Here comes yet another restaurant that claims to highlight the grill / tandoor concept yet falls into the category of your regular Indian diner. A regular fine-dine with large tables, it could be perfect for celebrating birthdays and office get-togethers over Tandoori Chicken and Dal Makhani. Do we really need any more of such eateries, we wonder? Each time another one mushrooms it seems to do well for a couple of years before re-branding or disappearing into oblivion.
We shall do the Charcoal Grill viability analysis at a later date. For now, let’s take a look at the food. Their menu does have a rather long list of grilled options in chicken, mutton, seafood and vegetarian preparations. It’s mostly cooked the regular Punjabi way while some are prepared the Kerala / Chettinad way and there are Butter-Pepper-Garlic and Goan Curry preparations as well.
We were quite done with the regular Shammi and Seekh Kebabs, so we went for a plebian Chicken Pakora (Rs 260). The boiled and salt-pepper seasoned chicken chunks were coated in a green chilli-coriander besan batter and deep fried. It was the coarsely ground black pepper that lent the good-enough-for-three portion some punch.
Vegetarians generally complain that they get short-changed at Kebab places, so we tried a veggie option here. Leaving the Grilled Mushroom and Potato / Paneer Tikkas aside, we opted for a Tawa Khumb (Rs 225). Our executive explained it to be a “mashed mushroom and potato tikki” and that’s what it was. But with a twist; the cutlets were tossed into what strongly tasted of an Indianised, onion-tomato- based Sichuan sauce with thick-cut mushrooms.
We tried to taste the road less eaten with our mains. So, it was an Oyster Konkani Masala (Rs 450) and an unusual sounding Mutton Masala (Rs 330) that promised to be topped with an egg. To eat along, we tried the Mutte Appam (Rs 95). The appam arrived first, topped with an unsettled poached egg, like an English egg muffin. Sprinkled with cubed onions and tomatoes and lightly broken onto the fragile appam, it was a meal unto itself for those who enjoy the taste of egg.
Fortunately, we had ordered a Garlic Naan (Rs 90) to dab up the gravies. The oysters, as we were warned, were canned. Unfortunately, they were de-shelled and sitting not in the dry, spiced Konkani masala that we had expected. Instead, it looked creamish-yellow and it tasted close to a Punjabi CashewCurry that doesn’t compliment the muskiness of the oysters at all.
The Mutton Masala was another letdown. We expected a fried egg but it came with a boiled one instead. Forming a pool of red oil around it as it settled on our white plate, the thick gravy was a bit too heavy on tomato puree. Irritatingly, every alternate bite annoyed with a tiny bit of bone. The saving grace was the meat which was succulent.
The portions were more than generous. But the manager would do better not to chew gum / tobacco while on duty. The kitchen should learn different culinary techniques and move away from their Punjabi hangover. A meal at Charcoal Grill doesn’t have the healthy leanness of the grill nor the smoky, strong flavours of the tandoor. It’s your regular Indian (read restaurant Punjabi) meal.