A new year requires new places to experience, a few weeks ago Daniel and I picked up our knife and fork once again in order to taste the offerings of Salaam Namaste in London’s Bloomsbury. A short walk from Russell Square station, a visit allows you to avoid the hectic crowds present in London’s most populated areas while still staying close enough to the action of central London. With the restaurant winning ’Best South Asian Restaurant’ at the Asian Curry Awards and Head Chef Sabbir Karim also holding awards, our expectations were high. Check out our full review and find out what we thought.
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Aaron: The restaurants decor was most certainly humble and not much different from some of the higher quality Asian restaurants within my local suburban area, do not take this as a criticism however as these places always make me feel rather comfortable. It was a bit of a surprise then when our food came to the table presented exquisitely on the plates, the bold presentation was certainly juxtaposed with the more refined look of the fairly small space.
Aaron: Choosing what to eat was quite difficult as the menu does not hold back on providing a vast array of treats. Eventually I decided to start with the Tandoori Ratan (minted grilled salmon, rhubarb raisin paneer tikka, cumin chicken tikka, £5.50) and two Pujabi Style Vegetable Samosa’s (£3.95) that we could share. It is quite apparent that the cuisine is a contemporary take on Asian cooking which means I can avoid making comparisons to one of my favourite restaurants Dishoom, who serve more traditional Bombay inspired dishes. The Tandoori Ratan was perfectly sized for a starter and provided good variety for a single dish, the paneer was actually my favourite part but the rest of the plate did not disappoint. While the samosas had an excellent thick pastry and dense filling, unlike some of the limp and soggy ones I have had elsewhere.
Aaron: When it came to the main, my eyes were bigger than my belly (which is rare). I had no trouble finishing the beautiful Goan Style Sea-Bass (£14.50), which came so gracefully stacked that it did not really want to knock it over. Daniel and I frequently felt a little guilty ruining the delicate presentation, only to have our stomachs take over our virtue. It was the Aloo Gobi (potatoes and cauliflower, £4.25) and Panchmel Garden Vegetables (£4.50) that defeated me, the potatoes in the Aloo Gobi and the crunchy vegetables were cooked perfectly but I just did not have it in me to finish them, plus the prospect of a dessert required me to save some space.
DJB: My starter, the Masaladar Bathaak Aloo Chaat, has me salivating in anticipation. I had been craving duck for a while so given the chance to place an order for it I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Some would say I had a duck overload because I had duck for my starter and main and if I’m completely honest I’d probably agree with them. Although my main, the Parsi Style Star Anise Duck, was very tasty I couldn’t help but compare it with the duck dish I had for starters. Hands down the starter duck dish was my champion dish of the night, so much so that I wish that I could have had it for my main instead.
Aaron: With dessert in mind from early on, I wanted to make sure I got something special. Luckily the rather distinctive sounding Indian Carrot Cake jumped out rather quickly and it ended up being my favourite of the three courses. I have said before that I have a sweet tooth and this warm little treat did the trick, do not expect anything like the work of Mr. Kipling as this is very different in a very good way.
DJB: As Aaron previously mentioned the presentation of each dish was superb and made the experience that much more exciting. I know that I eat visually just as much as I do aurally. Satisfy my eyes and you’ve already won half the battle, unfortunately when it came to the dessert the battle was well and truly lost. I didn’t enjoy my Chocolate Pudding very much. I would have liked for the chocolate sponge to be warm to compliment the accompanying ice cream. Although the dessert wasn’t the shinning moment of my night I still very much enjoyed the whole experience and happily go back for seconds.