Cinnamon Spice – Silverdale Cumbria

Seriously good BYOB Indian restaurant in the Cumbrian countryside at Silverdale (Lancashire border)

S and I try to have a long weekend away every summer to enjoy the Cumbrian air and go walking. Part of that tradition includes a visit to Cinnamon Spice, an Indian restaurant in Silverdale that serves great food, has unfailingly jolly service (in our experience) and is inexpensive. That’s partly because it’s unlicensed so you can bring your own booze (BYOB) although it’s good value anyway.

 

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Cinnamon special starter (top left): mix of tandoori king prawns, chicken pakora, shami kebab and cubed lamb tikka @ £4.95

Chicken shashlik bhuna (top right) @ £9.45 – Authentic yet novel dish containing chicken tikka, onions, green peppers, tomatoes and ginger, mixed with medium spices and herbs that are cooked first in the tandoor clay oven, then marinated in a fairly dry bhuna sauce to produce a mixture of rich aromatic flavours

Motor paneer (bottom left) – cheesey peas @ £2.95

 

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It’s a fairly small restaurant and has always been full on my visits so you need to book ahead.

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Cinnamon Spice special – mixed starters with shami kebab, lamb tikka, pakora and salad

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Bahari fish bhuna @ £9.45 – cod marinated in light spices and mixed vegetables with fresh garlic, garnished with plum tomatoes

I’ve had this fish bhuna several times now. It’s so good it’s proving difficult to try anything else from the menu.

 

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Freshly baked garlic nan @ £2.50

 

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Chicken shashlik bhuna @ £9.45  – a regular fave of S’s

 

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Menu

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Cinnamon Spice on Emesgate Lane, Silverdale

 

The verdict: That we keep coming back year after year says it all. On our last visit, July 2016, our total bill for two came to £31.50 before tip. There’s no corkage fee and they’ll keep your drinks cold in their fridge. Food is excellent and – on every occasion – we’ve experienced good, friendly service.

 

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: Indian
– Address: 16a Emesgate Ln, Silverdale, Carnforth, Lancashire / Cumbria
– Postcode: LA5 0RA
– Tel: 01524 702117
– Website: Cinnamon Spice website
– Photos on flickr: Cinnamon Spice images
– Map: Cinnamon Spice

 

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Lotus – classy Indian restaurant, West End

It’s 30th December, and it’s our new tradition to dine at a classy restaurant on this date (then stay in and eat home-made food on new year’s eve). After last year’s visit to the excellent Gordon Ramsay’s Maze we had wondered where to treat ourselves this year, when LardButty received an invitation to "go try out Lotus in Covent Garden” with a voucher issued on behalf of Chef & Manager, Bhaskar Banerjee, a ‘seasoned’ chef (doh!) who trained with award winning premium brands in India before creating an “inspired collection of signature dishes” in the UK.

Lotus:
• opened just over three months ago in August 2015 and already ranks #36 of 18,000+ London restaurants on TripAdvisor
• is named after India’s national flower (a water lilly representing beauty and non-attachment, reputed to smell of myrrh, that – importantly – lends its shape to India’s mother temple in New Delhi)
• sits in the Indian fine dining category alongside the likes of Benares, Cafe Spice Namaste and Cinnamon Club restaurants.

We arrived early for our 6.30pm reservation, following a visit to the Big Bang Data exhibition at Somerset House and shopping at Selfridges, full of the joys of the Christmas holidays.

 


 

Fine dining Indian restaurant between Leicester Square and Covent Garden

Arriving early this evening (with the intention of enjoying a leisurely cocktail at the bar if our table’s not ready) we are greeted and seated promptly. We not only order a cocktail each – a Nai Dilli Darbar for K: Indian whiskey, lemonade, black salt + lychee @ £9.75 and a Sames Margarita for me: tequila and cointreau @ £9.75 – but our waitress brings us complimentary proseccos as an aperitif too (really lovely prosecco served in impractically shaped, top-heavy flutes… we’ll say no more about that though).

 

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Bar area at Lotus

 

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Cocktails – Nai Dilli Darbar (Indian whiskey, lemonade, black salt + lychee) and Sames Margarita (tequila and cointreau)

 

While we’re leisurely reading the menu, our waitress (who seems very knowledgeable about the menu and specialities despite having worked here for only a few weeks) brings us Corn Chaat Golgappa – corn puffs filled with sweetcorn and herbs, normally @ £3.75. She tells us to pour the fresh jaljeera and tamarind ‘chutney’ (a runny green sauce) in to the corn shells, and – when it becomes fluffy – to eat straight away (in one mouthful! too messy otherwise).

