Zain’s Restaurant and Grill

by the Munching Mariner (published in East End Life, 11 July)

Zain’s is a reincarnation of The Milestone, next to Mile End station. The Munching Mariner enjoyed a meal there once but noted with surprise how quiet it seemed to be. Zain’s is Bengali-run with a very different theme to before.

Just seconds away from Mile End station

The menu is halal throughout. That means, as my Thirst Mate noted with eyebrows raised, no alcohol. There is an excellent selection of mocktails and milkshakes along with other soft drinks.

We opted for Snickers and Bounty milkshakes. They tasted wonderful, but a little warm for our liking and the waiter was happy to bring us ice.

My Thirst Mate ordered a chicken bhuna along with garlic naan bread. I selected the mixed grill and steamed rice. We also ordered dum aloo to share. That’s sweet and spicy new potatoes, fried in spices and tomatoes. The potatoes were cooked to perfection and the spice was nice.

My Thirst Mate’s chicken bhuna was tasty, but I should have left it well alone as I simply couldn’t find the space to finish my mixed grill. This was a selection of chicken tikka, lamb chops and sheek kebab which also came with a small side salad.

The waiting service was appropriately attentive. The front-of-house staff were obviously keen to please and quick to take care of our needs. Without prompting, our waiter offered to pack the remainder of my mixed grill to take home and it formed a welcome part of our meal at home the next day.

Zain’s is simply decorated with a red trim and dark wood. It is named after the four-year-old son of the owners, who claim to devote as much “care and effort into the preparation of food and service” as they do “into looking after Zain”.

Our meal came to £33.60 but there are savings to be made for students, NHS workers and lunchtime visitors.

Zain’s is at 588 Mile End Road, E3 4PH.  Telephone 8981 4100.

The Milestone

By the Munching Mariner (published in East End Life, 16th March)

The Milestone is a trendy gastro-bar a stone’s throw to the right out of Mile End station.  It’s clean and comfortable, with a row of hookah pipes on the side. I’ve been in a few times for a drink and it’s been surprisingly quiet so close to such a busy station. I always wondered why, but the landlord expressed such great enthusiasm for his chef’s food that I felt compelled to try it.

 

The Milestone
The Milestone

I popped in with my Thirst Mate on a Thursday evening and we had our choice of tables. The only other customers were a group of students who – despite knocking back mostly soft drinks – gradually became more raucous as the evening wore on. Another couple arrived later for a meal and then a trio of young men propped up the bar.

The Milestone specialises in “traditional Indian dishes cooked in a modern way”. All the favourites are on the menu though naan bread is conspicuous by its absence (chapatti and parantha take its place). There are a few surprises too; fish and chips among them. The Thirst Mate went for lentil soup followed by chicken bhuna and steamed rice. I chose lamb samosas then chicken dhansak with pilau rice.

The meals arrived within the promised fifteen minutes. It was plentiful and delicious, though the lentil soup was more like stew. We told the barman how much we enjoyed it, but he retorted with an apology: the regular chef was off and his cooking must be tasted to be believed. The service was a little scatty but well-intentioned: the starters and mains arrived at the same time, we had to request cutlery and our drinks arrived after some delay. On the plus side, the manager took an interest in us and was chatty but unobtrusive.

The Milestone has potential. The food and atmosphere were good, but it was still fairly empty. In mitigation, previous incarnations of the establishment were hideous and the new look is hidden out of sight of the nearby tube station. There are no disabled toilet facilities. Our bill came to £31.60 including a beer each.

The Milestone is at 588 Mile End Road, E3 4PH. Telephone 020 8981 4100.