Here’s our first review from new contributor Jack [Ed: this is not the same Jack who edits the site]. He’s a Newcastle man who found himself wandering Covent Garden, looking for something Indian to eat. This review is the result!
You can find out more about Jack’s culinary adventures on Twitter at: @calamitycooking
Big parties with something to celebrate – the decor really lends itself to that party atmosphere.
Any pre-theatre diners – although be prepared to snooze your way through the second act with a belly full of fine fare.
Fans of Indian food in search of the real thing and big flavours.
In a word
A Geordie lost in London
There are many things that I get excited about on the rare chance I get to visit London – although sampling some fantastic food is definitely up there with taking a selfie outside of the Queen’s house and buying something green from Harrods.
So when me and the other half decided to treat ourselves to a couple of nights in the big city, some careful planning went in to deciding where we would eat, to make the most of what is a rare opportunity to stretch our culinary tastebuds outside of the north.
And while there were a few London eateries we definitely wanted to tick off our bucket list, our first night found us at something of a loss for somewhere for tea.
(Remember that my tea is my evening meal. My ‘dinner’ is a lunch).
But let’s not get distracted by the Geordie vernacular.
So where was I…?
Oh yes. I’m never a fan of just wandering the streets looking for somewhere to eat and I always find that such occasions are never as special as when I’ve handpicked a restaurant, giving me plenty of time to fantasise over my upcoming meal.
That said, on this particular occasion we were forced to take a gamble and try our chances at restaurant roulette. Covent Garden seemed a good place to head and after 15 minutes of wandering and assessing what was on offer, a bustling queue of excited diners lined up outside a subtly lit restaurant caught our eye.
What’s this? Must be good if there’s a queue. Let’s have a butchers at the price list – well within budget. And it’s Indian food. We love Indian food. Split second decision made. And what a good decision it turned out to be.
Authentic Indian Food
The hidden gem we had stumbled upon by accident was Masala Zone and the meal we shared there truly surpassed any expectations we had – all the more so since it wasn’t planned. And as Geordies, we’re a hard bunch to please when it comes to a curry.
After a surprisingly short wait considering the size of the queue, we were shown to a table right in the middle of the bustling restaurant. I often despair when I hear paper complaining about tables being close together – for me part of the beauty of being in a restaurant is seeing what other people are having – and although the tables are packed in, I never felt like this impacted the privacy of my meal.
In fact, it added to my experience, especially since we were placed between two Londoners who were obviously regulars and a couple visiting from Paris. The mix of accents and languages gave the place a bustling, cosmopolitan atmosphere that you just don’t get back in Geordie land.
Having spent our time queuing giving other diner’s choices a subtle eyeballing, we opted for what seemed to be the most popular item on the menu – the traditional Thali.
These serving platters come in two sizes, although our day of vigorous sightseeing and Instagramming everything in sight let us unguiltily opt for the large. In addition to classics like onion bhajis, mint yogurt and lentil dahl, you’re free to choose a curry from the regular menu, which comes with a generous portion of rice. After selecting a chicken korma and a lamb rogan josh, we crunched our way through a round of popadoms, refreshingly hot pickles and a couple of welcome Tiger beers.
Like a towering afternoon tea or a dazzling antipasto platter, it was difficult to know where to start with this enormous meal. In the end, we opted for little samples of each dish, eating at random and enjoying every mouthful. This is a truly fantastic way to enjoy Indian food and I’ll no doubt find it hard returning to a structured first course/second course the next time I dine out.
Lamb Rogan Josh and Chicken Korma
Each balanced the other out perfectly and to choose a favourite is a decision I’m not a position to make, nor do I want to.
As I’ve already touched upon, a big part of Masala Zone’s charm is it’s bustling atmosphere and unique decoration. Few diners could resist from staring up at the festoon of colourful puppets hanging from the ceiling, which the staff are delighted to explain…
I would go as far to say that this was up there with some of the best Indian meals I’ve ever sampled. It also proved to be the highlight of the trip to the capital, in terms of our dinner choices. Sorry… tea. Look at me getting all southern.
A bustling atmosphere, amazing food and fabulous service makes Masala Zone a haven for anyone who happens to be in the area and is sure to delight you with everything it has to offer. Especially if you’re a curry-loving northerner lost in the big city, looking for a piece of home...
A: 48 Floral Street, WC2E 9DA
P: 020 7379 0101