There was I thinking – having done a quick Google search beforehand – that it would only take me 2 minutes to walk from Russell Square tube station to Millman Street in Bloomsbury. Er, wrong! More like 10 minutes, which is no biggie, but I was already running a bit late anyway (tube issues – I know, excuses, excuses), so underestimating the walk didn’t help and I hate arriving late for anything – especially for food!
The place I was rushing to get to was Salaam Namaste, which is the traditional Indian saying for ‘welcome’, and my friend and I were greeted to a very warm and friendly one on arrival. Inside it’s modern, bright with pristine white walls followed through to pristine white tablecloths.
Appetisers of chutney and poppadams were OK, nothing to write about. But the meal really began to hot up – in more ways than one – with a starter of Goan Spiced Scallops. They were perfectly cooked in a very fiery, rich, spicy sauce that struck the right balance so as not to overpower the delicate sweetness of the scallop itself. Garnishing of leaves usually bug me on certain dishes, as they often tend to add nothing good to the taste of the dish apart from making it look pretty, and sometimes not even that. But it wasn’t used just for aesthetics here, and served a purpose in lightening and lifting the flavour overall. My friend had a well-spiced and crisply fried mackerel.
My main was lamb shank in a creamy, rich sauce with curry leaf dauphinoise potato. It was so tender; fall-off the-bone, melt-in-your mouth stuff and tasted very much like a suped-up Korma. It was good, but was overshadowed somewhat by my friend’s main of Lahori Tawa Lamb Chops served in a rich garam masala sauce. Wow, it was the bee’s knees – finger lickin’ good. Had we been in the comfort of our own home those bones would have been stripped clean of meat – piranha style!
Sides of Sag Paneer and Panchmel Garden Vegetables were great accompaniments, with naan being a surprising highlight – nice nuggets of softly cooked onions were scattered on top adding a lovely, sweet note. I never usually order it, but glad we did, as here they were so good and extremely morish. The meal was washed down with a complimenting La Merisiére, Sancerre 2010.
For desserts, my friend devoured a “delicious” passionfruit cheesecake. I had a deeply mango-flavoured sorbet – a cleansing and refreshing way to end a very good meal.
Salaam Namaste serves traditional Indian classics alongside exciting, new, contemporary ones. You can tell that chef-patron, Sabbir Karim, spent a lot of time and care in designing the menu. You could probably get cheaper and similar in the curry Mecca area of East London. But if you happen to be in the Bloomsbury neighbourhood, then this restaurant is well worth checking out. Heck, even if you’re not – go!
Starters average between £4-£6, mains £13-£15 and desserts £3-4.
Food I Fancy dined as a guest.
68 Millman Street
London WC1N 3EF
Tel: 020 7405 3697