You don’t see many Indians in Paris. Which makes me wonder why, when I live in London a city with a vibrant Indian community and great Indian food, I decided to eat at an Indian restaurant in Paris. I think I reached some sort of French bistro fatigue and I was craving a cheap and quick hit of Indian and a cold beer. That’s my excuse anyway.
The camp interior of La Reine du Kashmir
I headed to Passage Brady in the 10eme which is Paris’ version of Brick Lane in London. The covered arcade is lined with Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi restaurants along with a surely disproportionate number of hairdressers. If you want a curry or a hair weave in Paris, Passage Brady is the place to come. Right in the middle of the Passage Brady, La Reine du Kashmir looked like a good choice with a relatively simple and well priced (read cheap) menu and quite a few punters eating there already.
Inside La Reine du Kashmir is like some sort of opium den with velvet curtains, gold statuettes and intricate carvings. I opted for a table “outside” on the pavement of the covered Passage Brady for maximum people watching opportunity. It was quite entertaining watching people wander down the alley as the various touts tried to entice them into their restaurant/hairdresser. Although in that time I did come to the slow realisation that a covered passage is really just an excuse for the French to smoke while eating their dinner in an indoor environment.
As I sucked in the fumes from my neighbouring diners cigarettes I ordered the banquet which looked like excellent value since it included naan, samosa, lamb curry, chicken tandoori and a keema curry. A complimentary glass of slightly warm Rosé arrived at my table which was a nice gesture but worried me slightly given that my meal was only supposed to be costing €15 and I did not want the margins that should be spent on the food being spent on the bad wine.
The banquet arrived suspiciously quickly and it was not really a banquet at all, rather one large metal plate with small samples of the different dishes. Perhaps I was expecting to much out of my €15 deal but you never know I could have stumbled on the Indian version of Tayyabs. Sadly, this was no Tayyabs as things went steadily downhill from here. The naan was slick with oil rather than light and fluffy and served with cheese which just added to the grease factor. The singular samosa was decent enough however the flaky triangle of pastry was stuffed with exactly the same filling as the keema curry it was sitting next to (minced lamb with a hint of spice and an occasional pea).
The banquet plate with lamb curry in the foreground and the tandoori behind
One bite of the tandoori chicken filled me with horror as the tandoori paste was entirely lacking in punch and the chicken was a grey dishwater colour with corresponding taste and flavour. The only part of the banquet that was in any way decent was the lamb curry. At least here the tasteless meat was disguised by the rich, buttery sauce.
I finished what I could of the miserly banquet and to try and rid myself of the taste of the chicken tandoori I ordered the “carrot cake”, which was actually carrot halvah made from grated carrot and served in a small glass pot covered in a sticky sauce of milk and sugar. However, there really wasn’t enough sauce to add the requisite sweetness to the carrots and so I was left feeling like I was eating a salad with a sugary dressing.
After dessert I was brought a complimentary shot of what I think was vodka. I took one sip and it burned my throat so I abandoned it. If you choose restaurants by the number of complimentary drinks served, La Reine du Kashmir may be a good choice but on any other criteria it fares dismally. Maybe there are some good Indian places in Paris but I didn’t find one at Passage Brady. In a city like Paris with such a dominant French food culture I think the better bet is to eat at a bistro or at a restaurant serving food from Vietnam, Morocco or one of France’s other former colonies. At least then there is a chance there will be quite a few decent Vietnamese or Moroccan chefs in Paris.
Details: 82 Passage Brady, 10eme, 75010 Paris (Ph +33 01 45 233935) Metro – Strasbourg St Denis
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve.
Gourmet Traveller Tips
I stayed at hip hotel Mama Shelter, a Phillipe Starck designed wonder out in the 20th. Housed in a converted garage each room has a slick imac which you can watch DVDs on, TV or use the internet, there are Kiehls toiletries in the bathroom and basically it is designer heaven. Rooms from €89.