A group of nine of us got together for a couple of beers in the City and Shoreditch areas of London, followed by an early evening curry down one of Brick Lane's many eateries one Saturday in December 2013. A member of our group had "done a deal" with one of the touts outside "Chillies" and, before I knew it, we were all inside being seated in what was only a third-full restaurant, in spite of Brick Lane being pretty-much packed with visitors.
Poppadums were ordered, as were various drinks - coke, lager, tea, coffee etc. The 'popps' were OK and the accompanying mint sauce, onion salad, mango chutney and lime pickle were just about "par for the course". As a group we don't normally bother ordering starters, preferring instead to add some side dishes to our mains which included chicken vindaloo, chicken bhuna, chicken rogan josh and chicken korai. For sides we added some rice dishes, mushroom bhaji, bombay potato, various naan breads and some portions of onion bhajis - which were served as fritters rather than the normal spherical shape. For my main I went for a vegetable biryani.
Refills of drinks (especially the hot ones) took an age to arrive after ordering and it wasn't as if the restaurant was that busy - it was still less than half full by the time our mains and the side dishes arrived which, again, we had to wait a fair while for.
My vegetable biryani looked quite ordinary to be honest - some biryanies can almost be "works of art" in their appearance, after all, it is meant to be quite a "regal" dish. Mine was basically rice and vegetables lumped onto a dish which was accompanied by a fairly watered-down and weak vegetable curry in a bowl - not much in the way of imagination I'm afraid. I had asked for the curry element of the dish to be spiced-up considerably in terms of heat but even with tastes being subjective I would put the heat-level at no more than a madras at the very best. Taste-wise, the whole concoction was just about passable - however, I can't complain about the portion size, which was quite impressive. If only it had more flavour....
It wasn't all bad news with the mains, however, as both the korai and the rogan josh diners thoroughly enjoyed their meals and, as with my biryani, the portions seemed generous enough.
Moving on to the side dishes, the mushroom bhaji was good, as were the bombay potatoes and the naan bread. The biggest disappointment though was the onion bhaji. I make these at home - also in the style of a fritter - but I found the ones dished-up by "Chillies" quite bland and tasteless. Furthermore, my request of a small bowl of mint sauce to accompany the onion bhajis was either ignored or forgotten about - suffice to say that the sauce never materialised.
Eventually, we were ready to leave and we asked for the bill which came with the obligatory chocolates. We noticed that we had been charged for items which we either hadn't ordered or received (total number of drinks for example) and to top it all it was alleged that, as they counted out the money, we were about to give them £5 too little. Not to worry though, as we simply reduced the tip that we had lined-up by the same amount. Any thoughts of me giving "Chillies" a generous three stars for overall performance had all but evaporated....
I don't like slating restaurants - far from it - but it's plain to see that some improvements need to be made in both food quality and overall service at "Chillies" - especially at somewhere like Brick Lane where there is a plethora of similar eateries to choose from in this locality.
It really was a shame and, as we left, the restaurant was still less than half-full. If you do decide to visit this place at any time then I strongly recommend that, when you've finished your meal, you check your bill very carefully for any discrepancies.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.