In the heart of London’s Theatre Land, Sartaj enchants local foodies with their inviting setting, superlative service and most of all, with their inspired South Asian cooking. Famous for their giant naan bread, Sartaj goes above and beyond to give diners a dining experience that isn’t quickly forgotten. Established way back in 1979, the folks behind Sartaj achieved greatness through hard work and perseverance, never taking shortcuts and always putting the customer first. On the restaurant’s menu you’ll find all the Indian classics, from vegetarian dishes like sag paneer and tarka daal to house specials such as the Bengal crab and prawn curry and the grilled fish bhuna. And their location doesn’t get much better – found along Earlham Street , just steps from the Royal Opera House and Lyceum Theatre in Covent Garden, Sartaj is right in the thick of the action. Book ahead to guarantee a table.
I booked a table at Sartaj for a pre theatre meal with my partner as part of his Christmas present. We arrived a few minutes early to our booking time to find the restaurant closed, so we waited outside. 10 minutes after our booking time we were allowed to enter the establishment. The waiter had just arrived for work and was still talking on his mobile phone as he waved us in to a table. The restaurant was cold, the ceiling looked as though it was going to collapse on us and the place was just generally grubby. There was this awful noise coming from a dehumidifier machine next to us. The restaurant had no atmosphere whatsoever, I didn't even feel as though I could talk to my partner. The whole experience just felt uncomfortable. They had no music playing either. The waiter eventually came over to us and wanted to take our drinks and food order together. He was not polite in the slightest. As he went off to make our drinks he came back and stated the card machine wasn't working so we could only pay by cash. Neither of us had cash on us and he told us to walk down the road to get some out! On this note, I turned around to my partner and said I can't eat here, it's dirty, I feel uncomfortable and this is supposed to be a nice meal, which it wasn't turning into at this point. We got up and went to leave. The waiter then got funny with us and insisted his card machine had made a miraculous recovery! This was still not enough to make us want to stay, so we left!
We had one or two issues with this restaurant. Firstly we had a 5.30 reservation but they would not let us in early or indeed till several minutes after 5.30. Then we were sat at the back of the restaurant near something which made a loud buzzing noise. When we went to order we were asked if we would please pay in cash because their card machine was broken and had the fact that there was a cashpoint machine right outside pointed out. When we said that was not OK and made to leave instead the machine was suddenly 'fixable'! Also we were served with one too many naan breads and the waiter came and collected it from our table in his hands saying that it could be used for another customer! The food itself was perfectly good hence the 3 rating but I am deeply suspicious of the staff and their service left a fair bit to be desired.
Staff tried to over charge us by not giving us an itemized bill, after we had specifically asked for one. They were rude to us all night for no apparent reason. Had to wait an hour and a half for out food to arrive.