Harrow's Station Road is home to a new family-run "chaat" (Indian , street fast food ) restaurant, SK Chaat House. We visited at lunchtime on a weekday and the restaurant was fairly busy. The look and feel of the restaurant is fairly minimalist and non-chic - it's basically an arrangement of closely placed Ikea-style tables and chairs with a typical-shop-type glass frontage that looks over the busy main road. There's a small cashier's counter at the back with a door leading to what looked like a very busy kitchen . So, pretty much in the vein of a local cafe rather than that of a "proper" restaurant.
Not long after we were seated, our drinks order was taken by a fairly frazzled young man. I had to resist the urge to chuckle as he paced up and down trying to figure out which table he'd brought out the drink for. (Aren't I evil ?). A couple of minutes later, yet another member of staff came along to take our food order; when we ordered an eat-as-much-as-you like set meal and a sandwich, we were rather sternly warned by the young owner-waitress that we would not be allowed to share the set meal. [ Ooooo!! I'm so scared!!!]
On that day, the set meal consisted of poori (special puffed Indian breads), chole (chick peas in a spicy tomato-ey gravy), plain rice, salad, daal (tempered Indian yellow lentils), potato curry and sweet boondi (sugary-sweet droplets made with lentil flour). The dishes on this buffet change daily and don't tally with what's listed on the menu. So you may want to take a quick peek at the buffet table, to make sure you like what's on offer.
The daal we ate, had been gently simmered; it was perfectly spiced and not too oily - very home-style cooking. I helped myself to more than one serving.
The chole and the potato curry were both really nicely cooked, but were a bit too hot and spicy for me.
The flying saucer-shaped poori-s were not at all greasy (a common flaw) and tasted really yummy and very fresh. The salad was simple and seemed to be made with fairly good quality ingredients.
R's sandwich was a typical Indian street sandwich, layered with coriander and mint chutney, grated cheese, diced potatoes, onions, tomatoes and cucumber. The only tiny quibble was with the size of the sandiwch portion; it was really small. The chutney was also a bit too mild; so the sandwich wasn't as flavoursome as it could have been.
One of the owners - a rotund, middle-aged man - walked over at some point and gently ticked me off in Gujarati for not eating enough from the buffet , which I found quite sweet and quite different from our previous experience of the service. But in very typical Indian style, he also had a long chat on his mobile phone while mid-sentence to us, which was a bit bizarre to say the least.
All the set menu dishes were very simply and frugally presented in stainless-steel buffet dishes on the counter. There was no skimping on quality though as they were all cooked to perfection and would not have been out-of-place in any decent restaurant in Bombay or Delhi. The restaurant serves a number of a-la-carte chaat (street fast-food) and savoury dishes if you don't fancy the set meal. Most dishes cost between £3 and £5 each.
In sum, despite the patchy service and the fairly un-ambient ambience, I am sure that this is a place we would gladly visit again given the quality of cooking and our total bill of roughly £11 including 2 soft drinks.
SK Chaat House
63, Station Road, Harrow HA1 2TY