Spice Is The Variety Of Life | Talli Joe, 152-154 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8HL
Shaftesbury Avenue isn’t the first place that springs to mind when it comes to going out but that’s where new kid on the block, Talli Joe, can be found. Talli translates to ‘a happy intoxicated state of being, often rendering the legs useless‘ – a state we’ve found ourselves in on the odd occasion. And Joe is ‘the everyman traveller in India, an explorer of the extraordinary in a nation where the unexpected is always just around the corner.’
This wasn’t our usual date night review meal, we were at a group event where we were talked through the spices that go into constructing their signature dishes by the infectiously enthusiastic executive chef – Sameer Taneja, previously of Benares. From spa-like aromas through to smoky scents our senses were on overdrive as we dug in to a vast array of Indian dishes.
Talli Joe‘s slogan ishalfplates and fulldrinks, personally we’d rather have full everything but hey. Cocktails are inspired from the north, east, south and west regions of India, the Amma’s Special (£8.50) with gin, cucumber, corriander, lime and sugar was dangerously tasty.
We discovered Kera Wafers (£2) – Kerala raw banana wafers with citrus salt, incredibly moorish snacks. Ade and I instantly fell in love with Chicken 21 (£6.75) – a stir-fried dish fragrant with cumin. Sameer told us it’s named so as that’s how many attempts it took them to get the taste just right – this is one of the many reasons that we’d never want to be chefs.
Talli Macchi (£8.50) – red mullet with orange soaked in Old Monk rum was punchy and incredibly boozy, we know they’re half plates but this was teeny. The star of the show was Truffle Ghee Kulcha (£3.75) – a warm a fluffy naan stuffed with cottage cheese and brushed with truffle ghee.
Oh and then there was Devilled Quail Egg (£5.50) – with crab meat and tadka majo, I’m not normally a fan of the ratio of egg to meat with scotch eggs made from quail eggs but this was a rare exception, I think I ate about three. Messy Thokku (£5) lived up to its name, a spicy egg pickle with puff roti for scooping, this was Ade’s favourite.
Desserts were absolutely delicious but quite small for the price – Berry Malai (£3.75) – baked yogurt and seasonal berries was a really lovely dish. Black Gajar Halwa (£3.75) – heritage black carrots and salted peanut brittle intrigued me from the off, god it’s good – sweet and gooey with hints of Christmas.
Talli Joe certainly passed the ‘Can Still Remember The Flavours Weeks Later Test’ which is what we always hope will happen when we visit a restaurant. You’d be astounded by the amount of places that become a fuzzy and distant memory. Let’s hope it doesn’t get lost in the chaos of Shaftesbury Avenue with potential customers aimlessly charging on by, with phones glued to their faces. Look up, London, or you might miss something.
Book a table online
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday: 12 noon – 11:30 pm
Closed on Sundays
Nearest station: Leicester Square (4 mins walk) Covent Garden (5 mins walk)
We ate as guests of Talli Joe, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.