Blumenthall ain't the only Heston in town
I didn’t have a clue what to expect when we ventured gingerly into brunchtime Heston (yes, the place near Hounslow, known only for it's motorway service station), and the slightly scratty industrial estate where Premier Rouge are based.
|Tikka taste test|
There was well-executed chicken tikka and seekh kebabs, which is just what you need to kick off an Indian style banquet, and some of the veggie starters were to die for - potato pakora with chana massala, a perfectly cooked paneer tikka with a deep tandoori flavour, and the gloriously sweet and spicy chilli paneer.
They kept on bringing up plate after plate, then once the starters were done, they began to bring out plate after plate of main dishes, with a robust, classic Chicken curry, a lovely Rogan Josh full of tomatoes and really tender lamb pieces, and various other dishes I've lost track of. Rice, Naan and salad were all provided of course.
The only really unpleasant thing out of around 25 different starters, curries, bhajis and sweets, was the massala fried fish, which looked lovely, but the batter suffered from a really metallic taste, a bit like those low-sodium salt substitutes.
Personally, I hate peas and so the muttar paneer weren't things we'd be choosing, but the quality was generally exceptional throughout. I've also never particularly enjoyed Asian desserts, but did eat half of my gulab jamun, as it wasn't too sweet, and that's way more than I'd usually manage.
When we could eat no more, we wondered if we'd be presented with some kind of a bill, maybe deductable from our catering order, or at least some high-pressure sales pitch to ensure that we didn't take our business elsewhere.
But there was nothing. We actually had to ask one of the guys if we could discuss the business side of things. I guess they are confident enough in the quality of their food and reasonableness of their prices that most people who try the tasting will go with them anyway.
Their food is better than most restaurants I've dined in - and I've dined in a lot of Indian restaurants. Premier Rouge's owner explained how and why - banquetting menus are chosen way in advance, so they can properly prepare and marinate and get everything right, whereas restaurants have to respond to an unpredictable range of short orders in rapid succession.
|You know it makes sense|
Free for all
Even now, a few days later, I can't get over the fact that this delicious multi-course tasting menu experience was free. Yes, we're going to book them, because they're very tasty and exceptional value to boot, but we never felt under obligation to do so.
How many other caterers are out there offering similar deals to people who say they are interested in booking catering for their wedding (or indeed any other event)? For years after we're married we can go around pretending to be newly-engaged just so we can get freebies from different caterers.
Don't take this as endorsement for blagging plate upon plate of free banquetting food, but it would be pretty easy to pull off this scam. Even if you only get away with it once, you'll save yourself the cost of a meal out. Not that I told you that. It's tempting though, isn't it?
After eating so well on Saturday I needed to be brought back down to culinary reality on Sunday, and Mr. Wetherspoon duly obliged with a truly execrable turkey dinner. A karmic warning in the light of my scamtastic thoughts, perhaps. With peas.