If you’ve paid a fair attention to this blog, you’d be aware of my newfound affinity for Indian cuisine. I’d avoided Indian food all my life, but Shiima (through Trishna) converted me and now I’m on the lookout for top-notch Indian cuisine, in search for the perfect tandoor spiced dish. With that in mind, I came across Chai Ki while browsing through my OpenTable app for a new restaurant to visit. The menu looked promising and the pictures of the restaurant also looked really good. So I excitedly reserved a table for this past Saturday.
Just to be clear (and probably state the obvious), Chai Ki is a modern Indian restaurant. It is roughly five minutes away from Canary Wharf Station in Crossrail Place. We arrived at the restaurant and sadly, the miscommunication instantly begun. Firstly, we were behind a group of guests so hadn’t reserved but were offered a table in the restaurant (more on this to come) or at the bar. They chose the restaurant. Then it was our turn and we checked in (as we’d reserved) and were led to a high table by the bar. Needless to say, we weren’t pleased. So I spoke to the maître d again, and she attempted to explain that if you book through OpenTable you only reserve a place by the bar, but even she knew this policy made no sense so she mumbled through it. I thought it best to leave it at that, so instead asked for a regular table by the bar area. She agreed to that, once one became free. But Shiima was steaming, rightly so, while we waited, and a manager came to speak to us. Shiima explained the same thing to him, and he just reiterated the same thing the maître d did without further explanation. At this point, I was fighting back laughter, as I know Shiima can be like a dog with a bone. I pleaded with Shiima to let it go, but no, for her what’s right is right.
Anyway we were sat at the regular table and given the bar food menu, which only incensed Shiima. But then, before we said any more, I checked the menu I saw on the OpenTable app and that’s when I realised that through OpenTable you can book the “Toddy Shop Bar” or “Restaurant”. I’d calmed down enough, but not my Shiima 😂. We set about to order food, and again Shiima was rightfully annoyed by the waiter who pretty much refused to take everything we ordered as in his estimation it was too much food – the waiter just cancelled some of our orders right there in our face, but I was too amused and Shiima too bemused to argue. So, what the waiter did accept were … from the Bar Plates & Nibbles – Chicken Tikka Naan, Burnt Chilli Chicken, Koliwada Calamari, Chicken Wings, Shakarkandi Chaat; and from Kari (which I assume is Curry) – Konkan Chicken with Basmati Rice.
Now this is where I’m going to be polite and why I chose to write about Chai Ki and not let Shiima write about it instead 🙂. Our experience soured our enjoyment of the food, so I don’t think we’ll give the food a fair assessment. Yes, none of the dishes stood out, as I imagine no matter how sour you are, a great dish will snap you out of whatever malaise, as the belly is the fastest way to the heart (our brain was too far away for any food to appease I think lol). Also, and I’m not claiming to be an expert on Indian cuisine, but none of the dishes had an iota of Indian spice to it. It all tasted bland. We just ate, quick as we could, and left; but only after I went to the bathroom, past the “main restaurant” and noticed quite a few empty tables lol.
Now, to understand it from the restaurant’s side is fairly easy. You booked from OpenTable for the Toddy Bar, you get a place by the bar. But then, there are a lot of other ways they could’ve handled it. So many obvious ways I’m sure you as the reader are thinking of just from reading this. But, it’s a clear case of miscommunication. Next time we visit – which will be never, knowing Shiima the Warrior 😁 – we’ll be clear as to the booking process. I can’t in good conscience recommend Chai Ki, but I can state its clear virtues and hope that you decide to give it a try and come to your own conclusion. It’s a beautiful restaurant with a promising menu, and it’s fairly priced.
Dress Code: Smart Casual
Price: £25+ (excluding alcohol)
London E14 5AR
Reserve at OpenTable or call for the Restaurant.