This post isn’t really a restaurant review, more an anecdote about eating with my parents - an interesting experience on every occasion. Follow this link for the proper review of Memsaab, unadulterated by descriptions of my family’s quirks. That review largely excludes my Dad’s opinions of the food, whereas I’ll cover them here. If you’re wondering why I’d choose to ignore my Dad’s opinions when writing a restaurant review, click here and here and you will understand.
This trip to Memsaab was a birthday present from Dad. I think he had a secret wish to go there anyway, since he often moans that he rarely gets to eat out. Despite the booking being for 9:30, I turned up at 9pm, since my mother, who is teetotal, dissaproves of me drinking and I wanted to sample one of the tasty cocktails before they turned up.
Typically though, my parents were already there. Dad has a chronic fear of being late for anything and the result is he’s always at least 15 minutes early. Although this doesn’t bother me normally it did when I was a small child, when I’d be deposited at friends’ parties unfashionably early.
At the beginning of the evening we were served by a waiter who was new and a seemed a little uncertain of what he was doing. Poor guy. I think my family is the one you’d be most worried about encountering on your first day. My dad has the habit of proclaiming very loudly, “I’M VEGETARIAN” after every sentence he says to the serving staff.
WAITER: Would you like a drink, sir?
DAD: Yes. Do you have lassi? I’M VEGETARIAN.
No wonder he looked scared
Dad encouraged me to go for Memsaab’s version of a Singapore Sling. Mum looked at us both disapprovingly before ordering an orange juice. I get the feeling that the waiter had been scared off because he didn’t return to the table much after that. Instead, our food orders were taken by the gentleman in charge that evening.
DAD:These samosas are vegetarian?
MAITRE D': Yes, sir, the vegetable samosas are vegetarian.
DAD: Good. I'M VEGETARIAN.
This guy was good. He only looked confused for a split second.
MAITRE D': And for your main course, sir?
DAD: Paneer Masala. Will it go with a paratha?
MAITRE D’: Yes, sir, of course.
DAD:I will have that with paratha then. I'M VEGETARIAN.
My parents then spent five minutes arguing, in a mixture of English and Sinhalese, over which vegetable side dishes to have. The discussion was so long and confusing that, by the end, the now worried Maitre D’. looked at me for confirmaton of the order. I couldn’t do anything but shrug and say,”I have no idea what went on then. But we’ll have turka dahl and the aubergine.”.
The amuse bouche, a potato pakora with yoghurt and chutney, arrived soon after and both parents were very confused by this. I convinced Dad that it was ok and they hadn’t misheard our starter order and assured him that it was meat-free. He then ate it, after reminding the serving staff yet again that he was, in fact, a vegetarian. I finished my cocktail and ordered a glass of rosÃ©. Mum huffed.
The starters came and were eaten without much trouble apart from Dad moaning that his samosa’s “weren’t Indian.” Apparently they were made for the English palate. I did remind him that we were in CHELSEA not Bombay but apparently, “people from Tooting wouldn’t like them.” More fool them.
The exciting point of the evening was the arrival of my main course. After approval from my father, I ordered the lobster. Unfortunately for him, there had been no description on the menu of how it would be presented.
Dad made a noise that went something like “WUUUURGH!” and then “OH NO! THE POOR THING!!! IT’S CRUEL!!!!!”
A few puzzled looks came from the other diners. I told Dad to stop being silly but he obviously found the presentation quite distressing. It’s funny. He had no problem with me eating battery chicken when I was younger, but eating a lobster is cruel. Obviously. That makes sense .
I tucked into my new crustacean friend with gusto. It was really delicious.
It turns out that my parents are incredibly small eaters. Mum managed half her spinach kofta curry and Dad was the same with his paneer curry. I ended up eating everything, including their leftovers and enjoying it, but my favourite was the lobster. There were a couple of moans about the food being too oily, even though it wasn’t very oily at all. Well, I suppose if you use a low-calorie spray every time you cook, anything will seem oily in comparison.
Of course, my parents don’t do dessert so, after some more confusion instigated by Dad, we managed to get our hands on the bill. I’d say it was pretty reasonable at £115 including service. For some reason, Mum thought it was a good idea to hide the mint chocolates that came with the bill in her handbag. I still haven’t figured out why. Apparently it’s so she could “give them to the little kid who just moved in across the road” I’m still confused by this.
So, possibly to the relief of the staff, we left, with Dad and I having a heated argument about maths. Dad is the only person in the world daft enough to argue with a PhD mathematician about their subject area and I’m the only person daft enough to not ignore him.
I love this restaurant - it’s a real shame that it’s out of the way so not meny people go there. I’m almost worried it won’t survive because of this. I’ll certainly be returning here next month, most probably with Dale (warning:don’t click on the link if you’re offended by strong language), so the whole experience should be a bit more sane!