Maiyango is one of those restaurants that I haven’t been to in a long time because a), I had a very bad experience there once with the staff (which has since been resolved) and b), the last few times I’ve been I felt that the food wasn’t as good as it should be for the money that you pay. It all feels a bit overhyped.
The reason we headed back there on a lovely Friday evening was because they recently hired a new chef who caters for vegetarian and vegan diets. There is even a 9-course vegan/vegetarian taster menu now. So naturally, as a Leicester veggie food blogger, I had to try it out. Below is my review of the vegan options, and for a change I’ve asked Andrew to review his vegetarian dishes at the end.
Andrew and I arrived slightly early for our 7pm dinner reservation so we could have a drink in the bar beforehand. To my surprise, the restaurant was completely empty apart from a few people in the bar area. We ordered a couple drinks and were offered our canapés at the bar as well – which is complimentary if you’re having dinner. The canapés consisted of onion bhajis, masala popped rice and tomato chutney on toast. The onion bhajis were delicious – light, fluffy, warm and full of flavor. The only problem was they were too small – I wanted more! The tomato chutney was ok, but nothing to write home about and the popped rice was really tasty but impossible to eat! Andrew would empty some out on his hand and pop them into his mouth – but if I did that I’d have had lipstick all over my hands and face, so after a few tiny scoops of them I gave up.
After our canapés we were shown to one of three booths on the far wall. They are covered in pillows and have draperies framing them, so it feels very secluded and quite exotic. The only problem is that it is SO dark, that we could hardly read the menu or even see the colors of our food which is a real shame, especially if like me you like to use all your senses to enjoy a meal.
For my starter I ordered the spinach and wild nettle veloute. I was a bit disappointed by the size – it was a really small portion that didn’t do anything to satiate my hunger. The flavors were nice however and topped with very delicate cherry tomatoes and pieces of smokey flavored asparagus.
In-between our starters and mains we were given a lemon basil sorbet to cleanse the palate. It was absolutely delightful – it was sweet, sour and almost a little savory, tantalizing the tastebuds quite nicely.
My main course was squash and lentil tagine with wilted greens, lebanese couscous and sweet chilli dressing. It was a generous portion which was well received, but the lentils themselves were a bit under-seasoned and slightly bland. The wilted spinach was probably the best part – it was garlicky and flavorsome, and peppered with little crunchy bits of some type of root vegetable.
Overall it was tasty, but at £29.50 for two courses, the food needs to blow me away to be worth that kind of money. I find it strange that they charge you the same amount for a vegan dish as they do for lamb or venison. And what did Andrew think of his vegetarian dishes? I’ll let him tell you….
— Andrew —
My starter was the risotto and had plenty of flavour but as someone who still eats cheese (I love the stuff, it’s an addiction), it had too much cheese. The portion was reasonable I’d give it 6/10.
What a let down my main course was. It sounded nice on the menu: cheese again in the form of halloumi and smoked tofu kebabs. Quite frankly they tasted just like I’d opened the pack from the supermarket, given them a little colour on a griddle and stuck them on a plate. I made a better tofu kebab on saturday, and the marinade only took 5 minutes. The carbs consisted of some rice, which was dry and the garnish was some sort of very bitter marmalade dabbed around the plate (personally, I prefer this on my toast in the morning!). I’m a big guy and like my food, and I was left hungry. This dish scored 4/10. With my skills in the kitchen I could have made this in my sleep.
Dessert. Hrm, a panna cotta that was more like a stiff jelly… the flavours were there, they were very good in fact, but your spoon is supposed to glide through, you shouldn’t need to use effort to cut slices off. There is no way that this should be called a panna cotta. Marks I’d give this 6/10.
Overall for the money I felt like I’d been dealt a bad hand. We can have three meals at our favourite balti house for what we paid for this meal, and that place scores a 9/10 for me every single time! It’s tough to find a nice place for a meal in Leicester, and sadly Maiyango did not step up to the plate. I will find it hard to go back as the food has never wowed me. Thirty quid for two courses? No one wants to admit they wasted 100 quid on a subpar meal….. I would have been happier with a bag of chips from the local chippy.
Well there you have it. Overall the experience wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t memorable either. The staff were great, the ambiance nice, but the food just let it down a bit.
I don’t like to give anything but positive reviews to places that are working towards catering for a more vegan/vegetarian audience, but I just can’t recommend this restaurant unless the prices come down and the food improves.