We are also served rice, potato and finger millet poppadoms with fruity chutneys (mango and apricot, mint, red chilli and green tomato) – normally @ £2.75.

 

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Amuse-bouche/bite-sized hors d’œuvres: complimentary corn chaat golgappa with jaljeera + tamarind sauce and poppadoms + chutneys

 

The starter menu has some inspired offerings ranging from tandoori partridge and rabbit kheema to pigeon masala dosa and chicken wing tulips.

 

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Starter menu

 

To share, we choose cod cheeks, bream and tuna coated with semolina, curry and coriander dip @ £8.75 and butternut squash + chilli samosey with red beans, dates and tamarind chutney @ £6.75.

I love all of the ingredients of the samosa – particularly tamarind, and while the pastry initially looks quite dense, it really isn’t (it’s perfectly crumbly). While I thoroughly enjoy the samosa, the flavours are denser and much less subtle than those of the cod cheeks starter which are more delicate, lighter, and simply divine.

 

Starter recommendation: cod cheeks

 

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Cod cheeks, bream + tuna starter

 

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Cod cheeks, bream + tuna starter

 

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Squash + chilli samosey with red beans, dates + tamarind chutney

 

After all of the aperitifs, amuse-bouches and starters we have a breather before the main course and enjoy sipping gruner veltliner, one of my favourite dry white wines from Austria @ £31.75 a bottle (this one is a perfect accompaniment to spicy food).

Bhaskar Banerjee pops over to introduce himself, see how we’re doing, and talk a bit about the influences and style behind the unique dishes he’s created. It’s a nice touch (and something that I really like about my favourite restaurant, Nancy Lam’s Enak Enak where Nancy always does the rounds and talks to her customers, giving it her personal touch. Done well, it goes a long way).

For main course, K orders 23 karat gold lamb shanks khorma (neither of us are convinced that the gold leaf – which, we are told “aids digestion” – is necessary – but the lamb is amazing, slow cooked and falling off the bone with gorgeous spicy flavours) served with roast potato mash, papaya pickle, spices, green cardamom and cashew @ £21.75.

I order red snapper kebab with mustard essence, crisp Bengal gram and dill yoghurt @ £13.75 and a raita cucumber, rose petals + pomegranate @ £1.75 (gorgeous!).

And we share some sides:
palak pudhina paneer: spinach, coriander, fennel + mint scented sauce @ £6.75
dal maa dumpukth: black lentils simmered overnight with garlic, tomato, butter and cream) @ £5.7
saffron and green peas rice @ £4.75
house bread basket: variety of Indian flatbreads @ £3.75.

 

Main course recommendations: lamb shanks khorma and red snapper kebab

 

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23 karat gold lamb shanks khorma with roast potato mash, papaya pickle, spices, green cardamom + cashew

 

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Red snapper kebab with mustard essence, crisp Bengal gram + dill yoghurt

 

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Saffron + green peas rice

 

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Dal maa dumpukth – slow simmered black lentils + raita with pomegranates (right)

 

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Palak pudhina paneer – spinach + cheese

 

It probably won’t come as a surprise to hear that we’re too full for a dessert… but in the interests of reviewing every course (!) we sample a raspberry and cranberry shrikhand with dumroot halwa @ £6.75 with two spoons (lovely, deep fruity flavours). Oh, and then there’s a complimentary sweet pastry to squeeze in (really nice).

 

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Raspberry and cranberry shrikhand

 

And, as if that’s not enough, there’s just one more amuse bouche taster-stylie-dessert:

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A final, complimentary taster sweet-pastry course

 

This meal for two would have been £184.00 including service so roughly £90.00 per person for a shed load of absolutely gorgeous, tasty (and taster) dishes and drinks.

The verdict: Great, classy Indian food with a difference. Good choice of drinks (without being overly extensive) and wine pairing recommendations. Really good service. Our table (table #16) was on the edge of the bar thoroughfare and server-station/till area where serving staff inevitably wait and can be quite busy, so – if booking a table, I’d recommend requesting a table in the rear area (where there are some booths and less people-traffic).

The memory of that lamb shank and red snapper will stay with me. I left feeling very full but wanting to return and try more of the menu. I’ll definitely be back…

 

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Indian
~ Address: 17 Charing Cross Road, London
~ Postcode: WC2H 0EP
~ Nearest station: Leicester Square
~ Website + menus: Lotus website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Lotus food
~ Location: Lotus map

 

Lotus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Benares – Indian in Mayfair, W1

Michelin starred Indian restaurant on Berkeley Square

Celebrity chef, Atul Kochhar may well be a familiar face, if you’re a fan of cookery programmes like Saturday Kitchen. And he’s the chef behind Michelin star restaurant Benares in London’s Mayfair, with a reputation for blending upscale Indian cuisine with British style.

