Name: Mantra
Area: Aldgate
Address: 37 Crutched Friars
London EC3N 2AE
Phone: 020 7702 9739

Visits to this restaurant ...

1. 30 Oct 2008

Lucky we booked!

Visit Report

Visit Number: 103 (visit 1 of 1 for this restaurant)
Date of visit: 30 Oct 2008
Cost per head: £27.00 (1.5 beers)

Serv Amb Beer Start Nan Rice Main Veg VFM Score Comments
Overall 3.1 2.6 5.6 6.6 6.7 5.6 6.5 6.4 4.0 5.40
Dominic 5 7 6 7 8 7 8 7 7 6.9 See Dominic's comments
Dave 0 0 7 9 8 7 8 7 4 6.0 See Dave's comments
Graeme 2 2 6 7 5 6 6 7 2 5.0 See Graeme's comments
Mark 3 2 5 6 8 7 7 4 5.5 See Mark's comments
Brian 0 0 4 4 5 4 4 5 1 3.1 See Brian's comments
Alex 5 1 7 8 8 4 6 6 4 5.6 See Alex's comments
Robin 5 4 5 7 5 3 7 7 5 5.6 See Robin's comments
Tim 5 5 5 5 7 6 6 5 5.5 See Tim's comments

All Comments

Dominic - I thought it was about time that I did a bit of research and suggested a venue or two for one of our "new venue" nights. So after reading a favourable write up suggested the Mantra. It was certainly an experience! A large and almost regal room was absolutely spoilt by our table being the only punters for most of the evening. And the "Great Griff Rice" debate certainly didn't help service marks ... nor the fact that they didn't have my preferred starter (Fish Tikka) or wine! But from a food point of view I thought it quite good. The Butterfly Prawn was fine but the Nan and Rogan Josh were first rate. Even my egg rice was more reminiscent of a good special rice. The wine (from a very short wine list) wasn't too bad. All in all an experience but definitely the staff could have done better.

Dave - If you like eating good curry in an empty restaurant, with toilets that stink served by waiters with an attitude, trying to rip you off by charging for two rice dishes - then this is the place for you. Personally I will never visit this restaurant again and, judging by the fact that only 2 other customers turned up during our entire time there, I am not the only person to reach this conclusion. Shame because the food was actually good.

Graeme - If you were the manager of a restaurant, the place was totally empty and then 8 customers arrived, would you (a) welcome them, have a bit of a joke, maybe cut them a bit of slack with the menu options OR (b) be surly, rude and inflexible? The manager of Mantra chose option b. His attitude was almost laughable, except it wasn't funny. The restaurant reminded me of a by-gone era, a bit like an old banking dining room with plenty of Regency-style upholstery. It was huge too. Unfortunately, it was well past its best - it felt a bit grubby and smelled musty - and the urinals were the dirtiest (or, at least, the most stained) I have ever seen. To sum up: the food was adequate, the rest of the experience was poor and the price was quite high. Will we be going back? Not likely!

Mark - The stench of the toilets as we entered was not a good sign but upstairs looked good until you realised that it was paint & not wood panelling and every thing was a bit worn. Including rice with your meal seems a bit daft but tactful negotiation allowed us to at least trade up to pilau. Fish was off the menu to Brian's disappointment but he was not too worried as still on a high after the previous nights footie. Lamb thing to start had a bit of spice and my Chicken & Spinach - not Sag? - was fairly good. Beer was served in a very funny manner which added to the fun watching Griff steam under the collar. I doubt we will return.

Brian - This place was empty, which turned out to be a fair reflection of its appeal. Ridiculous menu (steamed rice with everything), rude staff, the worst smelling toilet ever (the waiter tried spraying air freshener - no mate, it needs a bit of cleaning!!). Anything on the menu that looked a bit interesting was off. Rubbish, I'll never go back.

Alex - Curious place – anyone else reminded of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’? Service was slow for an empty place. Starter was tasty but main was more average and relatively **cold**. Garlic nan was nice.

Robin - Vast place devoid of customers when we entered (ambiance!) but a couple of other groups wandered in during our meal. I would have expected faster service under those circumstances - we did have to wait a bit for a few items. Their marketing skills aren't all that great either; as far as I could work out every single main course came with steamed rice included, and we were told that ordering a mushroom rice or egg fried rice was simply an extra item at extra cost, i.e. that you couldn't 'upgrade' to a different rice dish or indeed even share a steamed rice since everybody got one. One or two of us argued with the waiter at some length and eventually he agreed that we could upgrade a rice dish and be charged the difference between that and a steamed rice, and finally when the bill was presented we were told that they had decided to waive these upgrade charges entirely! Despite the farcical rice arrangements the food was pretty good. I had a nice prawn puri to start (called something else, but I don't remember what) followed by a tasty chicken madras, and the veg dishes were also good. My chapatti was a bit stodgy, but overall I would rate the food as somewhat above average, although in my view the prices were rather higher than was justified by the overall dining experience.

Tim - The restaurant is approached by a wide staircase, the carpet of which has seen better days. The room itself is expansive; the tables are well spread out and the chairs spacious, although the overall look is a bit dated, and reminds me more of a hotel function room than a restaurant. When it came to ordering there seemed to be some confusion. The announcement that the main courses all came with boiled rice also caused consternation, and there was a misunderstanding where some people who wanted different rice thought they would have to pay full price for an extra portion. Personally I can't see the point of including rice, as it makes the dishes look expensive, and makes it hard to choose a nan instead of rice, or share one portion of rice between two etc. In the end, nobody paid extra for different rice, but the way it was handled could have been better. The poppadum accompaniments included an unusual red one - finely shredded onion, grated carrot, and celeriac? peppers? For starter I had Heena - e - Seekh, apparently a Lucknow speciality. It was OK, but nothing special, and it was accompanied by the standard Indian restaurant salad portion, except with a piece of carrot subsituting the usual tomato. I can't remember the main course - it was something unusual, with chicken. It was pleasant enough. Veg were OK. On the menu they were priced at £5.50, but this may have been the price for them as a main course; I didn't see the final bill to check. There was a free round of port to finish off the meal. Overall the place was a bit of a disappointment (and get someone to clean the limescale off the urinals!). Apparently they do a lunch-time buffet - this could be worth a visit, as the size and layout of the venue is ideally suited to this.

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