Queueing. Something nobody likes. I get super impatient, asking several times a minute “how long do you think it’s going to take”, and I’m sure I annoy everyone else in the queue with my constant fidgeting and stepping out slightly to look how far we’ve got left until we’re at the front.
But queuing in London has become inevitable, as so many of the new popular restaurants have vowed not to take bookings. The horror. I know how you’re feeling.
Luckily Talli Joe, the cool new Indian food destination near Seven Dials in Covent Garden hasn’t followed suit. So, booked in straight after work, I went along with Kim for a catch-up and to try the new dinner menu.
Contemporary with an artistic feel, you could tell where the inspiration of the concept and food came from just by looking at the walls. A number of pictures portraying Indian families and culture were hung, and there was some really cool wall art too. At one point I had to stop myself from being absorbed by the pictures above the next table in fear that the group of males might think I was staring. Now that would have been awkward.
Settled into a cute table for two, dressed with a candle and some gorgeous rose gold cutlery (what is it about this colour, It’s just beautiful), Kim and I discussed all of the recommendations we’d been given, of which there were many.
The menu, an atlas which unfolds to present you with two pages of “half plates”, the tapas style dishes they’ve become well known for, was accompanied by a paper menu, which looked like mail from India, the cocktail menu.
The half plates were split into sections, which were headed with a title telling you how hungry Joe would be to eat one, at which I giggled. The selection itself offered dishes inspired by different regions all over India, including plenty of meat and vegetarian options. Although we didn’t really understand what every dish entailed (this is where google comes in. How did we ever live without it?), we ordered a selection of 5 dishes, with a side of boiled rice which isn’t on the menu but very much available, which is the same case for the breads.
At this point I should probably mention that ‘Talli’ actually means Tipsy – “a happy intoxicated state of being, rendering the legs useless” – and I soon was. The cocktail list, again inspired by all the different regions of India from Joe’s travels, featured a variety of spirits including whisky, tequila, gin and vodka, all mixed with intriguing and mysterious flavour combinations and spices. I don’t usually go for a whisky, but felt adventurous, and it paid off.
The Talli Ho, a mixture of whisky, beer syrup, orange bitters, lime and a soda top, was slightly bitter, with a not too potent whisky edge, and it was delicious – you could tell it was pretty strong too. The Holy Basil, a combination of whisky, basil leaves,grapefruit syrup, tea and a prosecco top, was refreshing and fruity too, with a slight sour edge to it from the grapefruit.
Sipping away, and discussing our airbnb finds for our upcoming trip to Madrid, among other things, the dishes started to arrive as and when they were ready – luckily, everything arrived pretty close together.
The Halwai ki Mutter Kachori, a spicy pea-stuffed bread, with butternut squash and potato curry was a firm favourite of mine, perhaps even my pick of the night. The dish arrived in a little pot, a thick doughy type of bread, with little chunks of the spiced vegetables, it was absolutely delicious. I probably would have been happy with several portions of this for my dinner.
The Devilled Quail Egg, a Crabmeat Scotch-egg, served with tadka mayo, was another highlight. The egg itself served with a soft gooey yolk (how do they do this? It blows my mind), and the surrounding crab meat shell, slightly crisp on the outside and light in flavour.
The Bohri Chicken, a chicken dish cooked in a secret spice mix from the Bohri Community and served with a fenugreek flat bread, was our only meat dish. With two chicken drumsticks, it was perfect for sharing. The Bohri sauce, thick with a nice spice, the chicken tender, and the flat bread slightly more tough than a torilla, but more flavoursome, it was a great choice.
The Kale Chaat, Talli Joe’s version of old delhi street food was beautifully presented. The crispy kale, lightly coated with what reminded me of pakora, had a delicious crunch. Served with potato, pomegranate and sweet yoghurt, it was a fab combination of flavours and textures which I never would have thought would have worked, but really did! It was another great choice.
The little portion of Dahl, as always when ordering at an Indian, was a good choice – slightly creamy and really tasty.
I don’t think I could fault any of the dishes. They were all packed with flavour and spice – just the way I like my food. Six small-ish dishes was just enough for us, and we finished completely satisfied although we obviously had space for a small dessert between us.
The Black Gajar Halwa, a mixture of heritage black carrots and salted peanut brittle, reminded me of a rather sweet, rich, carrot cake but with a sticky, mushed brownie texture. Different to anything I’d tried before, it was extremely moreish – one might not really be big enough to share!
At just over £55 for six half-plates, a dessert, two cocktails and service, it’s not too expensive, and it’s pretty central too with great service. It’s a fab spot for a catch-up with friends, date night, or even to take the family as it’s sure to impress – as long as they like spice of course (perhaps not the place for my mum and dad).
Where’s your favourite place for a catch-up?