On a very grey, wet and cold Saturday afternoon in December, what could be more inviting than a warm and friendly restaurant and the promise of good food?
I like food – full stop. But if I was forced to choose one cuisine to dine on forever, there’s no question that it would be Indian. Of course, in the UK, what we label loosely ‘Indian’ actually represents far more of South East Asia. It’s everything from Pakistani to Bangladeshi, plus regional Indian specialities – andÂ India itself is a vast country.
This, in turn, means that faced with a new restaurant, I’m never quite sure what to expect, but being offered ‘Indian Fine-Dining’ was a treat not to be refused. And the Mumbai Diners Club is certainly a far cry from your quick and average korma on a Friday night.
We were greeted front of house by Merwyn Pereira – also the pastry chef – who talked us through the more unusual and elevated dishes on both the a la carte and main menus, and pointed out the two tasting menusÂ – eight and nine courses, respectively, with paired wines – available every evening. (I would come back, I said immediately; with a more discerning dining companion than my eight year old currently in tow).
Lunch may well be a less extensive and leisurely experience, but it’s excellent all the same. There is a Quick Bite (Â£6.95) or a two course buisness lunch (Â£9.95) with a selection of starters, meat and vegetable curries, breads and rice, if you want to stick with what you know. There is also a lunch ‘tasting menu’ incorporating some of the more ‘refined’ signature dishes – and all I’d say is, if you’re going for this, go early enough to savour it.
Being fairly au fait with Indian food, and not fazed by spices (courtesy of much time spent in Bangladesh) we asked Merwyn to bring us a few of his favourites to share.
The platter ofÂ lamb, chicken, prawn, and corn and pea kebabs – made the 8 year old’s eyes light up and he was quick to tuck in. Alongside was sea bass with coconut crust (‘posh fishfingers’, said the boy) and we devoured those too. There was also a plate of pakoras, in which real vegetables were still visible, and which were definitely on the spicy side if you’ve delicate tastebuds.
For mains, the breast of Gressingham duck – marinated with ginger, garlic and cardamom – andÂ served with a coconut sauce, was a pleasure. The monkfish tikka, a great contrast, appearedÂ simply but cleverly spiced and was something I could eat at anytime. There was also a chicken korma, kindly brought in case theÂ year old wanted something more familiar, that hardly got in look-in once we’d tasted the rest, and shared the rice and naan.
It’s a nice balance of old favourites prepared with fine ingredients, unlikely dishes, or those with a new twist, and there’s also plenty of choice if you want to stick with more healthy living options.
I will not hesitate to go back; there’s so much on the menu I would like to try (not least the dessert offerings from the pastry chef). And I’m not alone, the young family at the table beside us booked their next lunch before they left.
Lunch 12-2.30pm and dinner from 5.30pm daily.