|Address||60 Mary Street, Dublin 1|
|Phone||01 872 6007|
After a brisk walk across to The Other Side, on the coldest Tuesday evening this year, we were more than ready for an Indian and a chat – to warm the self in every possible way! The décor of Madina, an Indian restaurant located right in the centre of town, is, unlike many of its competitors, refreshingly unclichéd. There is not a piece of faded red velvet in sight, although it is a bit too cafeteria-style for my liking. We were seated upstairs in what was the worst seat in the whole restaurant; it was basically in the corridor for the toilets, with a panoramic view of the dhosa- preparation kitchen, and the glasses washing area, so not the best start!
The starters, however, were a different story, and definitely the highlight of the meal. We ordered the Papri Channa Chat (€3.95) – mainly because the menu description included the word “poppets”- and Baingan Pakora (€3.95), then a plain Dhosa (€5.95) to share, as it is a house speciality. We had no idea what to expect, yet were still surprised when what looked like a bowl of crunched-up crisps arrived, accompanied by an enormous rolled up flatbread which resembled a crêpe accompanied by two dips. This was the Dhosa, the star of the meal – delicious, freshly cooked and crispy. Below the surface of the “crisps” was concealed a delicious mix of potatoes, chickpeas and assorted herbs and spices, all drenched in a yoghurty sauce. This sounds weird. It was. But it was also unexpectedly scrumptious and we ended up fighting over it. The definite dud of the meal was the Baingan Pakora, aubergine fritters which were completely devoid of taste. And if anyone loves a vegetable fritter it’s me. (No, seriously!) Madina doesn’t serve alcohol, as it is a halal restaurant. However, they do have a selection of non-alcoholic flavoured beers (my faithful companion had the strawberry one – which tasted like childhood medicine, but in a good way!) and I had a mango lassi (Both €2.95). Water arrived and was refilled automatically, in those cool swing-top glass bottles, but apart from that service was average. For mains I had Aloo Saag, a spinach and potato curry, (€7.95) and Ms.X had the Butter Chicken (€8.95). When ordering, she asked for it spicy. The waitress warned her that this meant very spicy, so she changed it to “medium”. We shared a coriander naan and a boiled rice, which were both perfectly adequate. The Butter Chicken arrived, in its medium sauce, which was so far from spicy that even I, the least spice tolerant person alive, thought it was too bland. On the first bite, we were cooing over the creamy wonderfulness, after the third bite, it was just sickeningly buttery.
We were left to our own devices and seemed to be welcome to sit there as long as we liked, which is normally a very good thing, but in fact we even had trouble attracting the waitress’s attention when we wanted a dessert.
There are only two desserts on the menu, and we thought we would be adventurous and try them both. The Kheer (rice pudding) was delicately spiced and quite acceptable, but not worth 5 euro of a student’s weekly budget. The Ras Malai is a milk dumpling in spiced milk; it resembled a mozzarella a little too much, and managed to be both tasteless and unpleasant, as only milk-based desserts can.
In all, we both agreed that Madina has a certain charm. If they fix those few niggles, this cheap, central Indian restaurant has the potential to be amazing.