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“Hopefully it will get better”
Review of Indian Essence

Indian Essence
Ranked #3 of 166 Restaurants in Orpington
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $26 - $62
Cuisines: Indian
Dining options: Late Night, Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Reservations
Reviewed June 28, 2013 via mobile

We visited with high expectations. However the evening didn't start we'll as we were seated at a table next to the ladies toilet and the kitchen. The constant to-and-thro of staff didn't make it a relaxing place to sit but that wasnt the biggest problem. It was being bumped by the waiting staff as they squeezed past me - it was very annoying. I did mention it when I was asked for feedback at the end of the meal. If I revisit this restaurant and I'm given this table I will ask to be moved or I'll leave. It was one of those situations that annoys you over the course of an evening - not enough to complain initially but becomes steadily more irritating. And it's not what you'd expect when you're paying £135 for a meal for two (with a bottle of wine).

So the seating arrangements influenced the overall experience but the food was pretty good. We chose the tasting menu and some of the dishes were delicious - the salmon kebab was cooked perfectly. There was plenty of it too. However it all lacked a bit of a wow. The spices were too often polite - I don't mean heat but the interesting combinations of flavours I'd expect from this chef. I've found the food at The Ambrette to be more interesting albeit with a more limited menu.

The service was attentive but this was clearly not a well oiled machine. On other tables I saw the wrong dishes come out or arrive at the wrong time. The management were trying very hard so I'm sure it's only a matter of time before everything works well. We were offered a complimentary drink because of our poor table, which shows they care although I'd prefer it if they removed the table and asked the waiting staff to be more careful. 3 stars this time as the food was decent but I'm hoping for something better next time...

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Thank JDCLondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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424 - 428 of 490 reviews

Reviewed June 24, 2013

Cannot see what all the fanfare is about, very nice people running it, but found the cuisine to be neither Michelin nor Indian.
The rabbit was overcooked, with overwhelming flavours, quite unpleasant, the vegetables were overcooked, so I could not tell a turnip from a carrot, and not a Madras in sight. Chicken & prawn dishes were uninspired, so all in all not the spectacular experience anticipated.
Pleasant atmosphere but a bit ‘Petts Wood’.

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2  Thank RA_L0nd0n
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 19, 2013 via mobile

We visited Essence on Sunday for a Father's Day treat. I was really looking forward to eating there! What a shock the food is extremely average and every dish that we had ordered was cold. I wish we had not paid the service charge to demonstrate our disgust with the quality of the food. I normally don't go to the trouble of leaving reviews on websites, but felt compelled on this occasion to let other diners know. I strongly advise that you avoid this restaurant at all costs! Cost being the operative word because for what they charge, it's daylight robbery. I can see how others feel they have been mugged at this restaurant. It really is awful.

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2  Thank darylpopeye
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
IndianEssence, Manager at Indian Essence, responded to this reviewResponded July 1, 2013

Dear darylpopeye,

Thank you for your feedback and we apologize that you did not have a great experience at Indian Essence. We take all feedback serious and share it internally with our staff. We hope to welcome you back to the restaurant in the future so that we can provide a better experience.

Kind regards,
The Indian Essence Team

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 5, 2013

SUMMARY
Fabulously varied and original menu, very tasty in parts but ultimately let down by a messy delivery and one or two missing or wrong details.
DETAIL
In my mind an average high street Indian meal for two will set you back around £60. On this Tuesday night me and my mum spent roughly double. So was it worth it?
In my opinion it is. In my opinion if you live close you would be mad to a least give Indian Essence a go. It is admirably managed by Mr Atul Kochhar's brother-in-law, and an enthusiastic, if at times under-informed, support team.
For three pounds the mini-poppadums and home-made chutneys are good value. the chutneys themselves need to fight back a little more (less pureed) - but mustard seeds and other additions give them good flavours (tomato, mango and apple I think).
Once I had read the menu - and was genuinely unable to narrow my choices down much past all of it - I was rather excited. With salmon, scallops, soft-shell crab, squid, duck and rabbit amidst the appetisers - here was huge promise. Razor clams, lamb chops, cod and very unusually sirloin steak sat amongst the mains. You can see the problem.
In the end we shared 3 starters and added a couple of sides to the much agonised over main events.
The food is presented beautifully in parts (grilled rabbit marinaded in cumin & coriander with cherry chutney. Peppery and to my taste and the dish of the night at 8/10) and in the main the food tastes great. The pan-seared scallops with Laotian curry dressing absolutely gorgeous and fresh as you like (7/10). Indian Essence is a little misleading - there are as many south east asian influences as India herself. But several of the dishes need tidying or tightening. The presentation falls short at times. Moreover some of the dishes are seriously under-seasoned. The lamb (which was so tempting on the menu) for one and the yellow lentials for another.
Having deliberated for probably 3 times as long as i would normally - I got it severely wrong. The Rajistan sirloin was nearly cooked as requested (rare) and was a decent cut. But the red chilli sauce was hopeless and if an "Indian" restaurant is going to bravely add chips to the plate. Well, they have to be better than these. Crispier goes without saying. But maybe dusted with an unusual spice or two as well? The dish is 3/10 at best. I tasted mum's slow cooked lamb neck-fillet hot pot complete with baby turnips, and had it been seasoned better, this dish would have scored a lot more than 5/10.
Starters range £6 to £13. Main plates £13 to £20. Massively better value than Benares but in the main falling down on taste. The basket of mixed breads was ideal for two - and at £8 hugely less offensive than what the Cinammon Club threw at us one evening for way way more.
Fat "chap-with-no-dad" pinot noir was suprisingly ok at £22 and sat appropraitely in the background - but having bought a case in France this year for €25 euros the markup is staggering! Disappointingly no King Cobra available here - just the standard array of 33ml/66ml Indian standards. I would suggest adding a couple of complimentary alternatives. From Asia and elsewhere. Many Trappiste double and triple brews for example balance spiced food beautifully.
Double espressos with petit fours were adequate (4/10) although the rice cracker was way better.

On a Tuesday night this lot went down very well, hunger was to the fore. And I'll certainly be back to see how Indian Essence develops. The terrific menu and appetisers alone demand that. Tighten up in the kitchen and this venue could command a huge, curry loving kingdom.

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1  Thank MardleyMassif
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 3, 2013

we booked on-line a week or so ago ,for a special meal for our sons birthday, we have also, couple of yrs ago been to Benares in London, so were looking forward to eating at this "local " restaurant. We had decided to have the "Tasting menu with paired wines" . overall, we really enjoyed the meal, the service was prompt & the staff explained the dishes & the various wines that were served. perhaps the only small "niggle" was having to ask for coffee at the end of the meal after the petit fours had been put on the table....yes it is fairly expensive, but our choice of the tasting menu gave us an idea of total bill etc. would we go again.yes! & would choose from main menu & have a few beers instead of wine.

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1  Thank grumpyexec
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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