Spicy, but not so hot: Radhuni Restaurant, 8A The Crescent, Monkstown, County Dublin
The dismal weather set the tone for the evening, discovered Lucinda O'Sullivan, who was unable to park at her first choice of Indian and didn't much like what she got at her second
The monsoons had hit Dublin, and for us it was the night of the 3Rs: rain, Rasa, Radhuni. I received a press release inviting me to the opening by the Lord Mayor of Dublin of the new Rasa Indian Restaurant and Cookery School in St James's Place, Inchicore. As a critic, I don't go to openings and closings, but what did interest me was that the owner, Mohammed Rashid, had the get up and go to write a book -- Chillis are Hot, Spices are Not -- so I called up and booked under my pseudonym for an unflagged visit.
A local accent answered the phone before passing me over to who sounded like 'the boss'. "Table for two, 7.30 -- lovely," he said.
We departed the borough in driving rain for the M50, complete with satnav, to approach Inchicore from the Naas Road side. It took us a good hour to get there and we descended on Inchicore in a stream of traffic, with the Luas on our tail. Following Her Satnav's Voice, we swung into St James's Place to find it a choc-a-bloc dead end, with a gated entrance to a big apartment block -- Rasa being just outside these gates. Reversing out, with difficulty, into the stream of traffic, we went up and down the street looking for parking, but in vain. Horns blew, we sweated, and eventually gave up the ghost, heading back up for the M50, from where I called the restaurant to cancel. "Oh, but you can park in the apartment block grounds, we can release the gate for you." Hopefully they won't keep the parking a secret anymore.
We went, instead, to another new Indian restaurant, Radhuni, on The Crescent in Monkstown. Located in what was formerly the Siam Thai Monkstown and then the short-lived Tom Yam, prices seemed cheap enough, but somehow cheap can sometimes end up being expensive in relation to what you get.
We were greeted by a gentleman wearing black patent-leather shoes who later, hovering around us, told us that he was, in fact, an accountant, but also had a few Indian restaurants around the country. There were two pleasant waiters with the boss, but nobody seemed to cop on that perhaps they should light the candle on our table, upturn the wine glasses on bringing the wine, refill said glasses, or indeed tell us that our Ricossa Barbera d'Asti at €24.50 was a 2009 vintage and not 2007 as on their new wine list. Starters were €4.95-€7.95, apart from three selection platters at €9.95. The usual high-street curry-house culprits were there: onion bhajis, pakoras, kebabs, samosas, and "jumbo prawn butterfly". Ordering the Radhuni seafood platter, the boss said that as they were a new restaurant it was not available yet. I switched to Radhuni tandoori platter (€9.95), the moist contents of which didn't look as if they had ever seen the fiery, searing heat of a tandoor oven. Far too big and crude for a starter selection, there was the crimson-red drumstick and thigh of a chook, a lump of spongy breast meat, a mince pattie and a kebab. Brendan ordered a brace of little meat samosas (€4.95) and we shared both.
Balti, bhuna, dopiaza, jalfrezi, korma, Madras and pasanda curries are available with chicken, lamb or beef (€12.95), with prawns (€14.95), or jumbo prawns (€22.95). As we live in Monkstown, we thought Radhuni might be handy for the casual curry, but we didn't really much like what we got. Brendan's chicken bhuna (€12.95) had more mediocre sauce than substance, while jumbo prawn green chilli masala (€22.95) had four big prawns and a gallon of liquid. Minimal rice for two (€4.90) was served on an oval plate while a dish of okra (€5.50) was fine. And the atmosphere was hushed.
With a coffee (€2.50) and optional service, our bill came to €96.20 -- which we didn't feel was value, on balancing the books. Some nights in a restaurant reviewer's life are just like that.
8A The Crescent,
Tel: (01) 284-3309
Sunday Indo Life Magazine