Sunday, August 1, 2010

Curry Heaven, Petone

After our walk up Mt Climbie yesterday we planned to grab dinner on the way back to Wellington, so stopped in Petone armed with a couple of Entertainment Books and a crowd of 10. It took a few tries to find anywhere that could accomodate us, despite it being early - just after 5.30pm (not like you can slot ten people in a quiet table in the corner) - but after trying three or four other places on Jackson Street unsuccessfully the friendly folk at Curry Heaven put some tables together for us.

The first wonderful part was getting out of the cold - they had the gas heaters churning away and though it wasn't a bad day the chill of the wind on the ridgeline had a lasting effect on my warmth - not sure about everyone else but I definitely appreciated those heaters!

The staff were all very friendly and accomodating, and the manager was jovial and teased us while we were standing waiting for our table. Definitely service with a smile!

Though we were hungry after our walk, and as such had ordered a shared entree platter for two it was far too much for Mr Cake and I to deal to with any hope of eating our curries afterwards! It was all pretty yummy - I didn't find the samosas or pakoras exceptional, but they were both nice, well cooked, crispy - as you'd expect. :-) The bhaji was curious to me - when I've had bhaji in the past it has always been as a ball of onion with batter, but it seems that actually this isn't an unusual presentation - in this case the little pieces were separately fried pieces of onion. It was delicious, though - probably better this way as the large balls do seem to be prone to becoming a bit laden with oil! (though I still swear by the ones from Arjee Bhajee in Christchurch)

The curries were presented in these gorgeous little copper bowls - wonderful presentation. Mr Cake's curry of choice was paneer tikka masala, at the hot end of the scale. It definitely was hot - I also like my curry hot (though not always) and enjoyed the heat without it being so hot it obscured the spices. The paneer was nice and not rubbery as I have encountered in other places, and the rich tomato flavour pleased Mr Cake greatly.

My lamb madras came topped with coconut, and the coconut flavour was lovely alongside the spice and tender lamb. I also asked for hot and again was not disappointed, with the heat taking away the chill of the wind for good! I took my leftovers home as I only got through about half, and added a little coconut milk to have a milder version for lunch today, which was equally delicious.

We were very impressed with the friendly service and everyone seemed pleased with their food, too. They handled our large group pretty well (although they did miss a couple of items off our order the waiter repeated everything back before reporting to the kitchen so we were able to resolve any issues) and were very friendly. The curries were about $15 each and came with rice for the table and most of us had starters and/or beer and/or naans as well - and with the Entertainment Book discount it was $20 per person, so pretty good value for a very filling meal with great service in a welcoming restaurant!

And that brings me to my burning question of the day; we were discussing yesterday the very New Zealand habit of paying for your own meal and drinks at the end of a night out, rather than splitting the bill evenly between those at the table, as is often the case in other parts of the world. I'm definitely all for fairness (obviously if some people are drinking and some aren't, for example, it could end up being quite unfair if the bill is split evenly), but am curious to hear the other side of the coin - and know what you think.

As it happened, due to the combination of being a large group and having discount vouchers to make things even more complicated for the poor guy on the till we split the bill evenly - sometimes the complication isn't worth the effort! - but how do you work it out when you go to a restaurant, and what do you think is best?

Curry Heaven is located at 200 Jackson Street, Petone, ph 04 939 3048


  1. I remember being very surprised by how people pay for their food in NZ! Back in Asia, most often in my experience someone would pay the whole bill, and everyone else would pay their share to that person in cash; otherwise the "adults" (back when I was a kid!) would just take turns paying whenever we went out.

    In a way I think the pay-your-own approach here is effective... except when it comes to charging people separately on Eftpos!

  2. We usually split it here, or make a rough estimate of who owes what, or just take turns to pay for dinner. I really notice the difference when I dine with New Zealanders, who often get their calculators out to work the bill out down to the last penny!

    Another annoying thing with group dining is when people leave early, before the bill arrives. They leave what they think is enough to pay for their meal, but it never is, and they almost always forget to add anything for service. Sigh.

  3. It is interesting how many different tactics there are. For the most part I think the Kiwi system is good (especially as someone who never drinks more than one or two - and when I lived in the UK I didn't drink, but still ended up paying for drinks, which generally ended up being the biggest part of the bill) - but it can get annoying when you dine with a group and everyone has to take their turn at the till.

    We talked about the problem with unpaid-for bits on Saturday - apparently Douglas Adams called it the 'bodger' - the bit of a restaurant bill that's left when everyone has paid. Gotta love Douglas Adams...


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