Agni has multiple Gold Plate awards (most recently in 2011) and I had heard many good things about their buffet. To be honest, I had been itching to try the buffet ($39.50 per person Thursday to Sunday nights from 5.30pm) for some time. However, we could only schedule a catch-up for early in the week so we were ordering a la carte.
As a mother of three, I am constantly making decisions for other people, and most of them are deathly dull, so when I am faced with a large menu I like to stab wildly at random items or better yet, find a share plate or 'banquet' option.
Luckily there was a banquet option for two people. Although at $45 per person* it was more than the all-you-can-eat buffet.
Considering I came home with a large bag of leftovers, it made me realise there was probably no way I could realistically eat $39.50 worth of food.
For our banquet we received a mixed entrée consisting of two generous and moist chicken tikkas, six very garlicy seekh Kebabs chunks, four ok prawn pakoras, and four vegetable samosas. The platter comes with a small dish each of mint chutney and raita, a small salad and a bowl of pappadams.
Unlike many banquets which dictate what dishes you can have, there is a degree of choice with Agni's: you can have the butter chicken or a lamb/beef masala; the Goan fish curry or prawn masala plus your choice of any of the vegetarian dishes.
We asked the waitress what the difference between the fish curry and the prawns were. She paused and said 'well, we have won a prize for the fish curry. The prawns are ok but the fish is an award winner'. Well, that is a pretty clear choice then. You can also have your choice of naan bread (we chose garlic and it was pretty potent) plus either biriyani or pulao rice. Oh and dessert (choice of three) and tea and coffee.
As I write this, I realise that we weren't actually offered our tea and coffee, but then again, we were still chatting at 10pm so they probably just wanted us to leave. Although Agni is in the Entertainment Book, there is no discount for the banquet, which is unfortunate.
The curries are not large, and came out in neat white bowls. But eyes do tend to be greedier than stomachs, and we found we could not even contemplate finishing them.
The butter chicken was sweet and creamy and the chicken was moist. The Goan fish curry was tasty although I wasn't sure what type of fish they used. The majority of the flavour came from the sauce rather than the fish itself having much identity.
The winner for me was the palak paneer cubes of home-made cottage cheese cooked in a spinach sauce. The cheese (considering it is cottage cheese, one of the blandest known to mankind) was really tasty and the sauce was delicious too. I would have happily eaten the whole bowl.
Agni has a reputation as being one of the better Indian restaurants in Perth and as such, the prices are at the more costly end of the spectrum. The palak paneer is $20.95, the butter chicken $23.95, the mixed entrée (with barra kebab which doesn't come as part of the banquet) is $36.90.
I'm beginning to think the $45 for my banquet was good value, although I do not know if the servings for the banquet are the same size as the a la carte servings.
Buffet nights are incredibly popular with good reason, but when we went, a wet Monday night in March, there were only two other occupied tables and – strangely – a small group of mattress salesmen. It was a working dinner apparently, with one fellow constantly standing up between mouthfuls of curry and asking 'is it too hard in your bed?' and 'how soft is your pillow?'
I can only hope he wasn't talking to me.
The service was impeccable. We were asked how hot we wanted each dish, and she didn't bat an eyelid when we said 'mild mild mild'. There are no pretensions here that the customer cannot make their own mind up about heat.
The menu in-house states Banquet 1 is $45 per person but online it says it is $50 per person.