Whether you’re new to Balham or not, you’ll know the small strip towards the bottom of Bedford Hill is a small hub of Indian restaurants and takeaways. Hop & Spice, Indian Room and Eastern Empire all reside there and out of the three, the latter always appears to be the quietest. In fact, more often than not, the only people in there are the waiters, loitering around waiting for custom. It’s a vicious circle of course, because no-one wants to be the only customers in a restaurant (too awkward, no atmosphere, no explanation needed really) but they’ll remain empty until someone starts eating in.
The biggest reason would appear to be that Eastern Empire isn’t licensed to supply alcohol on site so for convenience they just go next door. A friend of SwishJunction had recommended their takeaway option, arguing that their curry is just as good, if not a greater variety, so next time we met up with this friend we took the option, ordering the takeaway around an hour before Strictly was due to begin. Our friend had warned us that they’re a little slower than the average takeaway, but we figured we’d allowed enough time and that taking a little time over several curry dishes wasn’t as alarming as it turning up within around 10 minutes, which screams ‘microwave’ to us.
So we ordered. And waited. And waited.
100 minutes later… it turns up. 70 minutes in, we call. “He’s just left, he’s just gone out the door” referring to our delivery man. We live a 5 minute drive from Eastern Empire. Sure, we could have picked up the food ourselves but we shouldn’t have to; that’s the luxury of a takeaway. Besides, if we’d turned up after the advised hour we’d still have been waiting a good half an hour for our order.
The food? It was ok. It was hot, granted, fresh from the kitchen, with plenty of seasoning and flavour, but arguably not really worth the wait. Considering their competitors appear to be much more popular we suggest they need to review their system; no-one wants to wait that long for a takeaway (and contemplate eating their friend out of desperation). The issue of waiting time is tricky; no one wants a rushed dinner but long delays kill the mood, plus dishonesty – waiting an extra 40 minutes than promised – is unacceptable.
If we hear the waiting time is a little shorter we may well give Eastern Empire another go, but for the time being, their takeaway menu has been chucked in the recycling bin.