Sunday, August 23, 2015

Review: Shri Bheema's

A "Desi" Brunch in Aberdeen

Chicken biriyani at Shri Bheema's, served with gravy
The best biriyani so far in Aberdeen city

Contrary to what a lot of people seem to think, I don't actually know a lot about Indian food. Obviously, there is some regional overlap with Bangladeshi food, but beyond that a lot of what I know comes from road trips through India and food related recommendations from friends. Shri Bheema was one such recommendation, and I was lured to the restaurant with the promise of an unlimited buffet for Sunday brunch. Walking in, I had been looking forward to stuffing my face, but once I tasted the food I was honestly taken aback by how good the food was. 

Top photo: a fluffy white idli with sambar, fried chicken, yoghurt raita etc.
Bottom photos: dips, poppadoms, idli, and other things I do not know the names of.

I've now come to learn that the buffet changes from week to week, though the dishes follow a particular pattern. You can always expect to find poppadoms and various dips, along with obligatory idli and sambar, as seen in the photos above. The sambar was what initially got me hooked, as it was excellently prepared and completely authentic. The rest of the food - which has so far always one dish of lentils, one vegetarian curry and two types of meat curry - reeled me in, ensuring that I would be a repeat customer. 

Sesame fried chicken. I ate half a dozen.

Accompanying the above main dishes you'll get the usual nan and pilau rice and a few changing sides. I remember a dish full of sesame fried chicken from one week, pictured above, which was so good I probably ate half a dozen pieces. It made me reminisce the "Chinese" food often served in South Asia, which has a special place in my heart and I've blogged about this before. Sadly, I'm not sure how the restaurant determines the weekly buffet, and special items like these do not feature on the regular a la carte menu. 

 Top left, folded dosa. Top right, chicken and lamb curries.
Bottom left, chana and soy mince. Bottom right, unfolded dosa with filling.

The meat curries have always been very good - we had a chicken korma infused with tomato one week, and though my mind said it shouldn't work what my mouth tasted was excellent. Definitely one for me to experiment with later using my own recipe. Surprisingly, the vegetarian curries have never been particularly memorable, although for me personally the sambar and dosas have always made up for this. Speaking of which - made-to-order masala dosas are part of the buffet, but they come with only a tiny bit of (albeit delicious) filling. I expect the reasoning behind the small serving is that you can fill the dosa at the buffet anyway. 

On the left, fruit custard with mango and glacé cherries.
On the right, masala chai and mint chocolate.

Dessert isn't ignored, though it's usually just fruit custard, as pictured above. This is a particular favourite of mine so any opinion I express will be biased, but I will say that Shri Bheema's also does an excellent (if not as good as my mom's) masala chai to round off your meal. Lassis (salty, sweet or mango) are also on offer, and while they're not mind-blowing they do present another option to those of us with a sweet tooth. Of course, the buffet isn't the only reason to visit. I've dropped by for evening meals and had takeaways, and can confirm that the cooking is up to the same high standard for the rest of the menu. The chicken biriyani at the beginning of the post is particularly noteworthy, being the best I've had in Aberdeen. 

Overall, Shri Bheema's prices are slightly higher than one might expect at an Indian restaurant, with mains starting at just under £10 and going up to £14. However, given the excellent food on offer and the context of Aberdeen, I can't knock them too much for this. They've also recently redone the restaurant interior - colours are now muted and more tasteful, the plastic chairs are gone and the venue feels more in sync with the prices they charge. Service has unfailingly been friendly and attentive, and I would definitely give this place a try if you're looking for good Indian food in town. 

Food: 7.5/10
Service: 7/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Value: 7/10

Final Score: 7.5/10

Contact Information
A: 17 Belmont Street, Aberdeen AB10 1JR
T: +44 1224 645555

NB. The final score, while influenced by the sub-scores, is a qualitative reflection of my overall impression the establishment.

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