Crawley Welcomes Zari
17th February, 2011
Reviewed by Dominique Chapman
Zari is a type of thread made of fine gold or silver wire used in traditional Indian and Pakistani garments. Samples of, 'Zari,' as unique pieces of art, decorate the walls of this lovely new addition to Crawleys restaurant scene. Proprietors Mr and Mrs Miah have invested considerable time and effort, travelling around India, bringing to Crawley, a stylish dining establishment with professionally trained chefs cooking authentic curries and accompaniments.
Zari's wide, and well lit plate glass window is unmissable! Once inside, you will appreciate why the bar and lounge areas are so generous, this restaurant is not short of space.
Pat and I settled ourselves onto two of the many bar stools. There is a small but tempting bar menu, with treats like Mini Samosas and Kebabs. So, if you feel like a quick drink and a spicy snack, there is no need to move to the main dining room. While Pat ordered himself a Vodka and tonic, I snatched the cocktail menu from the waiter. It was a difficult choice, with such lovely innovative mixtures of alcoholic and non-alcoholic liquids, but decided on a Lychee Daiquiri, complete with sugared rim. Lychees can be sweet, but I need not have been concerned, it was, delicious!
In the first dining room, bright and beautiful silk cushions snuggle around you on the banquet seating. Through to the main dining room, tables are well spaced, and you are treated to exciting views of the theatre kitchen, where the chefs will thrill you with their Roomali Roti throwing and impressive skewers of tandoori, tikka and kebabs. The third dining room is reserved for parties and leads out to the Zari Pavillion, where an Indian BBQ can be enjoyed. All we need is some Indian weather!
When we finally dragged ourselves away from the bar, our hosts, settled us into the main dining room. There is a wonderful selection of starters, that make is quite impossible to choose, so Pat and I decided that we would order all dishes to share. We kicked off with, 'Assorted Poppadums and fresh home made chutneys selection (per person) £1.95.' These were freshly cooked, with the spicy poppadums being baked and folded into pretty cones. The condiments are all made in house, with the Apple Chutney being quite lovely, as it is made from apples sourced from a local orchard.
We then moved on to the, 'Kebab Tasting Sampler - trio of king prawn, meat and chicken kebab grill £6.95.' All were attractively plated, subtly spiced and very succulent. Other interesting starters, which I will try next time, include, 'Fresh mint & coriander basted tandoori chicken morsels, apple & orange salad £5.25,' because I do like a good salad with my starters and I think this one sounds really delicious. 'Pan-griddled lamb marinated in garlic and red chilli, with Pomegranate Raita £5.50,' well, that's a good hot one for Pat, and, 'Char grilled seasonal fruit skewers flavoured with mango & rock salt £4.95,' very Mumbai!
A good Dosa is hard to come by, unless you are in South India - of course! so, when we spotted this all time favourite, we had to order, 'Vegetarian Dosa - paper thin pancake £5.95 - made with rice, urad dal, with spicy potatoes and coconut chutney and sambar - traditional South Indian lentil and vegetable curry, tempered with mustard and curry leaf.' The portion is small by some standards, but infact was quite perfect for a shared intermediate course. We cut it in half and generously drizzled with coconut chutney. The Sambar accompaniment, was spicy, but lacked one of my favourite Indian vegetables - the drum stick. If there had been only one, I would not have shared it!
After a short rest, we were served our main courses. My, 'Chicken Lababdar- chicken tikka in white gravy of pumpkin seeds, cashew nut and mixed peppers £10.95,' was amazingly delicate! It has similarities to a Murgh Makhani, with good chunks of chicken tikka, but, obviously without the red colour. It has a smooth, silky and nutty sauce - delicious. Pats main course, 'Jungle Venison Curry £13.95,' was a spicy affair and he enjoyed it very much. It is good to see local game on the menu and Mr Miah, in particular, is a great supporter of locally produced ingredients. For our sides, Pat spotted, 'Vegetable Chettinad - fresh vegetables in unique roasted spices of the famous Chettinad family and fresh coconut £7.50,' and, 'Pea & Mint Dal £3.75.' Both were very different from each other and since our meal choices were from South India, we decided on, 'Lemon and Mustard Seed Rice £3.25.' All dishes gently spiced and complimented each other very well. Mains to sample next time, include, 'Rose Petal Masala Chicken £10.95,' or, 'Alleppey Fish Curry - white boneless fresh water fish in coconut milk, fresh ginger, raw mango and curry leaf £9.95,' and, 'Tandoori Grilled Paneer Flakes - in cumin and red chillies, wok tossed green peppers £7.95.'
After making a good effort with the main courses, and feeling quite satisfied, we didn't want a dessert, but our lovely waiter - ladies, he shakes a great cocktail! - tempted us and since all desserts are made by the Zari's pastry chef, we couldn't refuse, though we vowed to just taste not eat! He brought us a, 'Selection of Freshly Made Ice Creams £4.95,' and the, 'Selection of Freshly Made Sorbets £4.95.' Todays flavours included pistachio and chocolate, and I can honestly report that they were astonishingly smooth and creamy - so the 'just tasting' when out of the window. If we hadn't eaten so much, we would have loved to try the, 'Peshwari Nan Pudding with caramelised oranges £5.25,' which sounds absolutely amazing.
After such a lovely meal, we just had to meet the chefs and thank them. We were welcomed into a spotlessly clean kitchen and entertained with a private Roomali Roti demonstration. Lucky us, lucky Crawley!
Hours: 12pm to 2.30pm, Sunday to 3pm and 5.30pm to 11pm, Friday and Saturday to 11.30pm.
Log on to www.zarirestaurant.co.uk to download current menus, book your table and view all special offers.
'...our hosts, settled us in the main dining room.'
'Vegetable Chettinad - fresh vegetables in unique roasted spices of the famous Chettinad family and fresh coconut £7.50.'
'...ladies, he shakes a great cocktail!'
'The third dining room is reserved for parties and leads out to the Zari Pavillion, where an Indian BBQ can be enjoyed. All we need is some Indian weather!'
'After such a lovely meal, we just had to meet the chefs and thank them.
We were welcomed into a spotlessly clean kitchen...'
Zari Restaurant and Bar
212-214, Ifield Drive, Ifield, Crawley, West Sussex. RH11 0DQ