(Nine Inch Nails) – Elachi South Woodham Ferrers
In the beginning, there was “Izzy’s” and it was good… Okay, so “Izzy’s” was actually called “Ruchita” and was South Woodham Ferrers’ first Indian Restaurant, but Izzy was such a larger than life character that if you told someone you were going to the ‘Ruchita’ they wouldn’t know what you were talking about. Izzy’s was ‘old school’ Indian, with flock wallpaper (but it was the eighties)the only Indian restaurant I’ve visited to feature ‘Brussels Sprout Bhaji” although we never risked it.
Izzy moved on in 2003 and the restaurant was refitted and rebranded “Elachi”, they updated their menu in 2015, so I figured it was worth a visit.
Elachi is situated on Queen Elizabeth II Square in South Woodham Ferrers, close to the bandstand, above what used to be the Stead & Simpson shoe shop. There’s a steep staircase, so it can’t be described as ‘disabled friendly’.
It was 7pm on a Friday evening, a week or so before Christmas, and ‘the ladies’ were dining out. So John and I, despite our excellent experience recently elsewhere, decided to give Elachi a try.
It wasn’t too busy when we arrived, a few tables occupied, but not busy. We took our seats, declined the poppadoms, ordered a couple of beers and perused their menu.
John decided to skip the starter, saving himself for a dessert, but I ordered the ‘Elachi Peri Peri Chicken’ – it was a chicken leg, with a reasonable spicy rub/marinade. Tasty but not ‘absolutely delicious‘ as the menu promised, and little evidence of the ‘special peri peri sauce‘.
For mains we both spotted ‘Rajeshwari Chicken’ described as ‘Chicken tikka cooked with fresh herbs, tomatoes in a green chutney with fresh coriander, green chillies and garlic.’ With Pilau Rice and a side dish of ‘Bindhi Bhaji’.
The Rajeshwari Chicken was a bitter disappointment, a few pieces of Chicken Tikka lurking in a depressingly turgid brown gravy. There was no evidence of fresh herbs, tomatoes, fresh coriander, green chilli or garlic. It was neither flavourful, spicy nor fresh tasting. It was impossible to work out what it was trying to be.
Normally, when dining out, the waiter calls back to check that everything was satisfactory, on this occasion this didn’t happen. Perhaps they were embarrassed by the dish (I would have been), but the restaurant was starting to fill up. Had they taken the trouble to ask, we would have voiced our displeasure.
We ate the chicken tikka pieces, rice and the bindhi, most of the ‘Rajeshwari’ sauce remained uneaten.
John ordered the ‘Ferrero Rocher’ dessert – when we finally caught the eye of a waiter. It arrived fresh from the deep freeze and rock-hard, but we’d ordered some coffees. They arrived lukewarm, and John’s was almost cold when he’d added milk.
Again we struggled to catch the eye of a waiter to request the bill, which was accompanied by a desultory offer of ‘a drink on the house’ – the restaurant was busy by now and we declined.
The total for the meal was twenty five quid a head, not a bad price, but a disappointing meal.
To be fair, it wasn’t (quite) a total disappointment; the ‘Full Monty Nan’ – which boasted ‘Cheese, Strips of chicken tikka, mushroom and coriander (Green Chilli on request)’ – was delicious, if a little on the small side.
Our overall impression was that perhaps we’d been unlucky in our choices, the place was busy so people must enjoy the food, but there are too many other dining options in South Woodham Ferrers for an Indian restaurant to serve such a disappointing meal.
We won’t bother coming back.