Stirling is often a place that I’m passing through, on my travels, so my dining decisions are often driven by proximity or convenience, but on this occasion I’d made a special trip, and indeed our dining spot had been pre-selected.
I can’t claim to know Stirling well, but I’ve been visiting from time to time over the past decade, so have an awareness of the main eating and drinking spots. The premises that Mango Mayhem now occupies has been through a couple of changes in my time, and others in the company new of previous incarnations.
Once seated at our table, we were given menus to consider, and while we were doing so, passion fruit coulis amuse bouches were delivered, to enliven our palettes. The extremely enthusiastic waiter then left us to consider matters, but only after a smart tray of mini poppadoms and spiced onions were left for us to nibble on.
The menu drew mixed reactions from my fellow questers, which this evening comprised Colin, who had previously quested to Berits & Brown, and first timers Robbie and John.
What was apparent was that their dishes, particularly the starters, were potentially quite innovative. I liked the sound of a lot of them, as did my fellow diners, so it took us a good moment or two to settle upon our choices.
We ended up opting for chicken pakora for John and Colin, fishcakes for Robbie, and an Indian style scotch egg for me. We followed this with their special gosht for Colin and I, a biryani for John, and a chicken dish for Robbie.
Starters soon appeared and looked decidedly bonnie. Care and attention had been paid to their presentation, and the pakora in particular were of a generous portion size.
My scotch egg was good, but the idea was better than the execution. It was warmly spiced, but needed something to pep it up, to give it real character. A more strongly fruity chutney accompaniment, or zesty raita, would have set it on the road to righteousness, but as it stood it was a dish of unfulfilled promise.
From what I sampled, the chicken pakora were routine, while the fishcakes seemed to be the pick of the starters.
Main courses were the same sort of thing. They lacked the elegance of presentation of the starters, but did have good flavour. The on-the-bone chicken and lamb dishes featured meat with good flavour, but the sauces for both were rather over-abundant. The naans were fine, but the chips and curry sauce never quite made it beyond being solidly decent.
So overall, Mango Mayhem served us decent Indian fare at a fair price. They were trying awfully hard, which I suppose is natural for a new place trying to establish itself, but they will need to dial things back a few notches. Mango Mayhem is a misleading name, as they’re aiming for something much more sophisticated than “mayhem”, so that could use some consideration. But mainly, they need to distil their good ideas into better dishes, with their sophisticated approach to starters more consistently continued in to their main courses.
I have no idea what my fellow, considerably more experienced, quester Blythe made of things since he was far too professional to be drawn into a discussion on the matter on any of the half dozen or so occasions the waiter asked us. Not even when he enquired, if we didn’t mind, as to why we were taking pictures. As you might expect, there followed an entirely unnecessary amount of silly picture taking!
Mango Madness in Stirling is, quite simply, up itself, which is a shame because the food was good.
I tried bits of all of my dinner companions’ meals, brushing aside the usual objections of ‘get your own’ and ‘what are you doing?’ Some people just don’t know how to share.
My own starter of kerala fish cakes was good, and would have been regardless of the expensive bit of slate it was served on. I know it was conceived as a ‘fusion’ (Indo-Scottish) dish, but even so it worked. My companions all pretty much chose the same thing for their main; lamb. But, to be fair, the menu wasn’t on the format of “x meat” in a “y sauce”, so felt a little constrained.
The last time I was in an Indian restaurant that had their menu like this was in a now defunct restaurant in Leith where I once overheard a chap ask the maitre d’, “and how is the fish cooked?” only for him to be told, “well, exactly as it ought to be, sir”.
Even so, my main – tandoori chicken, on the bone – was good, served with a sauce that tasted exactly like a masala sauce, but was inexplicably called something else. Oh, and a shared portion of chips-n-curry sauce as heartily promoted by our waiter. For reference, these were in no way ‘awesome’.
In summary the Indian Cottage, just around the corner, will serve you fare at least equally good, for less. There, you will also avoid feeling like you’ve accidentally walked on to the set of a late 1980s episode of Quantum Leap.
Blythe scores Mango Mayhem
3.5/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
3/5 for setting
3/5 for service
giving an overall 13/20
Robbie scores Mango Mayhem
4/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
2/5 for setting
2/5 for service
giving an overall 11/20
We ate: passion fruit coulis; poppadoms; chicken pakora (2); fish cakes; Indian style Scotch egg; special gosht; Hyderabad biryani; tandoori chicken; naan; chips and curry sauce.
We drank: lager, water, espresso
We wore: suit; Issey Miyake fragrance (not that anyone noticed); jacket; coat
Total bill: £95.90