Not Worth the Spice! Taj Agra, Dickson

  • Average food
  • Grumpy staff
  • A bit run down

It was a freezing cold Saturday night when Michael and I found ourselves in Dickson, looking for some yummy Indian food. Despite Indian food being one of my favourites, I rarely get to eat it because the kids aren’t keen on it. This Saturday though, we’d ditched the kids (thanks in-laws!) and had decided we were keen to fill up on yummy curries!

Art at Taj Agra

Parking in Dickson at the moment is not an easy task. There’s a lot of road work and construction going on so we ended up parking in the furthest car park from the main drag in Dickson, Woolley Street. It took us an icy 5 minutes to get to Taj Agra and we were glad to arrive in the cosy warmth of the restaurant.

We arrived at 6:30pm to a largely empty room. Only two other tables were taken although it did fill up over the hour. Upon arrival we were greeted by a server who said hello, then asked us to wait while she faffed around behind the counter. After a minute or two, she grabbed a couple of menus and escorted us to our table next to the window. I was able to have a look at the space between perusing the menu. 

The restaurant premises have seen better days and quite frankly are due for a refurb. The room is quite large and probably the height of fashion in the late eighties however, the space hasn’t aged well. The tables are laminate with a wood print, the chairs a bit scuffed. The walls were a pretty depressing shade of brown and dirty cream. There was a bit of greenery in the space with fake plants dotted around and some pictures on the walls but the space was worn down and needs a lift. The best thing about the environment was the terrible music – I love a Bollywood soundtrack however Taj Agra opted for naff keyboard covers of aged pop songs.

After a short while looking at the room, I turned my attention to the menu. It was a good length containing a decent range of traditional options but it didn’t have any gluten free markings which meant I had to guess what would be suitable. 

After a short wait, the first waitress came over to take our order, however when I explained I was coeliac she was confused and went to fetch another staff member. The second waitress understood what I required and said she would check our order with the kitchen. Unfortunately, she was super grumpy, and acted like my dietary requirements were an imposition! 

We ordered the garlic prawns as an entrée, the chicken korma, saag lamb and rice for two. We also asked for a naan bread for Michael, poppadums and two mango lassi’s. The waitress headed to the kitchen and returned shortly afterwards, reporting that everything was gluten free, except the poppadums which were cross contaminated. 

Mango Lassi

We got to sit and people watch while we waited for our entrée to arrive. Our drinks arrived and it wasn’t a long wait for the garlic prawns. I always get a mango lassi when we go out for Indian food, the lassi at Taj Agra was very sweet with a little burst of tartness that helped cut through the sweetness. It tasted pretty artificial – I doubt they made them fresh.

Yummy garlic prawns

The prawns were my favourite part of the meal, they came out covered in a slightly chunky, spicy sauce with a little salad garnish. The sauce was really nice and I could taste the garlic and turmeric. It had a little spicy bite to it, enough to make your lips tingle but wasn’t overpowering. The salad was a nice complement to the sauce providing something refreshing, and the prawns were nicely cooked with a little chargrill burn on them. The only downside was a little pot of bright-green “mint sauce” that tasted like toothpaste!

Rice and curries

For the two curries we asked for them to be prepared medium spicy, which I found a bit hit and miss. The chicken korma had quite a lot of bite to it, more than I expected from a korma, and although the chicken was nicely cooked and tender the sauce was not good. It lacked the creamy texture of a korma and it could only be described as a generic curry flavour. It was quite disappointing. 

Chicken korma

The lamb saag was not particularly impressive either. It was less spicy and the meat was well cooked, with quite large tender pieces of lamb, however the sauce was average. You could see cooked spinach in it (though not nearly as much as usual in a saag dish) and there was a slightly more tomatoey flavour, but there was very little difference in the flavour of the two curries, as if someone had thrown a bit of curry powder in them. On the plus Michael said the naan bread was pretty good, crunchy and nice, although obviously not gluten free!

Saag Lamb

Our meal came to $84.00 and it wasn’t worth it! Taj Agra has been around in Canberra for a long time. Unfortunately, that time has not been kind – menus, venues and staff attitudes need an update. The next time we’re hungry for curry, we’ll be looking for somewhere else. I didn’t get glutened but that’s not enough to make a good experience. Overall the experience was meh as the staff, food and décor were wholly uninspiring.

35 Woolley St, Dickson ACT 2602
02 6249 6633

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