When we go to an Indian restaurant, I often find that I’ve enjoyed the starters and the side dishes far more than the main courses. So when I found out that one of Twickenham’s finest Indian restaurants – Tsaretta Spice at the end of Church Street – had just launched a new tapas menu, I couldn’t wait to try it! It was a scorching hot day, and we sat on the terrace under an awning, enjoying a cooling cocktail and perusing the new menu. Reader, it is mouth-watering – and the food lives up to expectations. There are stacks of vegetarian and vegan options. Prices are very reasonable and two people, sharing four dishes will have an elegant sufficiency and still have not spent more than about £15 ahead, excluding drinks.
We enjoyed Avocado Bhel (puffed rice, roasted peanuts and avocado tossed with spicy garlic tomato chutney and a tamarind & coriander chutney. It was delicious, refreshing and a great mix of textures, but the cocktail glass it was served in, was awkward to share from so it would be better served in a more conventional vessel.
We also enjoyed Kesari Tikka (chicken fillets marinated with saffron, yellow chilli, mace and cream cheese), Spiced Lamb Scotch Eggs (quail eggs wrapped in spiced lamb, served with turmeric, shallot puree and kachumber salad. The tikka had a gentle heat, and was a testament to the skill of the spice master in the kitchen. The eggs were the perfect size and crispy and very tasty. But the star of the show for us was Punjabi Fish Fingers! They were piping hot, gently spiced Tilapia fillets, marinated in lemon and carom seeds. It was served with a Taka mayo and we could have happily devoured another portion if the rest hadn’t been so good.
As well as the full menu, the snack menu includes Naanwiches and salads – again very reasonably priced at under £7 a portion. We will be back there very soon!
Up to town now for another great place…Pali Hill. It’s the part of Mumbai where the top Bollywood celebs live and it is also the name of a great new Indian restaurant in the heart of London’s Fitzrovia. Situated in the premises that had been occupied by the famous Gaylord Restaurant for over half a century, locals must have been concerned when it opened with such a hard act to follow, but they needn’t have worried!
Bringing together the regional flavours of Mumbai’s vast culinary communities, head chef Avinash Shashidhara (previously River Café and Hibiscus) creates a menu focused on local, seasonal, and high-quality ingredients, pairing his classical training with inspiration from his upbringing in Bangalore. His food is vibrant and flavourful. According to Avinash they are: “Dishes you would find on your mother’s table, chutneys you would get from a neighbour, grills you would enjoy in the inner-city street markets late night and the traditional dishes that have been passed down for generations, all given a London edge for a taste of India you might not yet have experienced.”
My friend and I shared Papadi Chat and also Mangalore Bun & Crab Sukkha to start. (Having enjoyed excellent Indian inspired cocktails while perusing the menu). The Papadi Chat was a delightful mix of spiced yogurt, tomatoes, pomegranate, sev and chutneys. It was not only very refreshing, but the mix of textures and flavours was divine. The bun was more like a pastry shell, and the crab sukkha was served warm and delicately flavoured.
For mains we shared Sea Bass steamed in a Banana Leaf (with raw mango, mint, coriander and lime)…fabulous! Also ‘Paper’ Dosa with spring veg and potato sagu and chutneys. This we both felt it to be rather disappointing, as it was very greasy, albeit tasty.