I met up with a PR friend recently, to discuss new brands and projects her agency are working on, and to catch up about blogging in general. She also has her own blog, so can see things from both perspectives, which is a welcome insight.
We met at Carom at Meza (one of her clients) to sample their lunch menu and a couple of items from their a la carte.
The interior is absolutely cavernous, with regular dining tables near the front window and a mix of regular dining tables, lower chairs, sofas and coffee tables and even some booths towards the back. Quite an effort has been made to break up the space into different areas, and to inject colour. However, it still feels more like a bar and nightclub and given that there’s a DJ playing tunes from Wednesday through to Saturday nights, that’s not a big surprise.
I did like the huge stuffed toy tiger, much more fun than real taxidermy – Indian tigers belong in the wild, alive – not shot and stuffed for display.
The lunch menu offers a choice of three wraps (fish, chicken or vegetable) priced at £4.50 takeaway or £5.50 to eat in or the curry of the day (£5/ £6).
Or you can choose a bento box style meal, available to eat in only. Priced at £7.45 for the vegetarian, £7.95 for chicken or £8.45 for lamb, it’s a little spendy for lunch – you’re looking at a tenner (plus tip) when you include a drink. The box includes a portion of curry plus lentils, salad, raita, bread, poppadum, steamed rice and a dessert.
The a la carte menu is not usually available during lunch, but the kitchen kindly allowed us to order a couple of starters from it, which we enjoyed before our lunch boxes.
The bhelpuri, described on the menu as a puffed rice salad (£3.50), was excellent and a generous portion too. Crunchy puffed rice and sev (fried chickpea flour noodles), fresh red onion, pomegranate seeds and herbs mixed through with a sweet sharp tangy sauce; we both really loved it and the flavours were spot on to the ones I know and love.
The crisp fried chilli squid (£4.75) was described as being tossed in spice mix and served with a coriander dip. The dip seemed more like a sweet and sour than coriander, but was fine. The spicing on the squid was superb, and I was immediately delighted by the pungent taste and smell of kala namak. Kala namak is a dark volcanic salt which contains impurities which give it a very distinct sulphurous kick.
We asked our waitress to find out what spices were used, but to my surprise, she came back with a negative on kala namak. Later, we spoke to some of the chefs who explained that they use a ready-made chat masala, to which they add some roasted ground cumin and chilli flakes. They didn’t know the ingredients of the chat but I’m confident that it must contain this black salt. In any case, the spices worked really well with the fried squid, and I’d definitely go back for this dish.
The chicken curry of the day was butter chicken, which my friend really enjoyed. The lamb of the day was kofta curry, which I liked but didn’t love. Both curries were hotter than we expected, and I found mine a little on the sweet side. The bread was good, hot and freshly made. The lentils were in the form of a thick, tasty yellow daal. I liked that the salad included raw red onion, a very Indian choice though perhaps not ideal if returning to the office after. The raita was little more than a couple of teaspoons of yoghurt for dipping the mini poppadums and the poppadums themselves were the packet crisp style, rather than freshly cooked to order. The biggest disappointment was the stodgy pudding – an oddly sweet but bland blob, which both of us left.
Whilst I enjoyed the meal well enough, it didn’t stand out and wasn’t half as good as the Delhi Grill lunch thali which I tried recently. (I also preferred that Delhi Grill’s was served in Indian thali plates rather than Japanese style bento boxes, as here).
Kavey Eats dined as a guest of Carom at Meza restaurant.