“ Address: 22-23 The Boardwalk / Port Solent / Hampshire / PO6 4TP „
Dinner at Rimjhim is a deal that seems to crop up fairly regularly on the deals page I am emailed every day from Groupon. It's not a deal that has appealed to me much in the past as Rimjhim is a bit of a trek from where I live, and my partner has never been all that keen to travel any distance for a curry when we have a perfectly decent Indian take-away and restaurant less than a mile from our front door. Back in October, Rimjhim came up yet again on the daily Groupon offer and I swiftly deleted it as not being of interest. However, the following day I received an email with a difference from Groupon which was giving me £5 of any deal of my choice with them. I'm afraid the thought of a bargain over rode any misgivings I may have had, and I purchased the Rimjhim Groupon deal for £13 (discounted from £18) despite the fact that my partner was still none too keen. "You can't go wrong at that price", I insisted. "We'll see", himself muttered ominously. So who was going to be right, and who was going to be proved oh so very wrong?
The deal at Rimjhim was for a two course Indian meal for two worth £45.20 at the discounted price of £18.00. Groupon took £5 off the deal price and I also got a further 5.05% of the deal by going through Top Cashback. Groupon then emailed the deal voucher to me as you have to print it off and take it with you to the restaurant.
We visited Rimjhim on a Tuesday night in late November. I tried to reserve the table using their online booking system, but we had no way of knowing if the reservation had been successful as they don't send out email confirmations. I then telephoned Rimjhim to see if they had our booking, but the chap I spoke to had a very poor grasp of English and did not understand my query. In the end I just booked the table verbally with him, as he didn't seem to understand that they offered an online booking system as well. Groupon strongly recommend that you reserve your table in advance and make it clear that you have a Groupon voucher. Whilst I appreciate that this is necessary if the deal has had a huge uptake and spaces are at a premium, it does unfortunately have a knock on effect of advertising that your party is on the cheapie deal. This, therefore, gives the restaurant plenty of time to allocate the worst table in the house to you and to speak to the chef about scaling down the portions!
~*~ THE FUTURE'S BRIGHT...THE FUTURE'S ORANGE ~*~
Rimjhim is in a lovely location as it overlooks the water at Port Solent near Portsmouth in Hampshire. Port Solent is a marina with easy access to the Solent/English Channel. There is a huge residential area there mostly made up of keen sailors who moor their boats nearby. Around the marina is the Broadwalk with lots of different restaurants, bars and boutiques - all fairly upmarket and quite expensive. It's really best appreciated in the summer as you can stroll along the Broadwalk and admire the views across the water. It's a super place to sit outside and admire the boats moored nearby and work out which one you'd buy if that lottery win ever comes in. As we went on a dark November night, there wasn't much we could view and it was definitely too cold to sit outside.
There is a large car park at Port Solent and it's free to park there for as long as you wish. You need to park your car at the top of the entrance to the venue and then walk down a flight of steps into the entrance gates for the Broadwalk. The Broadwalk is made up of dark slatted planks and it's a great place to stroll about and wander into the various boutiques or sit and admire the boats. If you don't fancy a curry, there are plenty of high street names at Port Solent such as Pizza Express, Chiquitos, Prezzo, Chimichanga, Zizzi and Harvester as well as independent venues. There is also an Odeon cinema and a couple of gyms too. Rimjhim is located at the east end of the Broadwalk and like so many units there has great views over the marina and a nice outside seating area.
The décor at Rimjhim is either fashionably retro...or it hasn't been redone since the 1970's. It's all done out in rather hideous oranges and browns coupled with huge orange shaded lights on long strings suspended from the ceiling. You'd think that all the orange and brown would make the venue rather dark, but the orange theme at Rimjhim is so plentiful and eye-wincingly vibrant you almost need shades to deal with it. The bar is orange fronted, the lighting is orange, the chairs are orange, the walls are orange and just in case there's not quite enough orange, they've put a tango coloured dado rail all around the top of the room. Luckily for the customers, the management at Rimjhim have sensibly decided to keep the staff in black and white uniforms rather than deck them out in orange as that really would be much too much.
The restaurant is all one big room with plenty of tables and chairs for parties of all sizes. As you enter Rimjhim there is a small waiting area set out with a table and a couple of chairs at which to wait for either your takeaway. On the night we dined there, it was full to be bursting, and I suspect anyone popping in for a quick curry without a reservation would have been disappointed. The tables were all quite close together and I would imagine you could definitely eavesdrop on nearby parties. I say imagine, as I really couldn't put any eavesdropping into practice due to the location of our table. As I said in a previous paragraph, alerting a restaurant to the fact you're on a Groupon deal can sometimes have a detrimental affect on your dining experience, and that was definitely the case at Rimjhim. We were, without a doubt, on the very worst table in the house. A small table for two directly in front of the bar and slap bang in front of the door to the kitchen. Our conversation was constantly muffled out by the traffic to and from the bar and the even steadier path of the waiting staff going in and out of the kitchen. One could barely hear oneself think let alone converse with one's dining companion.