Benares has been on my ‘to visit’ list for years. And GH’s arrival in London today (from the Caribbean) provided the perfect excuse to go and treat ourselves to a Christmas dinner with a difference. Starting with cocktails in the relaxing bar lounge this Friday afternoon, I had a gorgeous Saffron Daisy gin cocktail @ £14.00 (Sipsmith premium London dry gin with handpicked saffron, cardamom, sugar and lemon juice).

 

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Benares bar lounge

 

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Cocktails at Benares – saffron daisy gin (foreground), reverse vesper vodka martini (back), pineapple and ginger mojito (right)

 

We had a 2.30pm table reservation for our party of three. Not realising that the kitchen closes mid-afternoon between lunch and dinner sittings, we were politely hurried to our table (in the rather plain and dark restaurant) and encouraged to order quickly, as the kitchen was – very kindly! – being kept open for us. A bottle of picpoul de pinet (dry white wine) @ £29 and the two-course Christmas dinner menu @ £37.00 seemed appropriate for our festivities.

 

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Benares interior – dark and uninspiring

 

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Poppodoms and fruity chutneys + saffron daisy gin cocktail

 

For starters, GH and I both ordered vegetable and edamame bean seekh kebab with walnut chutney (a tantilising blend of flavours – just stunning), while GN had potato and pea samosa chaat with rose yoghurt and date and tamarind chutney.

 

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Vegetable + edamame bean seekh kebab with walnut chutney

 

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Potato and pea samosa chaat

 

For main course, GH and GN had grilled paneer with punjabi chickpeas, while I had kokum flavoured Mangalorean haddock curry with spicy tapioca mash, accompanied by a variety of rices and Indian flat breads (all of which was a treat for the senses and faultless).

 

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Grilled paneer with punjabi chickpeas

 

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Mangalorean haddock curry

 

While the portions might look quite small, we found them deceivingly filling (including complimentary bar nuts and poppodoms, along with sides of bread and rice, etc). Despite being full, it didn’t seem right to forfeit Christmas pudding so we shared one between us – a fab idea (Spiced. Perfect. Beautifully presented).

 

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Garam masala spiced Christmas pudding with vanilla bean + brandy sauce with raspberries and holly-shaped fruity sauce

 

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Novelty factor – expanding steaming flannels

 

Our waitress served what looked like a tray of mints, then poured hot water over them. The white balls started to expand, initially looking like something to eat, before fully growing into a tower – a steaming hot flannel – sterile for cleansing, and beautifully presented.
 

The verdict:
The food at Benares is Indian with a twist and is simply stunning. And there’s an excellent cocktail menu and wine list. While it’s a pricey, fine-dining restaurant, there are some affordable good wines on the list (eg. picpoul de pinet @ £29.00 a bottle). Eating here is definitely an experience that you pay a bit more for. And it’s worth it (our bill for three came to £270.00 including service).

Serving staff were on the ball, although – on our visit – there was an abundance of servers and, if anything, could have asked us if everything was ok less frequently.

While Benares is in a premium location on Berkeley Square in the heart of Mayfair, you wouldn’t know it once you’re seated in the first floor restaurant: there are no windows, it’s dark albeit with soft mood lighting. If the intention is ‘plain and simple’, I found the interior rather dull and uninspiring.

 

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Indian
~ Address: 12a Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London
~ Postcode: W1J 6BS
~ Nearest station: Green Park, Piccadilly, Oxford Circus
~ Website + menus: Benares website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Benares
~ Location: Benares map

 

Benares Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Hot Stuff – Indian at Vauxhall

A hidden gem, not far from Vauxhall station, Hot Stuff serves great quality Indian food and – being BYOB – is excellent value.

The small restaurant has a nicely intimate feel, and even on our Tuesday evening visit last night it was buzzing. Serving staff were racing around while looking after customers well.

That you can take your own booze (as they don’t have a license to serve alcohol) keeps costs down. Our meal for three came to about £30.00 excluding service. Yes, £30.00!

 

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Hot Stuff – a hidden gem on Wilcox Road, SW8

Our order included:

– Vegetable samosas @ £2.25
– Chappati – unleavened flatbread @ £1.50
– Peshwari naan – leavened, oven-baked flatbread @ £2.75
– Chicken Biriyani – mixed with rice @ £7.50
– Chicken Madras – spicy hot curry @ £5.50
– Aloo Gobi – potatoes, cauliflower + Indian spices @£3.75
– Chana Masala (chickpea curry) @ £4.00
– Rice, plain @ £2.25
– Soft drinks @ £1.00

 

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Chicken madras – spicy, sloppy and very, very tasty

 

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Aloo gobi (front) and chana masala (rear)

 

Samosa and clean plates
Veggie samosa, and
After (defeated!)

