Dine Like a Mogul in Walton-on-Thames
The Mogul (Walton-on-Thames)
Member Name: Hishyeness
The Mogul (Walton-on-Thames)
Advantages: Excellent food and service. Convivial atmosphere. Value for money.
Disadvantages: A little off the beaten track, but otherwise none to speak of.
In times past, one of the first things I tried to establish as soon as I moved into a new area was the quality of the various Indian and Chinese establishments in the neighbourhood. Fortunately, although my devotion to the Slimming World plan has significantly reduced the frequency of nights out to local eateries, I discovered excellent Mogul well before my self-imposed exile from oriental cuisine. As it happens, with a bit of common sense, a sympathetic chef and judicious menu choices, a night out at the curry house need not be a calorific disaster.
The Mogul anchors a parade of shops on Terrace Road, just past Cottimore Lane, on the Molesey side of Walton-on-Thames. It's around a ten minute walk from the bottom of the High Street. Unfortunately, the only realistic option is to drive there, as Walton-on-Thames station is on the opposite end of town, well over a mile away. This being outer London suburbia, buses are not a realistic option either.
Our introduction to the Mogul came through our letterbox. They do an excellent and reliable take-away service, but it wasn't entirely obvious from the literature that they had a full service restaurant. I noticed a significant discount being offered on orders for collection, so one evening, I made the short journey up the road to retrieve our dinner and was surprised to find myself at a relatively well-heeled establishment, heaving with punters - at 7pm on a Thursday night!
There were at least four or five other people waiting to collect their dinner in a thoughtfully placed waiting area with comfy chairs and slightly out of date magazines, so I immediately resolved to come and dine at the restaurant at the next available opportunity. We settled on a Tuesday night a couple of weeks later and it has since become our local curry house of choice.
On our last visit (and the one on which this review is mainly based) we went relatively early (6:30pm) to ensure we could get our excitable four year old to bed at a reasonable hour. We were met immediately and courteously by a friendly waiter in immaculate white shirt and shown to our table. There were only a few other diners in the establishment at the time, so we had our pick of the place.
The interior is tastefully decorated in a modern style. It's not going to win any design awards, but the chairs are comfortable and there is a reasonable amount of space between the tables. A highchair was offered for our daughter, but she's much too "grown-up" for such things, so we carry around a portable booster for her.
MENU & SERVICE
Service is quick and attentive and there always seems to be someone to hand whenever you need something - even on busier nights. The owner is almost always on site, and although we are infrequent visitors, he always seems to recognise us. Mention of our address (where his boys deliver at least two or three times a month) is usually greeted with a knowing smile and the delivery to the table of some free poppadums. Our man clearly knows which side his naan is buttered. We have always been made to feel very welcome.
The menu is extensive and well described with all of the usual suspects present (Tandoori grills, Balti and Biryani and curries at various levels of spice and a wide variety of sauces). Starters average around £3 with two sharing options the £5 Vegetable Platter and the £7 Tikka Kebab Platter. Mains range from the basic curries around £6 to more expensive options (invariably including King Prawn) topping out at just over a tenner. I often use side orders to benchmark costs against similar places, and the Mogul compares favourably - £1.80 for plain naan, £2.30 for pilau rice, and £3 for a vegetable side dish. This place is clearly not going to abuse your wallet too much.
I don't intend to run through the widely available standard dishes, but will instead focus on the House specialities, which include delectable creations such as Kashmiri Tikka Massala (cooked with banana and pineapple), the excellent Lamb Pasanda (with a touch of red wine) and the unreservedly recommended Hayrali Chicken Massala (cooked with spinach, mint and coriander - this stuff is to die for).
The Mogul also does a number of good value Set Menu's catering for parties of various sizes, which usually represent a ten to twenty percent discount over ordering the items individually. The wine list is extensive, but I have never dabbled, preferring instead a pint of Kingfisher or Cobra.
I was being diet conscious, but my wife was taking "a break", so our choices reflected our different objectives. As usual, two poppadums appeared without the need to ask accompanied by the usual gubbins (lime pickle, mango chutney, raita and chopped onion) bringing a cry of delight from my daughter (she loves them to bits).
We decided to share a Hayrali Chicken starter (£3.20) which consists of marinated chunks of chicken in a spinach and coriander paste, barbecued in the clay oven. The three large cubes of chicken arrived on a fresh bed of salad, with a complimentary dish of battered and deep fried aubergine. Needless to say, my wife's delight was mirrored by my dismay at the unanticipated addition!
The chicken was perfectly cooked - moist, succulent and bursting with flavour - and with my wife preoccupied by the bonus aubergine, and my daughter perfectly content with her "puppydum" I surreptitiously snaffled a second morsel, savouring the well-balanced flavours of fresh coriander and that slightly burnt charcoal-like taste that enhances barbecue so nicely.
Our mains were a Lamb Shashlik (£7.50) for me - barbecued chunks of lamb brought out on a sizzling hot plate with fresh tomato, peppers and onions, and a Chicken Tikka Massala (£6.80) for my wife. My lamb was excellent, flavourful and very tender, with the onions nicely caramelised by the hot plate. I tried a little of my wife's Massala (she was in no mood to talk) and it was well balanced, not too sweet and quite creamy, with expertly cooked chicken. Having foregone a saucy dish, I was feeling virtuous and made a play for some of my wife's lovely looking naan. The back of my hand is still smarting!
Portions were very generous, so the decision to share a starter (freebie notwithstanding) looked wise. Our meal was accompanied by one order of plain rice (for me) and one of pilau rice, a naan bread and an order of Sag Aloo (spinach and potato). The Sag Aloo was quite moist and delicious, and absent the shimmering pool of ghee that can sometimes afflict such dishes.
VALUE & FACILITIES
We never order separately for our daughter, as she is usually quite content to pick from what we get for ourselves. For drinks, we shared a bottle of still mineral water and I opted for a bottle of Kingfisher. In this context, a bill of £40 to feed the three of us was very reasonable (i.e. essentially £20 a head). All major credit cards (including Amex) are accepted. The toilets are clean, if a little dated, with disabled facilities provided.
The best compliment I can pay this excellent establishment is that they keep us coming back for more. Service is top notch, the food is outstanding, and the owner ensures his customers feel welcome and valued. If you are ever in the area and fancy something other than the usual High Street chain establishments in Walton's new Heart shopping centre - or don't mind a ten minute drive from Hampton Court if you're visiting - you could do far worse than the Mogul. Highly recommended.
66 Terrace Road
Surrey KT12 2SD
01932 223 319
Open 7 days a week (including holidays)
Lunch: Noon to 2:30pm
Dinner: 5:30pm to 11pm
© Hishyeness 2009
Summary: Our favourite home town curry house