A 168 Monton Road, Monton, Eccles, M30 9GA
The CurryCouncil visited the Passage To India in Monton for the June (2011) monthly curry. Nominations for the English Curry Awards were drawing to a close and this visit provided us with a good opportunity to chat about our CURRY LOVER campaign and indulge in yet another curry for our review.
The CurryCouncil's View
It was not too busy but this is often the case when visiting mid-week unless there is a deal on. The restaurant was clearly proud of some prestigious awards (including restaurant of the year 2007) which were on display. However, there was a noticeable lack of ambience which was probably down to the lack of barely audible background music/customers.
We spent a considerable time perusing the extensive menu over some cold Cobras. If anything, there was possibly too much on offer, from your standard curries to the usual Chef’s specialities along with a large range of English dishes too.
Pops and 3 dips were delivered which were fine although the regular 4th dip (red chilli) was sadly missed.
|Just 3 dips in but presented in a super dip tray|
For mains, I went for tried and tested with a Lamb Balti (£9.95) which I shared for some of Dave’s Chicken Balti and which was devoured along with the usual Pilau Rice (£2.50) and Peshwari Nan (£2.95). It was really good. The lamb was tender and there was a good amount of it as well and I half felt aggrieved at trading some of it for the Chicken, even though that was delicious too. Both dishes are highly recommended and even the presentation (both Balti’s came out in CONE-shaped pots – which the absent Bean would no doubt have approved of) was a nice change. The rice and Naan was equally good.
|Balti presented in metallic pots|
Externally the restaurant was attractive and had a nice traditional feel inside. The tables were spaced at just the right amount and the menu was HUGE, the pops were served promptly and devoured in seconds, they were fresh and crisp.
I ordered the Murgh Chandi Tikka for my starter (£4.50). This is chicken pieces marinated with cream, cheese and cumin and roasted in the tandoor oven. This sounded amazing but I was left slightly under whelmed with the portion size and the dish.
For main I ordered Murgi Tikka (£8.95) this was very tasty but though plentiful the chicken pieces were a bit small for my liking, the rice portion were quite small and the naan bread was excellent.
All in all this is a good quality Indian and is worth a visit.
I had the Chilli Chicken Haryali to start. It had nice and tender pieces of chicken marinated in mint and green chilli. Although I expected the chicken to be slightly spicier, it came presented with a small side salad and an extremely spicy red chilli sauce. All in all it was a nice dish and also reasonably priced.
|Chilli Chicken Haryali|
Fenugreek is actually a herb that helps improve male libido (read more here). I thought back to the wise words of Michael Jackson (from his 1982 track The Girl is Mine) and remembered that “I’m a lover not a fighter” and tucked into this potent lamb based dish.
The Methiwala was pretty nice, the curry contained a good amount of peppers and onions and would be recommended. I quickly fell asleep when I got home, as usual, and sadly could not verify if the spice fenugreek actually has any 'kick'.
The rice portions were slightly small but we ordered another portion whilst eating our main courses to make up for it. The naan’s were well sized and tasted delicious.
It was a refreshing change to see some of the food presented in traditional looking metallic dishes and 'hot' plate warmers which now can sometimes be sadly missing in some of your more modern restaurants.
The Passage to India is a nice looking and traditional themed restaurant. It has a look and feel which reminds me of how old style curry houses used to look before the modern and contemporary looking Indian restaurant became the trend.
We were escorted to our table for 6, although sadly there were only 4 present for this particular visit. I asked the waiter whether or not it would be possible to dine in the spacious air-conditioned conservatory to enjoy a rare light June evening. Regrettably the request was turned down due to staff numbers. He informed me that the conservatory is only used for large functions and during busy (weekend) periods.
Although reasonably busy for a Wednesday night the atmosphere was slightly odd. The music, when turned on was very hushed and conservation in the restaurant was extremely quiet. At times you could literally have heard a pin-drop. Luckily for us Andy Hague wasn’t in attendance which helped maintain the decibel levels.
The restaurant itself proudly displayed a number of awards. Things were looking up.
Local resident Woodman had arranged the meal and came armed with a series of money off vouchers, these were presented as we ordered our food from an incredible vast menu (seven pages long!) including lots of speciality dishes. The popodums and (3) dips were satisfactory and promptly eaten whilst quickly realising that we would be missing the latest instalment of the The Apprentice. It was decided that future curries would be held on Thursdays to avoid the majority of European football fixtures and of course Lord Sugar himself.
I opted for the Chicken Chaat with Puri priced at £5.50 and the Balti Chicken as my main course at an agreeable £8.95. The starter was tasty and very fresh although I felt the puri was slightly dry. However the balti was excellent, it arrived in a bucket style pot. The bucket had a handle which was ideal for handing round to allow the members of the council to sample it. The balti was seasoned in special herbs and spices, ginger, garlic and methi. The plain naan was top notch, really fresh and crisp and complimented the curry perfectly.
During the meal we asked to order an additional rice as the portions (2 rice, two naans) didn’t quite satisfy our appetite. Every last drop of curry and grain of rice was consumed, which is a positive sign. On the whole the portions I felt were slightly small. But on the positive side there was no requirement to open our “sides girths” at any point.
With the money off vouchers the bill came to a grand total of £23 per head including a couple for drinks and tip, which I believe is good value.
Please be aware that there is also a three course luncheon menu for just £8.95 available from Monday to Friday 12 - 2.30pm which represents excellent value for money.
Their main courses are served in authentic looking metal pots which add nicely to the traditional 'look and feel' of this well established restaurant.
If you are a local and going to pay a visit it may be worth keeping your eye open for the money off vouchers mentioned above.