From offal-ly good flatbreads served with a side of heavy metal to mince on toast on chintzy china, there’s a lot to love about eating out in London right now. If you, like me, are in possession of a palate that’s inclined towards Indian flavours, why not try something similar yet deliciously-Desi from one of the capital’s best Indian restaurants?
`Side note: there’s so much to digest, I’ve split this edible lust list into two. So, should this lot amuse your bouche, look out for more next week…
The dish: Black Axe Mangal’s lamb offal flatbreads
In the tiny open kitchen of his equally-diminutive rock’n’roll restaurant, Lee Tiernan rustles up the Turkish-ish flatbreads that you’ll dream about for days following your visit. Wham, bam, thank you, man. If you’re into innards, order the lamb offal incarnation – smoky-crisp-chewy dough, pungent meat, chilli sauce, tahini mayo, tangles of piquant pickled onion and a shower of chopped parsley.
The Indian answer: Darbaar’s chilli chicken naanza
The KISS members’ painted faces gracing Black Axe’s oven wouldn’t go with the glam decor at Abdul Yaseen’s first standalone venue, but his tandoor gives birth to naan-pizza hybrids certain to please any B.A.M acolyte. Toppings are a little less-leftfield but just as fulsome of flavour: try the smoky-savoury, spicy chilli chicken, caramelised onion and cheddar number.
The dish: Santo Remedio’s baby potato flautas
Offered up at the hip new Shoreditch Mexican alongside meatier treats including beef barbecoa tacos and ox tongue, this dish might initially sound unremarkable, but you won’t forget it in a hurry. Soft, spicy potatoes are encased in a pair of crunchy deep-fried pastry cylinders; their exteriors lightly anointed with guacamole, the whole lot strewn with Mexican cheese and neon-pink pickled onions. Do not share.
The Indian answer: Amar Gaon’s moghlai parathas
Trays of these vast, square, golden-fried pastries often take pride of place in the window of my favourite Brick Lane cafe Amar Gaon. The Bengali answer to the Tex-Mex chimichanga, they’re awful for your heath and awfully hard to resist. Typically spicy-hot and stuffed with chicken, spring onion, and egg, these savoury snacks will keep hunger locked up better than a big old bowl of Shreddies. If offered ketchup, use it. And if not, ask for it.
The dish: Meat Liquor’s black bean chilli fries
Given its carnivorous moniker, vegetarians are pretty well looked-after at Meat Liquor. Delivering a welcome mix of textures and tastes, the veggie chilli fries are guaranteed to get pulses racing; a substantial mountain of fries topped with a veritable avalanche of black bean chilli, onions, jalapenos, mustard and supposedly ‘optional’ cheese which should be considered non-negotiable (unless you happen to be vegan…).
The Indian answer: Darjeeling Express’s papri chaat
Crisp, crunchy, soft, tangy, fruity, spicy, cool… it’s all going on in each and every mouthful of the mouthwatering chaat Asma Khan has perfected since Darjeeling Express came into being. Comprising broken pastry wafers, superfine chickpea flour noodles, boiled potatoes, chutneys and more, this cold dish is so hot right now: full of surprising contrasts that make perfect sense, welcome at any time of day and on any day of the week.
The dish: Quality Chop House’s Galloway mince on toast
Chef Shaun Searley’s never-less-than mouthwatering menu might change daily, but his mince on toast is a mainstay; super-savoury beef served atop dripping toast made with Elliot’s Bakery sourdough, watercress’s peppery-hot bite lifting the lot. Once you’ve licked the plate clean, pop next door to the attached retail shop to check out veteran butcher Steve West skilfully wielding his chopper over some seriously fine meat – further evidence as to why this Chop House is called ‘Quality’.
PSST > Want to have it home delivered? Click here…
The Indian answer: Gymkhana’s kid goat methi keema and pao
Keema means mince – and methi means it”s going to be extra-savoury. Well, actually it means ‘fenugreek’, but it’s true to say that the herb’s umami quality will have you scraping the plate clean with pieces of the buttery, almost brioche-y pao served on the side.If you’re thinking about eschewing the brains offered as an optional addition, think again: those bheja bring a super-silken texture to the whole shebang.
Psst > Keen on keema? Try Karam Sethi’s recipe
The dish: Holborn Dining Room’s lobster thermidor tart
A rich lake of cheesy, indecently-creamy sauce, the pane-d claw full of sweet meat, that on-point pastry… God it’s good. And, as a mere starter, this tart sets the bar stupidly high for the meal to follow. Luckily the courses to follow don’t disappoint; owing in equal part to the skills of chef Calum Frankin and his team and seasonal British produce (much of it coming care of Matt Chatfield’s Cornwall Project).
The Indian answer: Assado’s prawn rissois
Think Findus Crispy Pancakes on steroids. Think I’m ridiculing the rissoi? Think again. I was devastated when production of that product ceased, and my likening of Assado’s authentically-Goan, prawn-stuffed snackerels to that very childhood treat is praise indeed. Defined both as ‘divine bites of heaven’ and ‘breaded half-moon pancakes filled with creamy seafood’, Cyrus Todiwala’s Waterloo canteen is one of the few UK places in which you can relish rissois.