Hara the Circle Bar - What happened?

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Saturday 13 January 2007 10.12am
Quite a long time ago I posted a note praising the quality of Hara, an Indian restaurant on Queen Elizabeth Street in Shad Thames. At the time, I was struck by the quality and originality of their food, and what seemed to be a genuine commitment to quality above that offered by the usual curry houses.

But something seems to have happened there, and I'm curious whether others have noticed the same thing.

The quality of their ingredients seems to have fallen dramatically. Meats are tougher, and the overall flavours are far less fresh. This makes me think that they have tried to cut costs, and may have switched to preprepared meals.

Although we used to be regulars, we've stopped going, as every meal in the last six months or so has proved a disappointment.

Has anyone else been there lately, and encountered something similar?
Tuesday 16 January 2007 4.39am
Place might have been sold.

I had the same experience as you when I first ate their last year - it was outstanding, like you said, a cut above.

I havent been there since but I noticed they started offering delivery in my neck of the woods and have been ordering food from them. Hasn't been as good as what I had when I went there, is now closer to your average Bangladeshi take-out experince - but I was chalking that down to eat-in vs take out.

Sad to hear it is true overall.
Tuesday 6 February 2007 12.02pm
Thank you for your comments and I wish to state that the chef and I are very disappointed that we haven't been able to maintain the high standards we have set since opening.

I as yet haven't sold it to another operator and I was serving on the day that you visited. I recall that you stated that you have had better 'microwaved food' at home.

I would make no apology for the take-away food we deliver. No Indian restaurant has been able to deliver naan breads to standard delivered in the restaurant.

With our take-away we are offering Chicken Tikka Masala, Korma's etc which are synonymous with establishments from Bangladesh. It is no secret that we rarely fill the restaurant and with the demands of the general public for regular curry house dishes we have offered a take away service which is priced quite keenly and is doing a good trade.

The take-away service was started because we wanted people in the area to try the food and then come into Hara. It also enables us to use or turn the ingredients in the kitchen so that it always fresh. The only difference in my mind is that when ordering chicken and lamb dishes from the take-away menu you will be offered Halal items as opposed to the more expensive organic variety in teh restaurant.

Thank you for supporting us since opening and sorry we couldn't maintain the standards we had set.
Tuesday 6 February 2007 1.54pm
Perhaps you could offer a discount to members of the London SE1 Forum - I'd been keen to pay you a visit...
JQL
Tuesday 6 February 2007 3.51pm
Always good to see owners and managers directly responding to customers. I have been to Hara a handful of times and always been fairly pleased. Service is good and the food is a tad aspirational but still solid. The only woory was always the lack of custom which made me doubt either the freshness of the food or the viability of the business. So takeaway seems to make perfect sense for stock rotation and food freshness and I will have to try it...do they/you deliver?
Tuesday 6 February 2007 4.57pm
Yes - they do free home delivery from 5:30 to 11pm within 3 miles, but there is a minimum order of 15

You can get their latest takeaway menu here...

http://www.hararara.co.uk/images/HARA%20menu.pdf

Have to say, I have not tried it yet - but it's only 2 mins from my front door so I have no excuses!!
Tuesday 6 February 2007 6.12pm
I had a couple of meals at Hara when it opened (I was living in the Circle at the time) and was extremely impressed with the food - I thought it was up there with some of the supposed best Indian restaurants in London (maybe not quite Rasoi Veneet Bhatia, but certainly the Cinnamon Club, Chor Bizarre etc.), and certainly far superior to the Bengal Clipper, the only local competition (which, incidently, is a Bangladeshi restaurant, with unashamedly Bangladeshi food). We didn't go there regularly however, because it was just too expensive, taking into account the location and the atmosphere (which is ok, but not in any sense special). Had Hara offered a special deal to local residents in Shad Thames, or a cheaper delivery option at the time, I certainly would have been there/ordered more often. Now that I know about the delivery option, I will certainly try it out when we next fancy an Indian, and I encourage others in the area to do the same, as, in my opinion, it's very unusual to have such good indian food available locally (assuming of course that the quality issues raised by the first two posters are first solved, and it's not clear from the owner's post that they will be).
JQL
Tuesday 6 February 2007 6.21pm
Thanks for the info and the link.
Wednesday 28 February 2007 10.26am
Readers of the SE1 Direct newsletter will have spotted that Shelley is running a special promotion for readers:
http://www.se1direct.co.uk/issues/index.php?issue=329

Editor of the London SE1 website.
Subscribe to our SE1 Direct weekly newsletter.
JQL
Wednesday 28 February 2007 11.19am
I have now tried the takeaway from Hara a few times and have been pretty pleased. Their food is good and is better than Mumbai and much better than Tower Tandoori - both of which I used to use. The only real problem I have experienced is that their driver got lost last time on the long (1/2 mile) journey to me and consequently took ages and my food was a bit cold so be explicit with directions.

Anyway, definitely worth a try and thanks for the info.
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