a seat in their lounge waiting area whilst enjoying a drink from the bar. You'll definately see a few others here waiting to pick up their takeaways!
The decor of the restaurant is that of a typical Indian restaurant - slightly tacky and over the top, but that's generally what is to be expected.
After taking your seat, the waiters will offer you popadoms and a pickle tray - something I have to have at the start of an Indian meal. Their mint yoghurt dip is delicious and I also recommend their spiced onions.
The selection of starters contains the usual chicken tikka, pakoras and my personal favourite chicken chaat. They are certainly not stingy with their portions here and I only recommend having a starter if you are really hungry (or your eyes are bigger than your belly - which mine usually are when it comes to Indian food!).
The main courses again include all the usuals massala, korma, patia, dupiaza and biryani. If you have never tried it before I suggest you give the Mohanwala a go. It's similar to a Korma but with cheese in and is absolutely divine. My partner's favourite, he moans if we go somewhere that doesn't have this one of the menu. On the menu, a coloured chilli beside each item outlines how spicy you should expect the curry to be. Chicken Tikka, Lamb Tikka, Vegeatable and King Prawn are available for each of the currys ranging from £7 for a veg curry to £14 for the prawn curry.
If you fancy your curry a little different you can try it Balti style. It comes cooked and served in a clay wok like bowl. The portions are huge and when you see your wok arriving on the table you might be a bit worried as to how you're going to eat it all.
The usual selction of rice and naan are also availble - pilau rice and garlic naan being my personal favourites. The currys are rather creamy here so I recommend getting a naan to scoop up the remainder of the sauce (making myself hungry here!!).
There is the usual selection of European food on the menu here including Steak and Omelletes. My grandfather cannot abide spicy food so this is great for him as it means the rest of us can enjoy a good curry without worrying about him.
All of the portions here are very generous and by now my jeans are feeling a but tight!! However, if you can force down a dessert there is a good selection to choose from. I reccommend the sorbet if you are feeling rather full as this is very refreshing and, supposedly, cleanses the pallet after a meal. If you choose the Lemon sorbet it comes served in Lemon and the Orange comes in a Orange.
The alcoholic coffees are certainly not stingy on their alcohol and I wouldn't recommend them if you are driving.
Service and Facilities
The staff here are always very polite and friendly - that's why the restaurant has been so successful for so long i guess!
The restaurant and toilets are always very clean too.
After your curry you get those little hot napkin wipes to clean your face and hands with - I love these and am always dissapointed when I don't get them at other Indians.
Bookings and Cost
As I previously mentioned this restuarnat is quite small and gets easily booked up, especially at weekends so I thoroughly recommend booking ahead, especially if there is a larger party of you.
The restuarant is well priced with poppadoms and dips, 2 curries, 2 rice, 1 naan and 1/2 a bottle of wine coming in for around £35.
If ordering a takeaway you get 10% of the price and the restuarant also runs a loyalty card scheme although I am not sure what you get with that. There is also a lunch menu on offer too for business lunches.
Although I cannot flaw this restaurant, in any respect, I would rank it only as my 2nd favourite Indian in town. Sam's, just across the road, offers even better food and has the best service in town!! It only opened 18 months ago and is fast becoming a favourite of the locals. It has a very modern decor and offers a selection of specials unique to the restaurant. It is absolutely flawless!!
The Rajah is the longest established Indian restaurant in Inverness - it first opened its doors to the Highland people way back in 1982.
Where Is It?
Deep underground, only accessible from a secret passage....well not quite, but it is just off a small lane at the back of the Post Office, down a flight of stairs below street level. It is slap-bang in the city centre though and handy for the taxi rank, not far from the bus and train station. There is on-street parking close- by too, or you could do what we did and get my Dad to drop you off...
There is a small lounge bar area, where you can wait for your table and have a drink. It is also used as a waiting area for those collecting their takeaway meals (so you don't have to fight your way past them to get in the door!)
Upon arrival, you are warmly greeting by the immaculately-clad waiters in their white jackets with gold braid epaulettes. Your jackets are whisked away and hung up for you (I hate having to hang mine on the back of my chair only to have every passing sod going to and from the toilet treading on it, grrrr!)
And so through to the Restaurant. It is deceptively small. Lots of mirrors make it appear larger than it actually is but to my calculations it probably only seats about 60-70 diners at any one time. There are comfortable padded chairs and banquette seating round the periphery of the restaurant.
**Warning** watch your head on those lamps hanging above the table - it's easy to bash your head on them when trying to nab the prime seating position with your back to the wall (all the better to people watch). If you just wait 2 seconds the waiter will pull the table out slightly and hold the lamp to one side with a "Watch your head now, Madam" (Not that this happened to anyone I know, obviously....)
