On the Tuesday after the play has finished The Lace Market Theatre hold what is known as The Crit – an opportunity to discuss the merits and themes of the play that was on the week before. It is a great chance for cast and crew to get back together and it is traditional that we go out for a meal that evening to celebrate the performance.
This time there were a fair smattering of vegetarians in the group so we pre-booked the Kayal restaurant on Broad Street in central Nottingham. It is not like your average Indian restaurant. They specialise in Kerala Cuisine. Their own description sums the place up nicely.
‘Kayal, the Kerala backwater Cuisine Restaurant, offers a cuisine that is very unusual and different from the rest of the others. Cuisine at Kayal is mildly flavoured, spicy and gently cooked, offers several gastronomic opportunities for those willing to experiment with the local cuisine of Kerala. Be it seafood, rice or other meat dishes, the emphasis is on ‘Healthy Food’.
Our big group of eleven were made very welcome and ushered through to the back of the restaurant to a long table. It was all nice and atmospheric but the lighting was so low and dim that several of us had to borrow a mobile phone to shine a light on the menu to see what to order. A lot of the dishes I had never heard of and so choosing was quite an adventure.
A lot of the group went for the Masala dosa – one of the most famous of the South Indian Brahmin dishes. It is a large rolled rice and lentil pancake with a filling of seasoned potatoes, onions and peas. This came with a small selection of dips and was a starter course.
For my main course I chose the Njandu curry – a seafood based curry with crab meat and spices cooked in a coconut sauce. It tasted delicious but I was surprised to find that the crabmeat was still in the shell and very difficult to eat properly in the gloom. I didn’t want to splash curry all over me by fiddling with the bits of ‘still in shell' crab. The coconut based curry sauce was slightly spiced with paprika and cumin and I liked the lemon rice that I chose to accompany the curry.
The general mood at the table was jolly and we enjoyed some laughs mis-quoting lines from Abigail’s Party and having chat about “What’re you planning to do next?” Michelle who played Sue had already auditioned for The Accrington Pals that very night!!!
The restaurant closes at 11pm so by about 10.50pm we had all finished eating and drinking and asked for the bill. It came in a wooden little box and once we had sorted our individual monies out we were short by about £16. It turned out that the restaurant had added a service charge on (?). There was a general consensus that we weren’t paying such a large charge (that we weren't told about in advance) and ended up paying about half after a discussion with the waiter. His attitude was a bit off and he clearly wasn’t happy about our decision. I don’t go out to restaurants with big groups often but I thought it was cheeky to just slap this charge on when they were getting about £250 plus from us anyway.
Other than that incident the meal was a pleasant night out with good friends from the theatre and in general the food and service at the restuarant was very good. They also have a branch on Granby Street in Leicester.