A new restaurant on Shaftesbury Avenue is cutting against the grain of the usual fare seen on the Indian restaurant circuit. Bringing a world of exciting flavours and dishes through a concept termed as ‘half plates’. Ex-Benares chef Sameer Taneja has created a menu making Indian the new tapas. Along with the fabulous cocktail list on offer it was the perfect place for a long overdue meet-up with a childhood friend.
I love eating tapas style. A little bit of everything is right down my street. Combine this with the main ethos of the venue, ‘Talli’ being Punjabi for tipsy. Talli Joe had the potential of becoming my new best friend.
The decor over the two floors of is kitsch with bright coloured floors, black walls emblazoned with neon pink sayings, murals and authentic Indian trinkets. The cool and fun interiors lends the place a very casual relaxed atmosphere.
With a blogger disaster on my hands (my camera being out of battery – foolishly left switched on in my bag!). I had to quickly order a mango-ginger mule to get over the fact that I would have to use my phone camera. So apologies in advice for the not up to scratch photography.
The charming waiting staff suggested we choose around three or four dishes each from a selection ranging from £3 – £9.50 each. Before the arrival of your half plates you can also order from the snack menu made up of £1 or £2 pound dishes – not bad for being in Central London. With no hesitation we ordered and dived in with the masala papad. A trio of cone-shaped poppadoms filled with tomato, red onion and coriander.
Continuing with our eyes are bigger than our belly order. First up the kale chaat, a twist on an Indian staple with crispy kale, potato, pomegranate and sweetened yogurt. The crunch from the spicy battered kale and the soft flavoursome potatoes hiding at the bottom made for a totally divine dish.
Then followed my favourite Gujarati dish of dhokla which arrived in the guise of a salad. At first I was dubious, but it worked oh so well. The steamed gram flour cakes oozed a fantastic tangy sweet flavour, mixed with kohlrabi and nuts.
The messy thokku was ordered through intrigue – organic egg pickle with Andhra spices and puff roti. Sounds completely foul right? Pickled egg in spices, who eats that? Well, let me tell you, the silky creamy texture of the scrambled egg was sublime. Spread onto the flaky puff roti, I had my very own posh spicy scrambled egg on toast. The Himalayan pulao was next, made with wild mushrooms and wild rice. It was so god damn tasty – spicy, juicy and one bowl was definitely not enough. My least memorable dish was the desi slider – banana blossom and black chickpea slider with fenugreek curry, water cress and saag salad. Slightly try hard it didn’t match the rest of the high octane flavours swishing around in my mouth.
My partner in devouring crime this evening, Heena also ordered the raghogarhi sea bass wrapped in a banana leaf and rice baked. Along with the kohlapuri chaap – tandoori lamb chop with a potato salad and mustard dressing. Both dishes received a huge thumbs up.
Desserts wise Heena won with her hot black gajar halwa. Made from heritage black carrots and topped with salted peanut brittle. It was like tucking into an indian version of a sticky toffee pudding – glorious!
My choice of gulabo did not hit the same heights. The rose ice cream, betel leaf, papaya candy and rose jam did however transport me back to happy days of yonder. When I used to guzzle gallons of rose syrup milkshake at my grandma’s house, but I’m not sure I’d chose it again.
With so much to natter about we continued our evening with post dinner drinks. A classic espresso martini and an Amma’s special – gin, fresh cucumber, coriander, lime and sugar.
The enthusiastic manager Chirag wandered over for a chat and offered us both freebie masala chais, which rounded the evening off nicely.
Talli Joe is definitely not afraid of playing with bold flavours, all their dishes packed a serious punch. If looking for a quick bite to eat or well executed cocktails with an Indian twist, hunt this place down. I think its safe to say it’s definitely on my restaurant bessie list.
What’s your favourite Indian dish? Or do you prefer a different cuisine? Let me know in the comments box below.
Talli Joe | 152 – 156 Shaftesbury Avenue | London | WC2H 8HL
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