 

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Sample menu as of Sep 2015

 

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Humour too…

 

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Indian
~ Address: Wilcox Road, London
~ Postcode: SW8 2XA
~ Nearest station: Vauxhall, Stockwell
~ Website + menus: Hot Stuff website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Hot Stuff food
~ Location: Hot Stuff map

 

Hot Stuff Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Babur – Indian fine dining in SE London

Babur offers creative, stylish and thoroughly mouth-watering Indian food that’s a cut above the rest

While you can dine in the restaurant near Forest Hill, we wanted to stay at home and be pampered. For us, this was a whole new, fine-dining-at-home experience.

There are two delivery menus to choose from – traditional or premium. The premium menu offers dishes from the restaurant menu and – unless you’re on a budget – is excitingly enticing and irresistible. Take a look, you’ll see what I mean.

For starters we shared:
~ Punjabi paneer sandwich: char-grilled cottage cheese sandwiched with mint chutney @ £5.75
~ Goat patties: Shredded, warmly spiced patties dry-fried on a tawa (flat cooking-plate) served with tamarind and raisin chutney @ £6.75
~ Monkfish tikka: char-grilled monkfish flavoured with fennel seed + mustard, with spiced coconut broth @ £7.50

 

Stylishly different

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Starters: goat patties + Punjabi paneer

 

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Punjabi paneer sandwich with mint + mango ‘traffic-light’ sauce @ £5.75

 

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Goat patties with tamarind + raisin chutney @ £6.75

 

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Starters: Monkfish tikka – char-grilled monkfish with fennel seed + mustard, and a spiced coconut broth @ £7.50. Divine.

 

For main course, I had stone bass fish with interesting fennel flavours, and K had a chicken chettinad (lovely peppery, sloppy sauce – really good).

 

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Mains: pan-seared stone bass with a South Indian fennel chutney, green beans, channa dal and fennel pollen @ £13.95 (absolutely gorgeous even if the photo looks a bit messy!)

 

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Mains: chicken chettinad – peppery Chettiyar masala from South India in a rice dosa fool’s cap @ £10.85

 

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Baghare baigan – aubergine with peanut sauce side dish @ £5.35

 

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Crispy fried potatoes – seasoned with dried mango powder, side dish @ £3.95

 

I’m carrying delicious food from Babur
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True

Our fine-dining-at-home experience totalled £98.25 (a very generous banquet with enough leftovers for a second meal, that included a few beers too).

The verdict: On the plus side, there’s the ‘fine dining at home’ experience. But on the downside, delivery times can be long. We’ve ordered from Babur a few times and our most recent experience was a let-down. We placed the order at 5 to 7 on a Saturday evening. After 90 minutes we called them to check the status of our order and were told that deliveries usually take two hours and to wait a while longer (they didn’t check our name or order details). Shortly after 9pm (just over two hours later) the delivery arrived. It was a cold November evening and the food was cold too. While I enjoyed the cold monkfish tikka in a cold broth, K would have preferred it hot as intended. Be prepared – order early!

On this occasion, our order included a bottle of prosecco. On arrival it was very cloudy and tasted of bitter apples (overly dry and unpleasant). On discovering there was a sediment at the bottom of the bottle, I looked up this particular variety of prosecco and found that it’s a natural, unfiltered prosecco with plenty of sediment (perhaps not ideal for deliveries as it benefits from leaving the sediment to settle, rather than serving cloudy).

The LardButty rating for Babur has been lowered to 3.5/5.

 

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Cloudy, bitter prosecco with plenty of sediment

 

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Indian
~ Address: 119 Brockley Rise, London
~ Postcode: SE23 1JP
~ Nearest stations: Honor Oak Park, Forest Hill, Catford
~ Website + menus: Babur website + Premium delivery menu
~ Photos on flickr: images of Babur food
~ Location: Babur map

 

Babur Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

La Porte des Indes – Marble Arch

K and I came here back in 2001 (when we worked together in the Marble Arch area) and thoroughly enjoyed it. We remembered it being ‘posh Indian’ (as opposed to the street food kind of Indian cafés that are popular currently) but we hadn’t been back until now. Hey ho, that’s London – there’s so much choice.

