Name: The Empress
Area: Whitechapel
Address: 141 Leman Street
London E1 8EY
Phone: 020 7265 0745

Visits to this restaurant ...

1. 25 Apr 2013|2. 30 Jan 2014|3. 24 Sep 2015|4. 24 Nov 2016|5. 25 May 2017
6. 31 May 2018|7. 28 Nov 2019|8. 30 Sep 2021

Richard & Brian each celebrate their 100th appearance with their commemorative engraved glass.

Visit Report

Visit Number: 199 (visit 4 of 8 for this restaurant)
Date of visit: 24 Nov 2016
Cost per head: £25.00 (2 beers)

Serv Amb Beer Start Nan Rice Main Veg VFM Score Comments
Overall 7.5 7.2 7.1 6.4 7.4 7.1 7.2 7.6 7.9 7.21
John 6 6 7 5 6 6 6 7 8 6.2 See John's comments
Brian 9 8 8 10 9 10 9 10 9.3 See Brian's comments
Graeme 8 6 6 7 5 9 7 7 7.1 See Graeme's comments
Mark 8 5 6 4 7 7 7 7 6.3 See Mark's comments
Richard 9 8 9 7 8 8 7 8 9 8.0 See Richard's comments
Dave 9 10 8 6 9 9 9 9 9 8.6 See Dave's comments
Robin 6 9 6 6 8 8 4 7 6 6.4 See Robin's comments
Neil 7 7 6 5 7 6 6 7 6.3 See Neil's comments
Dominic 6 8 9 8 7 6 7 7 9 7.4 See Dominic's comments
Tim 7 5 6 6 7 7 7 7 7 6.6 See Tim's comments

All Comments

John - We think this place is better than it probably is! Prawn Puree was lacking prawns but the mixed grill bhuna was fairly good. Service was slow but jovial. Still one of the better restaurants that we go to though (but the bar is quite low). I marked the ambiance down a bit as there was a blond bloke on the table next to ours who kept threatening to break into song. Think he may have been the resident drunk.

Brian - Another great performance from the Empress.  Excellent mussels starter, followed by Cumin Talapia, which was wonderful.  Rice and veg dishes were all very good.  I didn't order any bread, so hopefully my "n/a" entry there will not detract from the overall score.  Service friendly as usual, and didn't appear slow.

Graeme - Maybe this wasn't quite as special as previous visits (they were having issues with their air-conditioning / ventilation & it has a lot to live up to as our reigning No. 1) but it was a very good meal all the same. We were a bit jammed in near the door but this is quite a small place so a table for 10 is always going to be a bit of a squeeze. The owner / manager was away on holiday but his son (I think) was there to look after us. He tried very hard and was very funny at times. My starter of Nazakat chicken was tasty, although the accompanying salad was a bit limp. For main I had North Indian Garlic Chilli Chicken which was excellent. My evening got off to a bad start when I managed to knock over Neil's lager on the bar, all over my trousers and shoes. I was so annoyed with myself, it took me a while to get over it. I wasn't the only one who was accident prone though - Rats performed an impressive knee slide on the pavement on the way back to the station. He passed it off nonchalantly but he may regret it when he sees the state of his suit trousers in the morning.

Mark - After last month it was good to return to The Empress for a curry you can rely on and get good service. Shame about the seating arrangements but one day we might not be by the door (perhaps if we go in summer?) Starter of mash & lamb was a bit bland and not a lot of meat so I will not have that again. My main of Chicken Rezla was good as was the rice and I liked the small bit of veg I tried so overall a satisfactory meal but was it good enough for number 1? I'm not sure. The taster dessert and comp ports were well received and it was good to have interaction with the staff. This is somewhere I would happily take others as a more traditional curry house. Congratulations to Richard & Brian on their century of Currymarks - a couple of the lowest strike rates so far but just over 50%.

