There is a wonderful little café-style Indian restaurant in my neighbourhood called Rose Veg. It has an extremely extensive menu that sprawls across about 20 pages of plastic-laminated booklet that covers all types of Indian and Indo-Chinese cuisine. From Northern chaats to Southern dosas and idlis, the menu at first seems overwhelming. Personally, I think it’s a great place. Because the food is cheap and the service very unpretentious; You sit at the table of your choice, you order, and you eat. As it comes. And then you pay the owner of the place (who happens to man the till) on the way out. It does take-away too. It’s “pure” veg in the sense that no animal products are used at all. Also, it’s alcohol-free, so it’s not the sort of place you go for a “beer and a curry”. Apparently it was nominated for a UK national award for the best UK vegetarian restaurant a couple of years back, therefore, it’s really popular with the local (mostly Gujurati” population, and it’s reputation causes people to travel from afar to eat there. Although they have a website, it’s marketing is mostly limited to “word of mouth” and it’s packed out most weekday evening and weekend lunchtimes. We love this place because the taste-to-value ratio is extremely good, and it’s an extremely relaxing place to have a really tasty and informal lunch at the weekend.
So, when a couple of “lads” came and sat down inside this place a few days ago and started to look the through the menu booklet we couldn’t help but be bemused by overhearing their comments about the “strange” items on the menu and the lack of “beer”. We figured that they were “newbies” who had never eaten there before and probably had expectations of it being a standard sort-of “curry house”. It was amusing hearing them “complain” about the strangeness of the menu (“what no chicken tikka masala?”) and generally just mocking the whole thing in a really quite condescending way. I wondered why they had come here in the first place? Anyway, all was revealed when they were joined by what seemed to be their “lady friends”; who must have been parking the car or something in the previous few minutes. As soon as the ladies sat down next to their “laddish” partners, the conversation took a sudden and dramatic change: the ladies were excited about being here, they had been here before and they thought the food was excellent. They were recommending all kinds of dishes from the menu and were looking forward to ordering their favourite items. They talked about how this place was really popluar with “Jains”, who observe extremely strict dietary requirements, and how tasty the chaats, South Indian and Indo-Chinese fusion dishes were.
(Taken with my cameraphone from an adjacent table.)
Needless to say, the attitude of their “lads” changed quite suddenly. Far from being mocking and disappointed with where they were eating, they were full of respect for the place. Nodding and agreeing with everything their partners were suggesting.
It’s amazing how attitudes can change and be influenced so quickly by different points of view. Especially when those points of view belong to your nearest and dearest.
Anyway, if you ever find yourself in the North-West London area looking for a place to eat a real Indian-style lunch on a budget, then you can’t go much too wrong at Rose Veg. It’s excellent.