Mint Leaf Lounge

I feel hungry, oh so hungry,
I feel hungry and starving tonight!
And I’m eating,
Everything that I can see in sight! (sung to the tune of I feel pretty, from Westside Story)

Us chefs are a funny lot. It’s easy to get us turned on and excited – just bring out the food porn! No, really! If there’s one thing more exciting than going to a good restaurant, it’s going to the restaurant where a friend is the head chef! Oh yes sir! And especially if that chef is a bloody good cook. So, the one step guide to eating out at friends’ restaurants? – Starve! Starve! Starve! You see, Indians not only love eating, but also feeding – it’s the most inherent of our traits. As a child I always made full use of that hospitality and gorged myself wherever we went much to the delight of all my parents’ friends and our relatives.

So, it was off to the Mint Leaf Lounge. 2nd time for me – I first went when Dhayalan Paul had just taken over, so nearly two years later, I was even more excited as he was, by now, completely in his element.

The bar was buzzing with city workers unwinding after a long day at their desks. The cheerful manager secured us a table where we sat down to enjoy a few Indian inspired cocktails (mine had chilli!) and a plate of duck kebab. Ah! happy!

At our table, we were in a state of flux. We wanted to order the whole menu, but our stomachs advised otherwise. So, after much deliberation, we ordered…

Lentil crusted tilapia, yoghurt rice, coconut chutney
Yum! Although, could have done with more of a lentil crust. Great little starter.

Tandoori chicken, chicken pickle
Highlight of the meal – the chicken pickle. I could eat just that with some naan and be very happy!

Onto the mains:

Grilled beef flank, masala potatoes, pak choi
Tasty, hearty, simple, yum. What more?

Pork vindaloo
As a vindaloo should be. Spicy, but bursting with a myriad of flavours all distinguishable. And it doesn’t burn away your taste buds.

And desserts:

Carrot halwa, cardamom ice cream
A classic. Unfortunately, with the quality of produce we get in the UK, the carrots didn’t contribute much in terms of carroty flavour. But it was tasty, and the cardamom ice cream was sensational. We ordered some just on its own as we were too greedy to share.

Apple streusel, curried apple
An interesting take on a classic. Simple and light after a big meal.

Overall Experience: 9
Recommend you to go? 9
Food: 8
Wine: 10 (Gruner Veltliner! My favourite!)

High ratings – yes, Dhayalan Paul is a good friend, but also a great cook. It’s just about the food! (sorry D!)
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