Richard - Another fine Empress meal with everything at their usual high standard. I branched out with a starter of stuffed peppers with lamb which was very good - the lamb was shredded and tender. This was followed by a butter chicken which was too buttery and bland for my taste. That is how they are supposed to be, so I can't blame the Empress, although it's not to my taste. I have been spoilt by the famous Khan's butter chicken, which is rich and smoky and more like a max-flavour smoky tikka masala, and which remains my favourite Indian dish anywhere, ever. I will give up trying to get butter chicken anywhere else!

Dave - Enjoyed my night at the Empress – very friendly welcome and good "banter" with the waiters. Went slightly off the Griff set menu with my starter of stuffed green pepper with chicken. This was the lowlight of an otherwise excellent meal.

Robin - After having had great food here previously I was rather disappointed by this meal. Again I had a king prawn puree to start (and asked for it to be made spicy) but it was pretty bland and flavourless. My main dish was supposed to be lamb tikka rogan josh, so when they brought out a "lamb rogan josh" I asked them to check if it was the tikka version and they whisked it away. One minute later they gave me what they assured me was the tikka version, but it was obviously just the same dish they'd brought out earlier. The lamb was nowhere near tender and didn't have much flavour although the sauce was quite good. Excellent keema nan and nice veg dishes partly compensated, as did the price, but the overall experience was nowhere near as good as on previous visits.

Neil - First, my  compulsory comment that the Brown Bear Pub has raised its beer prices 50% since we first went there four or five years ago. That said, nice place to meet as right next door to the curry house. At the restaurant I found the food rather average and they seem to have gone slightly downhill since last year. I wonder if it will retain its number one spot going forward. Starter (lamb pancakes) was very chewy, main course (chicken biryani) rather dry, bread (stuffed paratha) was good, however. Service gets an extra mark due to the rather chatty waiter who thought all our individual selections the work of genius! A good night out, if not brilliant food-wise, made inexpensive due to a rather snazzy looking discount card.

Dominic - A visit out east to the current number one usually means a great curry experience but something was a little off this time round. Don't get me wrong as the food was again very good but the service was unusually slow with dishes arriving late and out of order - yes, in Jon's absence, I must say that rice needs to be brought out first upon which you can then serve all the rest of the main and accompaniments. I took my own advice from last year and had the Nazakat starter which was very good and tender. I then opted for the Garlic Chilli Lamb which was also good but not quite the outstanding dish that I expected. All the rest were also good with the wine being a standout in price and quality. I still think this is an excellent eatery for food and VFM ... perhaps it was just one of those nights. Another fun evening although it has to be said that my "OB1 Kenobi Garlic Chilli" mentor has fallen from grace, asking as he did for his dish to be "toned down" ... what a BGB!!

Tim - Unfortunately, on the night we were there, their ventilation system had failed. This meant that a door at the back had to be left open, making some tables very draughty and meaning that some of us were seated rather awkwardly; some of the waiters also seemed a bit distracted, and I'm guessing it may also have made things difficult in the kitchen. It was nice to see they finally have large bottles of Kingfisher; although the menu still only shows small bottles. Thanks to Dom, I also had some Malbec, which we agreed was pleasant but a little lightweight. They still had the extra spicy onion accompaniment to the poppadoms, though not as spicy as last time. There was a bit of a wait for the starters; I had Khadom Phool, which is minced lamb in a potato ball, coated with sesame seeds and deep fried. It was quite tasty but rather dry, though fortunately there was raita left on the table. The amount of mince in it was quite small, and one of the balls had none at all, although once pointed out, a replacement one was brought out in a few minutes. The main course of methi sag gosht was of a good size with plenty of tender lamb, but unfortunately it was a little bland, with a spiciness somewhat akin to sag aloo. To finish, we were given complimentary Shemai desserts to share - these were new to me, and rather nice - soft, creamy with crunchy bits and covered with a dash of Baileys or similar; and finally a complimentary round of port. So, overall there were a few problems, but the manager did his best, the VFM was good, and I hope to return next year under better circumstances.

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