“ Address: Central Pk / High Street / Cowdenbeath / Fife / KY4 9QQ UK / Telephone: 01383 511101 „
I decided to visit the Shimla Palace in Cowdenbeath after hearing a colleague rave about it and it has since become one of my favourite places for a relaxed place to eat out. It is an Indian buffet restaurant which offers five courses for a fixed price as well as a small range of European meals.
On arriving at the restaurant, I was not impressed by the exterior. I parked in the small rectangular car park and, avoiding the huge potholes, made my way to the shabby looking whitewashed building which looked far from palatial. We made our way inside and a smartly dressed waiter took us to a table and took our drinks orders. While waiting for our drinks to arrive, I took a look around and was impressed with the modern décor; there are around 20 tables downstairs set on lovely wooden floors with a further seating area upstairs. The chairs are high backed mock leather and extremely comfortable and the walls have wooden panels at the bottom and white at the top with loads of pictures and mirrors on the wall. It feels stylish and homely.
When our drink arrived we made our way over to the buffet where the food is served in a series of stainless steel containers along one wall. We started at the salad bar but despite advertising as a five course buffet,I would not consider this a course in itself. There was a selection of definitely non Indian food such as potato salad alongside pickles, sauces, chutneys and salad vegetables. We filled the small stainless steel egg cups and bowls with pakora sauce, raita, spiced onions and mango chutney and I piled some pickled chilli onto my plate and we moved on to the starters.
The starters are where this place excels. I piled my plate high with various pakoras, both vegetable and chicken and plump delicately spiced tandoori chicken pieces. There was chicken in a tikka masalla sauce which melts in the mouth. The haggis pakora deserves a special mention; as you know us Scots love to batter and deep fry things and the spicy haggis is divine in a fiery Indian batter. We made our way back to the table to munch through our pile of goodies and enjoyed dipping them in a variety of sauces.
Soon it was time for our main course. Despite my belly now feeling rather full I again filled my plate with a spoonful of fried rice and sampled several of the curries. There is a good selection of chicken, lamb, beef and a couple of vegetarian options all of the usual sauces were provided such as korma, bhuna and madras. We also had slices of plain, garlic and chilli nan bread and lovely light crispy poppadoms. My fussy little girl took a tiny dot of each of the sauces to try and discovered a few she liked. Who knows, she may eventually turn into a curry fiend like her mum. We again returned to the table and feasted, my belly becoming more engorged by the moment but I simply couldn't resist the mix of flavours and textures. I found the rice slightly greasy but loved the chewy, light nan bread especially the garlic one.
The puddings were a slight let down after the fabulous food we had eaten before. Nestled inside a separate refrigerated display was a selection of cakes and fruit. There are so many fabulous Indian desserts but for some reason most places serve up boring ice cream. I was happy with my fresh fruit salad in its lovely coconut cream and the little one was in heaven as she scooped chocolate ice cream from the freezer onto a plate containing chocolate cake. We also helped ourselves to tea and instant coffee to round off the meal, the coffee wasn't great but the caffeine injection helped to ward off the sluggishness caused by eating so much!
I visited the toilet before we went to pay. I am happy to report that the ladies was clean and bright and had piped music in it. On one occasion we have heard Indian music playing, but on others Elton John or Shania Twain has been playing on repeat on an ancient stereo located beside the bar. I think they need to update their sound system.
We paid for the meal at the bar and were pleased at the price for such a good meal. The service has always been efficient and non intrusive and the waiters, recognising us as regulars, smile and chat when we come in. I've eaten there several times with kids and they have always been made welcome. The Sunday buffet contains things like baked beans and fish fingers and one kid we were with ordered fish and chips from the limited European menu and enjoyed it.
I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone in the area who loves Indian food. It offers great value for money, especially since all of the sundries such as nan bread and sauces are included in the price. It also boasts a well stocked bar and wine list although I tend to stick to fizzy water.
The Shimla Palace
Central Park, High St, Cowdenbeath, KY4 9QQ 01383 511101
Easy to get to from Cowdenbeath High St, it is next to Central Park football stadium.
Limited car parking attached to restaurant but ample free parking in adjacent public car park provided you don't attempt to park there on market day, when there is a football game playing or the stock car racing is on.
5 course buffet meal is £4.95 from 12-4pm, £7.95 Sunday to Thursday evening and £8.95 on Friday and Saturday night. Kids under 12 eat half price.
On Sunday, there is a family buffet with a magic show from 5.30-8.30 and one kid eats free with every adult.