Full of promise… | Namaaste Kitchen, 64 Parkway, Camden, London, NW1 7AH
Namaaste Kitchen has been on our radar for some time, voted Fay Maschler’s Critics Choice in ES Magazine, chef patron Sabbir Karim was the winner of the Best Chef of the Year 2012. Not forgetting Time Out who gave it a 4/5, the Telegraph seem to love it too. What could go wrong?
I headed there with a friend who had high hopes too. Namaaste Kitchen has the look of a diner/traditional ‘curry house’ hybrid. Having recently undertaken a refit, with cream and red leather banquettes, the red low-lighting and lack of music and atmosphere didn’t do it for me. The flat screen TV on the wall showing sport didn’t help matters. We started with Spicy Soft Shell Crab £5.95 which was OK, but slightly on the limp side. Followed by Coriander lime chicken tikka from the specials menu – dense balls of chicken with a Thai twang, a big hit of lime was noted. The dips that came with the Papadoms £1.50 featured a fiery green sauce that looked remarkably like mint sauce, whether this was playfully intentional, I don’t know. The tomato chutney delivered a slightly smoky kick, Anna and I both fell in love with the chutneys more than what accompanied them.
After much deliberation I finally went for the Bangli Tali Machchi £12.95 – Jamaican orange Tilapia fillet marinated in spices, with potatoes, aubergine, cherry tomatoes. The fish was perfectly cooked – flaky and light, tilapia is one of my favourites. Unfortunately the rich vegetable toppings totally swamped the dish and I felt stuffed half-way through.
Anna chose my second choice Dumpukht Biryani £13.95 – a famous recipe from Delhi, basmati rice cooked on Dum (a sealed pot) with Welsh lamb and spices, served with Bhurani raita. Her face fell when it arrived, fear washed over her when she saw the size of it. Once the dish was uncovered I think she hoped a small filling lay beneath the lid, instead a massive pile of rice was revealed. She barely touched the casing, but persevered with the deliciously unusual Date and ginger naan £2.20. The Stir-fried Okra with raw mango £3.50 was yet another heavy-going rich pile of veg, what a shame as I love both ingredients and it was so full of promise.
Cocktails were good, although as Anna said, the tide was a bit low towards the end of the evening. They seemed to be getting shorter and shorter. The thirst-quenching Indian Tea £6.50 was lovely and far too easy to drink, almost like Ribena. The refreshing Cool as a Cucumber £6.50 slipped down far too easily too.
When it came to desserts we were so full that we were bursting at the seams, I had good intentions of going for a light option, but then spotted the Mango brûlée £4.50. I find brûlées almost impossible to refuse, I wish I had though. It started out well with a good caramelised crunch, but underneath lay a very solid dessert. The dish was fairly high in depth, at the bottom the brûlée was ice-cold, I couldn’t finish it. Anna didn’t do much better, she ordered a simple Coconut Ice cream £3.50, which with their best intentions, they delivered sat atop a grilled slice of pineapple. The fruit was woody and chewy, again inedible, however the ice cream was great.
We left slightly disappointed, from all the rave reviews we really expected more. I had a better Indian meal at a very unassuming local Indian restaurant with my work colleagues the week before. It all just seems too rich and unmanageable, even though we were ravenous when we sat down to eat. Service was sweet and attentive, no qualms there. We just really expected the food to be outstanding.
Namaaste Kitchen, 64 Parkway,
Camden, London, NW1 7AH
Telephone: 020 3641 5826
Opening Hours: Mon-Thurs 11.45-3pm 5.30-11.30pm Fri-Sun 12pm-11.30pm
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Nearest tube: Camden Town