Considering that Adam took over 130 pictures of London restaurants we ate at, it was only natural that we start chronicling our thoughts and opinions about the food we eat. We've totally become accidental foodies. It all started out when Sheila started calling Adam "the human trash compactor"; since he eats almost anything. But somewhere along the way we started having discussions about food and seeking out culinary adventures when on travel. We bring a unique perspective to this arena as we're both vegetarians (no meat, poultry, or fish). I suspect we will both have varying opinions on the food, and hope to not only have a record for posterity, but provide some fun, useful if not amateur insight.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Trishna, Michelin Starred Indian in Marylebone

Nowhere else can you find Michelin star Indian restaurants than in London, where curry is the official dish and Indian chefs reach celebrity status. Several years ago Sheila and I went to Tamarind in Mayfair for a tasting menu of 10 delectable dishes. One of the finest meals we've ever had. On this trip, we decided on Trishna in Marleybone, a chic neighborhood tucked between Regent Park and Hyde Park.

It's a relative newcomer to the Indian haute cuisine scene serving up Southern Indian coastal inspired dishes. The restaurant is unassuming but very charming - two adjacent walk ups converted into dining areas with painted white bricked walls, old Air India travel posters, and dimly lit chandeliers. As you can discern, this clientele catered to is not Indian.

First impressions, the food was good but not transcending; the service was spotty and often puzzling, the space was charming (wold love to buy a flat with the same bones), and the price was rather high (total bill with drinks was £82). Our recommendation, skip Trishna and try Tamarind or Amaya if you want elevated Indian fare.

Now for details, we decided to order two starters, two side curries, the naan basket, and dessert - aubergine chaat; tandoori paneer; spinach and corn curry; hyderabadi split pea daal; garlic, fennel, and plain naans; and a trio of ice cream (rose and white chocolate, pistachio, and mango).

Aubergine Chaat - probably the best dish we had all evening. Lightly fried aubergine cubes served with sev, mint chutney, tamarind and date chutney, yogurt, garnished with cilantro. Sheila is not a fan of aubergines, but the flavors were subtle and the texture crunchy. I enjoyed the balance, but it could have been better with some citrus like oranges or pomegranates.

Tandoori Paneer - had a nice smoky rub flavor and coated really well in tandoori spices. However, we found the individual pieces to be too large, and would have preferred to see each split into two. The paneer was solid but not memorable. The side corn slaw was refreshing and slightly sweet, but the pairing with the paneer didn't quite work. A tasty overall dish that we would order again if we happen to come back.

Spinach and Corn Curry - a bit bland lacking in spice levels you would typically find in Indian dishes. It kinda tasted like puréed spinach with a few corn kernels thrown in. This could have been a great dish of there were some cooked tomatoes, cumin, fennel, and chili powder. We'd pass on this dish again.

Hyderabadi Daal - a nice seasoning level but didn't have much heat. The daal was cooked well, the consistency was nice, the flavors were balance; but similar to the tandoori paneer it was not memorable. We found ourselves combining the daal and curry; it tasted better that the individual dishes.

The naan and  ice cream were divine, funny how the complementary dishes stole the show. The naan was flavorful, chewy, and a bit smokey. It was a great vessel to scoop up our curry and daal. The ice creams were fresh and not too sweet. Each of the three types (rose and white chocolate, mango, and pistachio) could stand on its own. I really enjoyed the mango while Sheila enjoyed the rose and white chocolate. Both dishes we would order again.

Unfortunately, the service was not up to Michelin standards. In typical Indian fashion, three separate waiters came by to ask us the same questions - ready to order food, would you like a drink? Clearly we were trying to relax and order leisurely, that was not possible. There was this notion that we were not worthy patrons and no real explanations when the dishes came out. Our bill also was wrong, as the waiter incorrectly charged a service fee twice. All the other patrons seemed to have a bit better service level, but even such I heard several of them complain about the service as well. Perhaps if the food was better, we would have felt differently. I give Trishna a disappointing 4.5 out of 10.

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