Published on November 28th, 2014 | by Sophia Longhi0
Salaam Namaste, Bloomsbury
Summary: The Goan dishes are pretty special and it is well worth spending an evening here to go on a tasting trip of Indian cuisine
Small and unassuming from the outside, Salaam Namaste modestly displays its glass awards on a shelf above our table. They read Chef Of The Year in the Asian Curry Awards 2012 and Asian and Oriental Innovative Chef Of The Year 2013. We are promised big things for a rainy lunchtime in Bloomsbury.
Described as ‘modern Indian cuisine’, there is a lot of scope for innovation and inspiration with an incredible palette of flavours and colours that Indian ingredients offer. We find evidence of this creative freedom on the menu immediately, and at first glance we eye up the Goan Spiced Scallops with Mango Salsa and the Chukandari Venison.
But before anything, we are encouraged to order a cocktail. We are recommended the house special, Namaste Delight and our choice is the Delhi Devil, sounding too tempting to resist. They arrive looking delightfully cute with colourful curly straws poking out of the glasses, but after a sip, we are won over. Both fresh, vibrant and full of flavour, they are well-balanced and expertly mixed. The fruit in both of the cocktails is market-fresh: the mango is deliciously ripe in the Namaste Delight and the pomegranate jewels in the Delhi Devil are little bombs of tart sweetness that complement the gin well. We enjoy them whilst nibbling on a selection of crispy papadoms that arrive with three homemade chutneys.
With such a diverse and exciting-sounding list of starters, we try a varied selection; the Manglorean Soft Shell Crab; Chukandari Venison; and the Mackerel Riechard topped with Goan spicy sauce. All are presented beautifully, and while the crab is good and the venison is unique, the stand-out starter is the mackerel. Flaky, succulent flesh and crisp pan-fried skin shows that it has been cooked perfectly and the garlic marinade and rich tomatoey Goan sauce is packed with flavour.
We are spoilt for choice with the main course, leafing through the extensive menu, but we are recommended the signature dish, Goan Style Sea Bass Cooked with curry leaf, mustard seed, in a coconut sauce. As a self-confessed Korma-lover myself (I know), I look forward to trying something different and the coconut sauce is something I can get on board with. It becomes apparent that fish is something that Salaam Namaste do very well, and again it is superbly cooked. Every ingredient is visible, resulting in a fresh, home-cooked taste, instead of seeing a blended sauce in which all of the flavours are mixed together and unrecognisable.
We also try the Lamb Shank ‘kaliyan’, which tastes like it has been simmering for hours and hours in its aromatic sauce. The meat does what you want it to do – it falls off the bone with a gentle tug of a fork. Rich and robust, this is a special dish that will no doubt go down well with red meat fans and it is also worth noting that there is a substantial wine list that will satisfy that red-wine-red-meat craving.
We round off the meal with some light coconut ice-cream, which is actually delicious and looks gorgeous on the plate, decorated with a scattering of pomegranate pips and swirl of mango purée. This is yet another example of how Salaam Namaste excel in attention to detail.
Living up to its accolades, you will definitely find originality here. The Goan dishes are something pretty special and it is well worth spending an evening here to go on a tasting trip of Indian cuisine that you might have never experienced before.
Salaam Namaste, 68 Millman Street, Bloomsbury, WC1N 3EFShare This Post