Going to restaurants is an important part of our lives. It’s the whole experience rather than just getting our lunch or dinner. So, we had to have a conversation about where we’d go for our first meal out after restaurants were allowed to reopen. It was a very short conversation. B2M had been our first meal out of the year. And, back in March, dinner with our nephew was the last meal out that we had before lockdown. It seemed right to come back here. There were worries, of course, as there will be in the coming weeks with other of our regular places. Will it be safe? Will it be as enjoyable in the “new normal” as the “old normal”? Well, there were no issues with social distancing, as the restaurant was very quiet. And all the staff wore masks when they were near our table. There’s a new style of menu – laminated so it can be sanitised. I think I spotted a couple of new dishes on the menu but this wasn’t a time for them. This was a time to order old favourites that we knew were going to bring back memories.
We ordered drinks and a plate of mini-pappadoms to nibble on. And, for starters, for one of us there was masala dosa, crisp with a lightly spiced potato filling and the usual sambhar and coconut chutney. For the other, the Mumbai classic street dish of bhel puri. This was fine although it could have done with more zing from the usual tamarind chutney.
We both went with our favourite lamb dishes – lamb chamku and lamb bhuna. The former with its just clinging sauce, with the earthy sweetness of beetroot. The other with its well rounded sauce, a world away from the curry house version. We also ordered a pahadi daal – similar to makhani daal but without the cream. And Donya kindly brought us some chicken lollipops to try – delicious with a crisp skin that would put Colonel Sanders to shame. As ever, carbs were excellent – pilau rice was light and fluffy, and kulcha (chilli & garlic naan) was everything you want of an Indian bread.
So, in summary, yes this was a bit weird of an experience. But everyone will get used to the changes that the “new normal” brings. And it really was good to be back in a restaurant having someone else cook dinner, bring it to the table and do the washing up. Deliveroo from a restaurant is fine as far as it goes but it’s not a restaurant.