I'm not going to go into great detail describing the décor, you'll be glad to know. If you really want to know have a look at their website (details at end of review); suffice it to say, you're underground, there are no windows and no view other than your fellow diners.
I have eaten here regularly over the past year or so, most recently at the end of last month. I have never been disappointed with the food and I have never left hungry!
We normally just share starters, sometimes papadums with the generous chutney and pickle tray, sometimes the delicious and tender Chicken Pakora, with the spicy accompanying sauce and on the last visit we sampled the Tandoori Mixed Kebabs. I am not a fan of lamb in any form so my husband was delighted to have my share on this occasion - he fell silent while he savoured it, before reluctantly offering me a taste. His relief was evident when I declined, and he fell silent again while he savoured the remaining pieces. Tasty, tender, succulent, delicious - just some of the words he came up with when I asked him to describe the experience (for review purposes - he knows the script). The Chicken Tikka Tandoori was certainly very tasy and tender, the yogurt sauce alongside adding a piquancy to the taste experience.
I advocate showing restrain as far as starters are concerned as portions are more than generous at the Rajah. Of course we could pass on the naan bread, paratha or pilauo rice - but we don't.....
And so to the main act. There is the usual selection of Tandoori, Balti, Biryani and popular curry dishes with options of chicken, chicken tikka, beef, vegetable or king prawn on most dishes. Something for everyone, certainly.
We usually find ourselves tempted by one of the dishes on the Chef's Specials section. The Mahonwala, with its unusual sauce incorporating cream, yogurt, almonds and cheese is probably not one for the calorie conscious (yogurt's healthy though, isn't it?), is a deliciously creamy and mild contrast when teamed with a spicier curry.
On our last visit I plumped for a chicken Jaipur, a medium-hot dish with lots of tender chicken, onions and green peppers and generously strewn with cashew nuts. My lamb-guzzling other half went for the Balti Garlic Chilli Chicken Tikka, which is a very hot, but still extremely palatable dish. The accompanying rice, naan and paratha were tasty and hot (lukewarm food is a pet hate of mine).
They do offer the bog-standard Continental Dishes of Sirloin Steak, Chicken Maryland, Omelettes and chips, but quite frankly, why anyone would order these in an Indian Restaurant is beyond me.....
I have never had a dessert here and so can't comment fully, but as far as I can remember there were a couple of Indian ice-cream-type desserts and then a card of those bought-in ice cream dessert (orange sorbet inside half an orange and the like).
I have had a liqueur coffee though and that certainly hit the spot!
I can also confirm that the House Red and the draught Kingfisher lager went down extremely well.....
The service is superb here. I particularly like the fact that the main courses are served using a wooden trolley which is wheeled to your table, thus your curry, rice, bread and any other accompaniments all arrive at your table at the same time.
The waiters are professional, courteous, experienced, friendly and attentive without being in your face. Some of them seem to have been there since the place opened! They don't get sniffy when you ask for jugs of iced tap water either.
They provide food warmers on your table to keep your curry piping hot and give you little hot towels after your main course to freshen yourself up. There are proper linen tablecloths and cloth napkins, the cutlery and glasses are always immaculate. (It's often the little things that make me happy!)
The bill is brought promptly when requested, but you never feel like there is an urgency to leave should you want to linger over your wine or coffee.
The Filthy Matter of Lucre
As a rough guide:
Starters: £3 - £6
Curries: £6 - £14
Side Dishes: £4
Chapati, Paratha, Naan & Rice: £1 - £3
On our last visit we had a starter to share, two curries with Chicken Tikka, rice, naan, a paratha and a half litre jug of house red. Our bill was under £40.
I can personally vouch that the Ladies' amenities are clean and well appointed, albeit on the dinky side (but then it is not as though you are going to have a party in there). I absolutely love the tiles in the toilets which have really cute elephants on the border. My husband confirms that the Gents are also clean and on the compact side.
Because the Rajah is down a steep stair, it is not readily accessible for pushchairs and I was unable to verify whether they had a lift for wheelchair access. If this is of concern to you, I would suggest phoning ahead to check the situation.
We usually eat here at the weekends and we always book a table. I would recommend making a reservation regardless of the day of the week to avoid disappointment as it is always very busy of an evening.
Takeaway is available with a 10% discount on the sit-in menu price. They also do a business lunch.
The Rajah has a loyalty card scheme - in the month of November, for example, holders were entitled to 20% off all orders placed before 6pm.
We love the Rajah; it has become our regular eating out haunt when we are up North. I would recommend it to anyone looking for good Indian food in the Highland capital.
Rajah, 2 Post Office Avenue, Inverness, IV1 1DN
01463 237190 or 711525
(This review has been previously posted on Ciao by me under the same username carcraig)
The Highland's oldest Indian restaurant.