No Indian takeaway or restaurant would expect a review even to mention its poppadum and chutney.
This most simple of simple appetisers is too basic, too easy to get right, too automatically ordered and consumed, for any critical diner to get excited over.
Yet it is, however, possible to drop marks in this area, and the Seven Stars Indian Take-away managed just that Sunday evening.
The pops were sound, but the three tiny day-glo pots accompanying them were almost comically appalling. The mango was sweet watery syrup, the mint raita tasted of sickly nothing and the onions were cut too thick and had absorbed next to no flavour (it was a small tub of raw onion coloured a bit red).
Bin fodder, barely touched, the lot.
Further disappointment came with the onion bhaji. You want hot, crisp, light. This was lukewarm, greasy, dense. Obviously cooked some while previous and either kept warm or reheated as required.
A shame, as even served so poorly the bhaji were tasty enough to suggest that fresh from cooking not a crumb would have been left behind.
Two strikes down already, the main courses were not approached with any great enthusiasm, and a chicken korma did nothing to lift the mood.
Light on chicken, again tepid – no excuse, this meal was collected not delivered, bang on the given time – and we prepared to write off the whole meal.
When all at once a mini miracle. The best jalfrezi I have eaten for ages; nice fresh veg, lively onion, peppers and chili, plenty of meat, piping hot and packing that dish’s lip-tingling spice to perfection.
Pilau rice was pleasant, plain naan less so – doughy, underdone – all in all, not great.
And frustrating. The kitchen which sent out that jalfrezi clearly knows what it is doing. Why on earth be so careless with the rest?