Posted by - 08 January 2010 - No comments

Roti in Edinburgh

Outside Roti
I was really excited about visiting Roti.  After all I had read much about it after it opened under the great ownership of Tony Singh of renowned Oloroso in Edinburgh, but I was bitterly disappointed.  It was not because the food was bad, but the service was attrocious. 
Unispiring interior

Roti is located on Morrison's Street in the bottom of a grey office block.   I'd like to say that when I stepped inside I was wowed away by the interior but I wasn't.   It was raining outside and someone from the restaurant decided to line the entrance with a flattened cardboard box - classy(!) Little expense has been spent on transforming the interior to disguise it from its concrete exterior.   The room is very vast.  The windows are concealed in colourful drapes, but the rest of the walls are adorned with pictures too small to fill the walls, doing little to help make it feel less like an office. The restaurant looks nothing like the pictures on the website, which I can only imagine gone under extensive photoshopping. 

Haggis samosas
When I eat out, I like to ask a few questions about a menu, especially when I am confronted with a selection of things I've never heard of, or eaten before, and usually most waiters are only happy to oblige with my questioning but not the one who served us at Roti.

Roti isn't your typical Indian - you won't find British curry house classics like kormas or tikkas on this menu.  So, when I asked the waiter to describe some unfamiliar sounding dishes on the menu  his response was "everything tastes the same" - great I thought, then why have a menu.  It got worst from there, but I'm going to end my moaning because this is a food blog not the Watchdog forum.

Chicken pakoras

Goanese fishcakes
The cuisine at Roti, is modern Indian food served with a contemporary modern twist using local produce.  One prime example of this was the haggis samosas which we ordered to start our meal.  You'll know if you've read my blog about Martin Wishart I'm rather partial to a bit of haggis, so I was really excited about trying the samosas, having checked out the menu when I booked a table.  I wasn't disappointed.  The haggis filling was moist and nicely spiced, and the pastry had a lovely flavour,  but was perhaps slightly denser and more crumbly than standard a samosa pastry.  The other starters - the Goanese fishcakes and chicken pakora were a bit of a miss.  Both dishes looked almost identical -  the only difference was the fishcakes were served on skewers or was it the other way round.  Both were bland, but edible.

Murg Vejadilee

After the so-so starters, we were all hopeful about the mains despite it including dishes neither of us were familiar with.    I went for murg vejadilee which is "chicken stuffed with cashews, almonds and saffron served with cumin potatoes in a poppy seed and nut sauce" from the Mughal Empire.  The sauce was sweet and cream like a stroganoff sauce, but the chicken and potatoes were really dry and tasted like they'd been kept warm overnight in an oven giving the meat a gloppy texture.

Chicken makhanwala aka butter chicken served with okra
The AB went for the chicken makhanwala, butter chicken and deep fried okra simmered in a wild mushroom ragout and aromatic cumin rice.   The AB enjoyed it, but frankly he admitted he'd eaten better  from his local curry house, and for half the price.  His mum tried the beef vindaloo which described as "prime Scottish beef marinated for 24 hours in a blend of intoxicating spices then slowly braised for 8 hours, served with saffron potatoes".  It was violently hot and needed a side of rice to really soak up the sauce and balance out the spice rather than a bed of crispy potatoes.

This is where Roti really falls down.  In the quest to be ultra modern with its modern presentation, they have neglected the fundamentals of Indian food - which is rich flavours coupled with spice.  It's not to say you can't mix Indian with modern, there many restaurants with Mint Leaf in London being one that has managed to marry good Indian cooking with a contemporary twist.  And where you actually get what you pay for.   We ate Roti on a Saturday night, and the restaurant was almost empty and now I know why.  This is one restaurant I will definitely not be visiting again.
Roti Indian Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon

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