Sophie Wyburd explores a vegetarian hotspot in Fallowfield
From its appearance, Jaipur Palace is not the sort of place that you’d think one would find a good meal. Opposite the Shell garage on the Wilmslow Road, the tacky bright lights of this vegetarian curry house are attached to a small hotel reminiscent of the Bates Motel made famous in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Hesitantly, we stepped through the door and were pleasantly surprised to find a smart and clean looking restaurant, albeit rather empty, with mauve walls and intimate booths.
Oddly there was no drinks menus on the table. The waiter asked if we would perhaps like a Cobra or a Kingfisher, but only after we had asked if they had any beers. I was hugely excited to see batata pav on the food menu—fried spicy balls of mashed potato which were favourites of mine on train platforms in India many moons ago.
They were smooth with potato, chunky with peas and given a good whack of spice that kicked off the meal to a good start. The cubes of tikka paneer were exactly as they should be, ruby red with edges blackened in the tandoor and filled with squeaky white cheesy goodness.
We ordered the daal makhani as the menu claimed it was one of their specials; it was almost gravy-like in taste, dark and rich and creamy but not at all similar to the kind of mild, garlicky tarka daal that I usually so love. Malai koftes in a creamy cashew sauce and the aloo palak (potatoes and spinach in a vegetable gravy) were also tasty, but sadly the taste of all three dishes were indistinguishable from one another. This was possibly down to our menu choices, so I will not hold it against the establishment; but the daal, the koftes, and the potato dish all had the same oily, gravy-like taste to them, meaning that we did not have the variety of spice combinations and heats on the table that make eating at Indian restaurants so fun and special. Having said this, everything tasted really good when mopped up with a good hunk of buttery naan.
The service was good apart from one detail which really niggled. The waiter continually only addressed my male companion—“How is the food, sir?”, “Would you like another drink, sir?”, “Shall I clear the table, sir?” I barked replies to these questions despite them clearly not being aimed at me. He was a very attentive and a 10/10 waiter for my boyfriend, but in 2016 this refusal to acknowledge the woman at the table seemed deeply sexist and offensive. As I was the one who ordered the food and paid, it was a very odd decision on the part of the waiter, and sadly left a sour taste in my mouth after quite a pleasant meal.
I don’t want to scare people away from this restaurant. Poor ordering and Victorian waiters aside, the food was quite flavoursome. It definitely wasn’t outstanding, but it was decent food at decent prices and in a location so convenient that it adds to its appeal. I would say it’s a good spot for a larger group of friends to come for a meal where they can opt for a wider selection of the menu to make sure that they get the maximum flavour combinations, and for ladies to make a stand against everyday sexism!