Thursday, 28 November 2013

Rice Boat, Cambridge, UK- A return visit

It's been a while since I've been to The Rice Boat, but rumours of increasingly dubious service and variations in food quality have been widespread. The last time we did go they had no parathas, dosas, uppams, chapattis, or utthappams available, and we encountered a rather unpleasantly (rather than comically) rude server. And despite my love of the masala dosa I've not made much effort to head to that side of Cambridge lately.

But the other week, the Male Companion Person and I were in the area, and decided that The Rice Boat would make an excellent venue for discussing the Werner Herzog film we'd just seen, as well as dinner. Not much has changed- the tables are looking increasingly scratched and careworn, the door still doesn't close properly (though the waiting staff were on the case with shutting it and minimising icy gales), service is still kind of sketchy (you're not allowed to have fresh cutlery between starters and main courses), but the food is still really good! Well most of it. The pepper fry squid starter was incredibly bland and didn't appear to have been seasoned with anything. It was sort of alright when eaten along with the fried, salted whitebait though. But the main courses were back on top form. I had my usual masala dosa, which was light and generously stuffed with gently spiced potato, and came with two coconut chutneys and sambar. And the MCP had his usual Kerela red fish curry, which was super-spicy as anticipated. We also shared a small green bean thoren and an aubergine theeyal. I was particularly taken with the latter, and its combination of aubergine, tamarind and coconut.

Service that night was perfectly functional (apart from the weird cutlery rule), and our bill was around £50, including drinks but not service. So not a huge bargain, but perfectly reasonable considering the amount of food that was consumed. And despite everything, Rice Boat definitely do make the best masala dosa in Cambridge.

Rice Boat
37 Newnham Road
Cambridge CB3 9EY


Nora said...

Really glad to hear it hasn't taken a nose dive. I think the key is to go expecting dodgy service (i.e. don't be in a hurry!) and knowing it's not going to be bargain, and just focusing on the food. I haven't been for a while - the last time we tried to go (at 7pm on a Thursday) it was completely rammed, so they're obviously doing something right ... (The cutlery thing is really weird, though!)

TheFastestIndian said...

Yeah, I think your strategy is correct. And am glad it has managed to survive despite all the weird service issues!

Christian said...

I had a really unpleasant experience there a few years ago when I brought friends for my 18th birthday. A few of my friends wanted to eat starters as mains or share food (not having much money) and despite the fact that the restaurant was less than half full an extremely patronising staff member came out to 'explain' to us that most customers usually spent at least £15 each and we should do the same next time! I was really upset and embarrassed - not to mention surprised seeing as we definitely weren't taking tables away from wealthier customers. As a result we saw no reason to pay the service charge, but after we left the manager phoned me up (I had to leave my phone number when I booked) and told me that as I didn't leave a tip I wouldn't be welcome again. Obviously I haven't been back, and neither have any of my friends! I was completely shocked - we weren't being rowdy or unreasonable, and my birthday meal was ruined.