Grand Trunk Road South Woodford review – fine Indian in the suburbs
So recently hubby, Hannah and I found ourselves in quite the culinary predicament. We had a casual weekend with no plans and fancied a curry.
Unfortunately we waited until we were hangry (read: hungry and angry), which meant we needed to find something nearby, and quickly.
South Woodford, a suburban part of London, doesn’t boast too many Indian restaurants. Their speciality is more Turkish, and I’ve reviewed many a local Turkish restaurant (which you can read about here, and here). So our options for a curry were limited.
The first restaurant we went to didn’t even have a highchair (shock, horror). So then I suggested Grand Trunk Road, a Restaurant I’d heard about a little, walked past a lot, but never visited.
And firstly, they had a highchair, which had a box ticked. And secondly, they relaxed their rule of no small children for dinner (It was 5pm) as we’d rocked up looking hangry and bewildered.
With an intimate, dimly-lit ambience, Grand Trunk Road oozed the elegance I’d seen at Benares (you can read my review of that epic taster meal here). But as always, the proof is in the pudding. Or in our case, the starters and mains.
So here’s what we had:
Starters at Grand Trunk Road
We began with popadams, because basically it’s rude not to. Now the popadams weren’t the best I’d had (they were a bit too puffed out and oily), but the chutneys were divine.
Instead of the traditional bit of onion, mango sauce and pickle, Grand Trunk Road boasted such delights as apple and plum chutney. The flavour concoctions we’re spicy and warming, and made up for the less favoured popadams.
And there, my friends, is the difference between a fine dining Indian restaurant and regular currry house grub, it’s in the chutneys.
For starters, we ordered crab tikka and Chanda chaat. While the tikka was a pleasant mouthful, it was the chaat that really got my interest. Tangy, sour and balanced with yoghurt, the slightly posh chaat is definitely something I’d order again.
Mains at Grand Trunk Road
For the mains we ordered chicken curry, lamb curry and daal. The lamb was my standout favourite. Possibly the tenderest lamb I’ve had, with a rich sauce to boot. It surpassed my expectations and trumped my usual favourite of chicken curry. I was less enthused about the daal, but hubby loved it and mopped it up.
In terms of service, the head waiter was incredible attentive, and also accommodating of my mini me. While they didn’t have kids cups or cutlery, they offered Hannah a small glass of water with a straw, and the waiters would talk to Hannah and indulge her in her favourite game of peel-a-boo.
Also, as we told them we couldn’t sit for long do bring the food as it is, they were super quick and brought out starters and mains in quick succession. This allowed us to do our usual eat and run before Hannah gets restless.
There were a couple of downsides on the service. Firstly, there menu didn’t accurately display allergy information. Some dishes were dairy free, but it didn’t say so, while on other dishes it was clearly labelled.
Clearly it was a printing oversight but one a restaurant of their standard should rectify. I’ve ranted about this previously here, but Indian restaurants have a way to go with their allergy advice (or lack thereof).
Secondly, they mistakenly gave us naan instead of rice. However, they quickly corrected this by bringing our rice and leaving us with the naan free of charge. The faux pas worked in our favour as it turned out that the naan worked best with the dishes anyway.
So overall, the Grand Trunk Road was a great dining experience. The food was delicious, and it really was nice to find a fine dining Indian restaurant without going into central London. In fact, they have a lunchtime special on the weekend which we’ll likely try next.
Grand Trunk Road in a nutshell
Prices: Starters are under £10. Mains are around £15.
Halal: everything is halal except the rabbit.
Great if: you want a laid-back suburban Indian fine dining experience.
Not so great if: you want to eat in the evening and you have a toddler/small child in tow. You best head to Nando’s or a less formal curry house.
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I’m not a makeup artist, chef, lifestyle guru or stylist. I’m just me. And like you, I’m trying to make the best of most things, only I’m sharing my warts-and-all thoughts along the way.