~*~ THE MENU ~*~
The menu at Rimjhim offers all the usual range of curries, baltis and bhajis we all know and love. Their restaurant makes a big thing of the fact that they've had the same chef for 18 years and that he cooks all the Indian favourites and adds in a "Rimjhim twist". However, I really cannot see where the special Rimjhim twist comes in, as the menu doesn't appear to be offering anything out of the ordinary - it's the same range of dishes you'd find in 1,001 curry houses the length and breadth of Britain. Perhaps their long-serving chef needs to take some time off from the tiller at Rimjhim and come up with some new ideas :o( The food we ate was distinctly average and nothing special at all, and I've eaten much tastier and better seasoned dishes elsewhere.
The menu at Rimjhim includes all our favourites from a range of Balti, Briyani, Korma, Tikka, Tandoori, Dhansak, Jalfrazi, Shaslik, Madras and good old Vindaloo dishes. House specialities at Rimjhim don't sound particularly special nor interesting, and include things like Pickled Chicken Curry (Tender pieces of chicken cooked in homemade masala sauce, rich flavours given by pickles) or Rimjhim Chicken (Strips of corn fed chicken breast with onion, peppers, mushroom andesh green chillies). I thought that Duck Curry with Orange sounded positively vile - an Indian take on Duck à l'Orange by all accounts...ugh.
Unfortunately the descriptions with the dishes are rather brief on the Rimjhim menu, and you need to be a bit of a curry connoisseur to understand what's on offer. For example you have Rajasthani Style Lamb Leg Curry which is described as "spice braised lamb cooked in special Rajasthani sauce", but you get no clues as to what's in the Rajasthani sauce at all, nor as to how hot it is. If you're a novice to Indian cooking then the menu descriptions won't give you much of an idea as to what each dish consists of. The descriptions also fail to point out how spicy or mild any particular dish is, which is most remiss of them. I would imagine you could ask your waiter (as they were all very friendly if somewhat rushed) but it would help if the menu was a little more descriptive or had some symbols next to the individual dishes to denote their spiciness.
Bearing in mind their location is overlooking a marina, I'm guessing their rent is quite high, so the prices at Rimjhim are definitely above average for a curry house. Starters begin at £3.95 and go up to a maximum of £11.95. Main course prices range from £7.20 up to more expensive prawn based dishes at £13.25. I'm obviously not going to list the full menu here, but if you fancy a look then it's on their website at http://www.rimjhimportsolent.com/?pageid​=94
~*~ DINNER FOR TWO GROUPON STYLE ~*~
We were greeted as soon as we arrived and shown to our table, which was in the middle of the room between the bar and the entrance to the kitchen, so not the best of starts. The waiter immediately collected our Groupon voucher from us and gave us menus.
Our Groupon deal entitled us to two starters, two main courses and rice. As we were on the Groupon deal, there were some limitations as to what we could order and the voucher we received specified that we could not choose any "platters or specials". We presumed that they meant that none of the Rimjhim Specials were on offer to us, but we didn't understand where the platters came in. Unfortunately our waiter failed to explain exactly what was on offer, so we muddled through and worked it out for ourselves, hoping our choices would not incur a supplement. We certainly weren't bothered by the fact that the Rimjhim Specials were unavailable to us as they seemed to be neither special nor interesting.
We started off with four popadoms and the waiter bought a tray of chutneys to have with them whilst we perused the menu. All the chutney dishes were very nice and freshly made. We don't normally have starters when we have a curry, but as they were included in the Groupon deal it would have been churlish to have passed them up on this occasion. I had Sweet and Sour Squid - ginger tossed sweet and sour squid with fresh coriander (£4.95) and my partner had Salmon Tikka - pink salmon matured in a mildly spiced marinade of dill mustard, honey and green chilli cooked in a tandoor (£6.95). I really enjoyed my squid dish which comprised of 5 or 6 rings of calamari/squid lightly cooked and doused with a sweetish ginger sauce. The dish was liberally sprinkled with freshly chopped coriander which added plenty of colour and freshness to the dish. I tried a tiny bit of my partner's salmon and that was very tasty too. The salmon had been marinated in an orangey red Tikka paste which leant more than a little spice to the plate, but inside the zesty crust, the salmon was still very moist and pink. Both our starters were very good and it boded well for the main event. Sadly the main courses failed to live up to expectations.
I had Lamb Briyani - basmati rice flavoured with saffron and cooked with raisins, nuts, onions, spices and served with vegetable curry sauce (£9.95). I love a briyani done well, but this was by far one of the worst I'd ever had the misfortune to order. There were plenty of chunks of strong tasting lamb in the dish, but I suspect the chef used mutton rather than lamb, as it was a very chewy meat and quite strong in flavour. The vegetable curry sauce was of a nice consistency, and wasn't overly spicy. However, the basmati rice with the briyani dish was past its best. The rice was soggy and prone to clumping into big dollops. The dish was also a lot spicier than any briyani I've eaten in the past and it was a struggle to swallow it. I like briyani dishes as they tend to be on the milder side of the spicy spectrum, but this one was far too fiery for me. I was also disappointed by not just the sogginess of the rice, but the lack of special ingredients in it. Saffron infused rice should be a pale yellow colour and this was creamy coloured, so I'm not so sure it contained any saffron at all. Added to which, it most definitely did not contain any of the raisins or nuts given on the menu description. All in all it was one of the most disappointing briyanis I've ever eaten.
