You can’t beat a good neighbourhood eatery and Thali restaurant is one of the best that I’ve been to recently. Located in the chic Gloucester Road area of London, it specializes in contemporary North Indian cuisine.
The decor makes a welcome contrast to the traditional red and gold style, with a funky bicycle adorning the bare brick walls.
Downstairs there’s a private dining room and some very cool food and wine related quotations.
The knowledgeable sommelier talked us through the wine selection and we opted for a refreshing glass of Tariquet Sauvignon Blanc Cotes de Gascogne 2014. It had a fresh taste with some lovely floral notes.
We were brought some very moreish poppadoms with a chutney sauce to start, and two breads that we had chosen to accompany our meal. Garlic naan is one of my guilty pleasures and this one did not disappoint. Neither did the kulchi, crispy puffy leavened bread with cheese – both breads were light and fluffy.
We shared a few appetizers to start – a succulent palak chaat with spinach, sweetened yoghurt, chutney and tomato. It was bursting with flavour and one of the best that I’ve tasted. Head Chef Dila Ram worked for the prestigious Taj Group and Bombay Brasserie before bringing his expertise to Thali.
The grilled lamb chops with masala spices, green cardamom, cloves, lime and yoghurt were so tender that they virtually fell off the bone and were perfectly seasoned.
We really enjoyed the grilled scallops with light spices and a cherry tomato cream sauce.
Malai chicken tikka made an interesting change from the usual tikka masala, drowning in a rich sauce. Here, only a minimal amount of cream has been skilfully combined with ginger, garlic and cheese in a much lighter and dare I say healthier way.
For our main courses, we both opted for a thali. A thali is a round platter used to serve 6 different dishes. They generally include all 6 flavours of bitter, sweet, astringent, salty, sour and spicy. The little bowls that the dishes are presented in are called katori. Paul went for the non-veg (i.e. meat!) thali and I tried the seafood one. We both loved the presentation of our thali and the great variety of dishes – it really felt like a feast! Whilst I enjoyed my thali and the crispy salmon in particular, I preferred the meat one as I felt that the spiciness of the seafood dominated the quality ingredients somewhat. Having said that, all the fish was superbly cooked and the kitchen will adapt to your preferred level of spiciness if you specify it beforehand. It’s also nice to see a restaurant that doesn’t dumb down its cuisine to suit British taste buds.
For dessert, we both had a gulab jamun included in our thali. It’s a tasty milk dough dumpling, served hot in sweet syrup – this was new to me but I’d definitely have it again.
We had a truly relaxing evening at Thali and I’d definitely recommend it, whether you happen to like Indian food or are looking for a good restaurant near Gloucester Road.
Do you have a favourite Indian dish? Which food quote do you prefer?
Thali, 166 Old Brompton Road, London SW5 0BA