La Porte des Indes differentiates itself from other Indian restaurants by offering French-Creole influenced dishes from Pondicherry, a former French colony in India, in a relaxing, stylish environment. There’s a soothing waterfall wall feature, a marble staircase and Indian furnishings everywhere (see photos here).

And on this occasion, we were after an up-market Indian restaurant in the Marble Arch area so it met our requirements. Time to re-visit.


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Lamb rasoul – puff pastry parcels


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Parsee fish – sole fillets steamed in banana leaves


We started off with cocktails and – for a starter – I had lamb rasoul, curry puffs with lamb and green peas, served with a sweet and spicy créole sauce @ £8.00, while K had parsee fish, fillets of sole encased in a mint and coriander chutney and lightly steamed in banana leaves (Chef Mehernosh Mody’s speciality) @ £12.00.


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Samudri thali – a taster selection of seafood dishes


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Shahi thali – a taster selection of meaty dishes


For main course, I had a samudri thali “a galaxy of seafood for the adventurous” @ £26.00 (included blackened salmon, a monkfish curry dish, rice, potatoes, etc) and K had a shahi thali “a royal feast of tantalising curries and tandoori specialities” also @ £26.00 (included a chicken curry and a lamb curry along with rice and veggies etc), and G had a selection of side veggie dishes (sag paneer @ £8, Bombay aloo @ £8, a mushroom curry @ £8, basmati rice @ £4 and naan bread @ £3.50).


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Inside La Porte des Indes


For dessert, S had Indian tamarind sorbet @ £6.50 and G had Belgian chocolate mousse @£8.50.


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Tamarind sorbet – seriously good, kinda tangy and completely unlike any other flavour of ice-cream or sorbet


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Belgian chocolate mousse


Including a bottle of Chenin blanc South African dry white wine @ £29.00, our total bill for four came to £243.58.

The verdict: it’s not cheap but you get what you pay for – really good Indian food that’s a bit different. And waiting staff are very professional and attentive.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Indian (posh Indian)
~ Address: 32 Bryanston Street, London
~ Postcode: W1H 7EG
~ Nearest station: Marble Arch
~ Website + menus: La Porte des Indes website
~ Photos on flickr: images of La Porte des Indes
~ Location: La Porte des Indes map


La Porte Des Indes on Urbanspoon

Needoo Grill – Whitechapel

You wouldn’t know it from looking at the small shop-front on the street, but inside Needoo Grill it’s cavernous. There are lots of different rooms split over three levels. It’s huge.


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Piles of samosas + onion bhajis to tempt you inside


Step inside and you’re immediately in the small counter area where piles of large samosas and onion bhajis await.


IMG_7732 Cavernous rooms – note that ‘Needoo’ is carved into the back of the wooden chairs


At 7pm last Friday night (another rainy day and night in London) Needoo’s was already packed, despite being tucked down a side street off Whitechapel Road (in an area with plenty of curry houses).

J, who’s a vegetarian, had been here before (we came on her recommendation). For starters we shared a large vegetable samosa @ £0.95, pakora @ £1.75 and chilli paneer @ £3.50 – all very good (particularly the chilli paneer or chilli cheese) and such good value too. The starters were served with plenty of refreshing salad and a jug of tap water was placed on the table as standard.

It’s a BYOB restaurant, so bringing your own beer (or whatever alcoholic drinks you prefer) also keeps costs down if you’re on a budget.


IMG_7728_NeedooGrill Three veggie dishes to share: aubergine, pumpkin + chickpeas


For main course, we shared three veggie dishes: daal baingun (aubergine) @ £5.50, Punjabi tinda (baby pumpkin) @ £6.50, and special Lahori chana (chickpeas) @ £5.75, along with a portion of pilau rice @ £2.75, a peshwari naan bread @ £3.50 and a garlic naan bread @ £2.80.

Needless to say, we over-ordered. There was enough here for three – our left-overs could certainly have fed another person.


IMG_7731 Total bill for two (or three!): £34.90 – before service


This was a great recommendation. I’ll certainly be back (and will be prepared to queue, as it’s a popular spot) and look forward to trying the meat grills next time.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Indian
~ Address: 87 New Road, Whitechapel, London
~ Postcode: E1 1HH
~ Tel: 020 7247 0648
~ Nearest station: Whitechapel, Aldgate East
~ Website + menus: Needoo Grill website ~ Photos on flickr: images of Needoo Grill food
~ Location: Needoo Grill map


RELATED LINKS
More East London dining:
~ Fora – Mediterranean restaurant, City branch
~ Kastner & Ovens – great salad selection
~ Mama Thai – Indian + Thai take-away curries + noodles
~ Momo’wich – outstanding Thai + Malaysian


Needoo Grill on Urbanspoon