My partner plumped for his usual Tandoor Mixed Grill(£10.95) which he always tends to eat when we go for a curry. This was described on the menu as "Tandoori dishes are marinated for several hours in a yoghurt sauce with several different special Bombay spices and herbs, and then cooked in a clay oven. Served with Salad and Naan Bread", so not much of a clue as to what the mixed grill element consisted off! It transpired that the Rimjhim Tandoori Mixed Grill consists of Chicken Tikka, Lamb Tikka, Tandoori chicken portion and a spicy sausage. He enjoyed their version of a mixed grill, but again, it was slightly spicier than he has been used to in previous mixed grills. He did say that the Keema Naan he had with the dish was one of the best he's ever eaten though.
Despite our Groupon deal including rice with our main courses, this did not turn up as expected. We're not sure if they forgot it or we were supposed to order it. We wondered if they decided we did not need it as my briyani dish came with rice anyway. Either way, it would have been nice to have been asked or had the menu deal clarified to us. That said, the food was all generous of portion and served piping hot and in a good, timely manner. We decided against desserts as they were the usual range of uninspiring frozen pre-packaged "delights" you get in so many curry houses, you know, all ice-cream and squirty UHT cream. We had a couple of coffees instead to round off our meal, and received the obligatory chocolate mint with them.
~*~ ANYTHING ELSE? ~*~
The staff (all male apart from one lone female) were smartly-dressed in black and white and I must say that the service at Rimjhim was very efficient and rather quick. Sadly they didn't take the time to explain how the Groupon voucher worked at their restaurant so we had to work it out for ourselves from the menu.
Drinks on offer at Rimjhim are on the expensive side. A pint of draught Fosters costs £3.70, and it's even more if you want draught Indian lager such as Kingfisher - that's £3.90 per pint. They also serve large bottles of both Cobra and Kingfisher lager at £5.95, or you can stick to Corona lager, Magners cider or London Pride ale. A glass of Coca Cola will set you back a whopping £2.10 at Rimjhim. If wine is more your tipple then the venue offers a house wine at £15.10 for a bottle or £4.10 per glass.
The bill came to an unexpected £20.12 as it had not been pointed out to us there was a charge for the chutney tray, nor that a 10% service charge was going to applied to the whole bill (including the £18 Groupon fee). We left exactly the right amount as did not feel the need to add a further tip. All in all we paid just over £33 for our evening meal (£20.12 plus our pre-paid Groupon voucher of £18, less £5 off), which on the face of it seemed like fairly good value, but we felt slightly ripped off to be honest. I like to leave a discretionary tip and not have a £3.50 charge added to the bill without any say so. I also thought that charging us for the chutneys was rather petty and unnecessary. They were swift enough to plonk them on the table without asking us if we wanted them, but failed to mention they were an extra. However, it seems I'm not alone in my antipathy towards the hidden charges at Rimjhim - several reviewers on Trip Advisor refer to their disgust over their final bill as well. They really should be more upfront about their charges, especially the service charge, and not just assume their diners are going to swallow them without a murmur.
~*~ RECOMMENDED? NO, NOT REALLY! ~*~
"If it seems to be too good to be true then it probably is" how I'd sum up our visit to Rimjhim. On the face of it, we'd snagged a bargain from Groupon, but you get what you pay for and the reality was pretty grim. I'll admit it...much as it pains me to say it, I was wrong and he was right. There are lessons to be learned here are as we got exactly what we paid for and it wasn't good.
Although the service was keen and the portions generous at Rimjhim, our night out was spoiled by all the rest of the problems we encountered during the course of our meal. The worst table in the house certainly didn't kick things off well, but this was compounded by disappointing main courses, the non-appearance of our rice and the all the extra charges they managed to sneak onto the bill. I particularly disliked the 10% service charge and having to pay extra for the chutney tray. Rimjhim is most definitely not good enough to warrant a return visit, even if there is another discounted Groupon deal on offer. Next time I shall heed my partner's advice, and avoid succumbing to any deals to be had there! We'll be sticking to our usual Indian restaurant just up the road from our house, where the chutney is free and the service discretionary.
Two stars from me....and quite frankly I think that's on the generous side.
~*~ FURTHER DETAILS ~*~
22-23 The Boardwalk
* Rimjhim is open seven days a week from 12.00pm to 11.00pm (Sunday closure is at 10.30pm)
* All the major credit cards are accepted.
* Access is good as the restaurant is all on ground floor level. There is also a specially designated disabled toilet.
* Port Solent is situated just off the A27 and is easily accessed from Cosham, Porchester and Portsmouth railway stations