Thu, Jul 02, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Restaurant serves up ace food to stars

By John Crace  /  THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

It’s Sunday night in Wimbledon and a grungy, nondescript bloke drifts past the window. I don’t give him a second glance. A few moments later, Mimom Rahman, waiter at the Rajdoot Indian restaurant, taps me on the shoulder. “That’s Robin Soderling,” he says.

Moments later an athletic woman towering over her entourage, stops right outside.

“Dinara Safina, the top seed,” Rahman whispers. “She was in here two nights ago. She had a mixed vegetable curry and a green salad.”

Safina wanders across the road. “Looks like she’s eating Chinese tonight,” Rahman says.

Not that he’s particularly bothered, because over the 30 or so years it’s been in business, the Rajdoot has become one of the prime eating spots for the tennis crowd during Wimbledon fortnight. Rahman shows me the restaurant’s autograph book: the Williams sisters, Lleyton Hewitt, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Maria Sharapova.

The biggest draw in town is still Roger Federer, and the Rajdoot can lay claim to being his personal chef. In the first week alone, Federer has called three times to order a takeaway.

So does Roger get a loyalty discount?

Rahman smiles. “All takeaways get a 10 percent discount,” he says. “But I do deliver to him in person and everyone else has to collect. I just wanted to meet him.”

Did you?

“Well, I was a bit disappointed because his wife answered the door. So I asked her if Roger could come out and he did. I’ve got a photo of me with him on my phone,” he says.

It helps that the Rajdoot is located in the heart of Wimbledon but the food has to be pretty special to attract such loyalty. I’ll have whatever Roger has, I say.

“That’s butter chicken, pilau rice and eight naan,” Rahman replies. “I told him he had over-ordered on the naan.”

Roger is a man of taste. My chicken is fab and the king prawn sizzler, chicken korma and cashew nut rolls go down well with my wife and kids. The only drawback is I now feel so full I can barely walk, let alone play five sets. So that’s why Roger was looking so sluggish against Robin Soderling.

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