Head Chef Ajikumar is in charge of creating quality curry dishes with a menu divided into Vegetarian, Lamb, Chicken and Seafood. Marinated meats cooked in a Tandoor, Dosa pancakes and the list of rice! – pulao, saffron, lemon, tamarind, coconut, as well as cooling Raita on the side.
Where to start? As we wanted to share a couple of starters, our waiter suggested the Fish Vada and house speciality, Mini Masala Dosa. This is a paper thin rice and lentil flour pancake, stuffed with chilli and turmeric-crushed potato, served with coconut chutney and sambara, a spicy lentil soup.
This was all served on a large platter, (see the image above), the pancake like a long cracker, waiting to be cut in half to reveal the hearty filling. Absolutely delicious, perfectly partnered with sweet and savoury accompaniments. You can also order Masala Dosa as a main course. The Fish Vada were three tasty little fishcakes with a green salad.
After great deliberation, my companion Ken selected Bagarey Baingan, a rich burgundy vegetarian stew of aubergines cooked in a peanut, sesame seed, ginger and coconut sauce. I was tempted by Aloo Gobi, a good wintery curry of potatoes and cauliflower cooked with tomatoes, creamy yogurt and spices (garlic, cumin, paprika, coriander).
We were presented with two burning hot plates, (do not touch we were warned), as the two dishes were placed on the table so that we could share both choices, as well as a large Naan bread and a bowl of coconut rice. We sipped a very reasonable Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon (under £12), and began our Indian feast. I doubt there was anything left as we cleaned our plates with the last mouthful of bread.
By 6.30pm on a Monday evening, the restaurant already had two other tables taken with a family and a couple of friends. However, the atmosphere is rather too quiet with bright wall lights rather than soft romantic candles. A CD of Fur Elise played in the background, then silence until at last the music changed to the strumming sound of the Sitar. That’s more like it!.
If as much care and attention is given to the setting and ambience as the food, this would be a 5 star, warm and welcoming Restaurant. Open for lunch and dinner, there’s also a good value pre theatre menu.
A few years ago a reviewer wrote of this restaurant “ If it were a Fringe show, Mezbaan would be a sensation, with queues around the block.” Yes indeed!.
So with this review I hope to spread the word and encourage more diners to visit. Mezbaan is warmly recommended for a fine choice of traditional, freshly prepared dishes. And do try the Mini Masala Dosa!