A few months ago, we popped into Chaakoo for a couple of cheeky cocktails and promised ourselves we’d return for a meal soon.
And so, for my birthday date night out, the Mrs and I returned to Chaakoo, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, to sample some Indian tapas in this restaurant decorated like a 1950s Indian train station.
We were greeted by the staff like old friends, and seated upstairs. A few seconds later, we were asked for our drinks order. I asked for a moment to consider.
A few minutes later, we’d also picked out the food we wanted, so when the waiter returned, we placed our food order too. Now, I’m not exaggerating when I say that our food was in front of us within five minutes of ordering. It’s the quickest I’ve ever been served in a restaurant. There were one or two of the tapas dishes missing, but they arrived soon after.
Now, while fast serving is great for fast food, I wonder if this rush actually took something away from the evening. Delays in service time are not good, but part of a good experience in a restaurant involves soaking in the atmosphere and having a bit of time to relax.
The food, though, looked incredible. Bright oranges and bold reds dominated. We ordered Butter Chicken, Saag Paneer, Kerala Monkfish, Jinga Masala Prawn, Aloo Baigan and Machali.
You know as well as I do that restaurant kitchens use far more butter, oil, cream and suchlike than you or I would if we were cooking at home. Our conscience wouldn’t let us go so crazy, but that excess is how they manage to make food that tastes so incredible.
Here, it could be that the huge richness was maybe excessive. A couple of the dishes tastes explosively rich on the first bite, but the second and third mouthful revealed the larger amounts of oil & cream. It’s good that these were smaller tapas style portions as a full dish of the Butter Chicken, for example, would have been too much. Bizarrely, the Saag Paneer suffered the opposite problem, being a little bland.
The best dishes were the ones that relied on a well-crafted mix of spices. The Jinga Masala Prawn – I returned to this after tasting everything else. The warm, rounded, intricate and deep tastes were truly amazing.
I’m being picky. The fact is, as tapas taster dishes, the food was incredible.
For drinks, Emma had ordered an Imperial Mojotio cocktail (Matusalem Platino Rum, green tea & hibiscus liqueur, lime, mint, simple syrup), while I enjoyed a House India Pale Ale, brewed by Belhaven.
The desserts we ordered were the Gulab Jamin and, for me, a Mango and Banana Crumble. I found the Jamin to be a little simple, doughnutty. and not soaking in syrup. Luckily, my dessert blew me away. The warm fruit filling was, again, simple, but the combination was fresh, divine and moreish. The crumble topping was pleasant, if a little shortbready, but the overall dish was amazing.
I did have a complaint about where we were seated. Upstairs, there were a couple of large fans. While I’m sure they would be very effective in the summer heat, I’m afraid that they were a little too good. The draught cooled our food down very quickly meaning that we were left with cool dishes by the time we were about half way through. Not the best…
The service was very good. I did have an unpleasant moment when I discovered a sharp screw sticking up through my seat – ouch – but an apologetic waiter replaced it, and we all laughed about my pierced bum cheek.
We would return to try out more from the menu. You should give it a try!