Blue Mango Restaurant, The Marina, Brighton.
This was initially intended to be of review of Blue Mango, a hitherto fairly reputable Indian restaurant in The Marina, Brighton. However they couldn’t be bothered to take our reservation when we called. In turn we can’t be bothered to write a review.
Blue Mango‘s inability to deal with demands for food by humans led us rather unfortunately to a night of unintended farce at The Rickshaw, Ship Street, Brighton.
As reporters and critics, we don’t pretend to be experts in the art of actually running a restaurant. However it says a lot when the restaurant staff appear to be entirely taken by surprise by a surge in demand on Valentine’s Day. Initial observations were that it was quite fun watching the staff turning people away from a restaurant that remained half full all night. Unfortunately it was also a little annoying to bat off three different staff members demanding orders when we had barely sat down. It quickly became apparent that they were not working to any kind of system and that their in some cases minimal command of the English language would quickly conspire to create a total disaster of an evening.
The decor in the place, sort of a mish-mash of oriental and designer, is initially pleasing. Then one observes strangenesses such as the attempt to create an oriental garden by throwing lots of gravel onto the floor of an upstairs bathroom, and begins to realise that the apparently deliberate artlessness is in fact symptomatic of the chaotic and demented minds which at The Rickshaw have conspired to create a monumental disaster from the – let’s face it – fairly traditional ‘restaurant’ concept.
To start with a number of items were unavailable from the menu – surely unforgiveable on a night one would expect to be unusually busy? I tried to order scallops, but was told these were not available. There were a number of other mini-farces as orders were made and later changed due to other missing items. Some of the cocktails could apparently not also be had. Or maybe they could. Who knew? Not the staff, certainly. I ordered a The Lost Rickshaw, which actually never arrived, something I was so confused about at the time that I only realised with hindsight. My companion was told that she could not have a Green Indian Dancer. She was then given one, but had it removed from her hands and given to me in a process which didn’t make any sense. I enjoyed her cocktail thoroughly though, so remained in profit at this point. What she was left with could have been anything and was not from the menu.
After some amusing confusion with waiters ambling to the table with random goodies, a few of the actually ordered starters arrived. We had a very greasy poppadom, some indifferent duck spring rolls and tempura prawns which were deep fried, but palatable enough. The one real success was sashimi, marred considerably by the fact that the staff forgot to bring it. It had been sent to the wrong table reportedly. The whole sequence was descending into Brechtian black humour and by now becoming tedious. Sashimi is hard to screw up, even for The Rickshaw. About the only thing that can go wrong is that you forget to bring it despite repeated reminders.
In terms of ordering main courses my companion was told that her (in my view courageous) choice of the Indian Tandoori Chicken platter was “too big for her”. This led to another curious sequence in which we enquired whether it is intended for two people and were told that it is. It isn’t. When it arrived it was a dish of uninspiring proportions, marred by a supermarket-bought naan bread and accompanied by a salad with mustard dressing which didn’t match the chicken in any way. It also had nothing to do with tandoori and was promptly dispatched back to the kitchen.
There was also some humorous business with some sticky rice which, when it appeared, was not sticky rice at all. A panic-stricken waitress claimed the rice was not sticky because “the wrong waitress delivered it”, which made me wonder exactly how the sitckiness is imparted? At a place like The Rickshaw it is best not to speculate. My companion gave up and ordered dumplings. There were no meat ones though, naturally, so she ended up with some so-so vegetarian things. I had the wasabi steak, which was billed as being served rare, but was neither rare nor particularly tasty, accompanied by special fried rice. The rice was fair enough, at about the standard one would normally expect to receive in a foil carton from a motorcyclist at 2am.
By this point we had concluded that absolutely anything might happen. The staff could suddenly produce trumpets and start improvising a jazz medley and we would no longer be surprised. It also wouldn’t be any worse than the night to this point.
We declined to order desserts. What would have been the point? My companion went through her usual custom of asking if a restaurant can manage Irish Coffee, and the waitress went through the customary farce of not knowing what that means (100% fail rate to date). She explained the various coffees on offer and I explained to her that the correct answer to the question was “no”.
It only remained for them to bring the bill, and for me to re-write and re-calculate it. Twice. We escaped thankfully into the night, half expecting to hear the screams of the remaining customers as the whole sorry mess collapsed soggily behind us.
We had poppadoms with mango chutney and yogurt, tempura prawns, duck spring rolls, gyoza crispy dumplings, Indian tandoori chicken platter, wasabi steak, and special fried rice. In terms of cocktails we had Green Indian Dancer, a Thai Cosmopolitan and some random ones. A bottle of Bacchus Estate Merlot was listed as being Italian on the menu but came with a French label and was overpriced at £22. The whole bill came to £104 following a number of reductions due to missing or wrong items, but if you are still reading this part I would be quite surprised.