Sometimes you go to a restaurant and you enjoy the food. You then spend time thinking about the food you had and then go off and try somewhere else but sometimes you go to a place and you have the best food you have eaten for so long that you dream about that food and every day you just keep telling yourself that you can't wait to go back. Desi Cafe is that kind of place.
I went and visited on a Tuesday evening and at first, it was very quiet but by 7pm the venue was full. The interiors are well balanced with foliage and wonderful old pictures of India. The colours of the interior are calming with green and grey mixed with white and black. There are booths to sit at which are cosy and then there are marble tables with seating which is set out so it doesn't feel cluttered at all. I found myself wanting to scour the entire room to look at features on the wall and yet it has a relaxing feel where you could sit all day drinking tea and chatting with family or friends.
Desi Cafe is the place that appreciates old India and how life used to be in the good old days. A place where you did just sit and enjoy the food that had been slow-cooked and engulf the spices but appreciate good old-fashioned Indian cooking. In Desi cafe's own words they say “DESI is an old India cafe that harks back to the cafes of old India, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the way they did back home. From India, with love. We pay homage to the cafes of old – reigniting the hustle & bustle of their faded elegance. True love, Rediscovered."
As soon as I sat down to eat I realised how thirsty I was and so ordered a Rose Lemonade which was refreshing. I then looked at the small plates menu. The food is so different from other Indian places I have been to that I decided to try the Paneer and Pineapple Tikka which is marinated overnight and is a wonderful dish. The mixture of flavours really gives the sensation of how the rest of the meal will be…. delicious.
Looking at the menu again I shared a House Chaat with my friend which I have never tried before. Sitting on a round plate was 4 vegetable samosa's on a bed of spiced chana, with a wonderful yogurt dressing then a drizzling of tamarind with mint and coriander chutney, topped off with pomegranate and spicy potato sprinkles. Having never eaten this before I was blown away with this dish. I just love all those flavours that sit together nicely.
Next up was an Indian staple we all love the 'Onion Bhajia' served with the house Desi slaw and had Tzatziki Raita and Mint and Coriander Chutney on the side which does have a bit of heat.
We then moved on to the main dishes which offered some amazing mouthwatering homestyle cooking at its best. Konkani Chicken was my favourite as it felt like there were so many spices in there that have been gently cooked that for me was the main dish winner, I kept going back to try more even when my tummy said no!
I also tried Malabari Vegan which was also very tasty. I don't normally eat red meat but I did try the Lahori Lamb which had a dry texture but full of flavour and spices at the same time. To accompany our dishes we had the Gunpowder Potatoes which are roasted new potatoes to perfection with spices and salt added, I highly recommend these! We also had the Bombay Bread which was like the poshest naan bread I have ever eaten. It was lengthways but very tasty and great for mopping up those sauces!
While eating my main course I really wanted to try one of the Desi shakes and so ordered the Rose and Cardamom Lassi which I fell in love with. You can really taste the rose and it lifts your palete when you have been eating quite a few spices. Being a traditional yogurt-based drink could be a problem if you are vegan but I loved it for the cooling effect it had and helped me to enjoy my main dishes even more!
My overall experience of Desi Cafe is that the food really is amazing. So much thought has been put into the dishes, the cooking, the interiors. If you are the kind of person that wants a Ruby Murray with a pint at the end of a night out then this isn't your kind of Indian. If you want to go and eat food that has been perfectly cooked to bring the best spices to the core, sat around lovely surroundings, and have a soft drink then this is the place to go. Real foodies will love this place as the food is consistently good whether that be as a takeaway or eating inside and I have tried both first hand. I think that is the cafe's purpose to deliver consistently great food every time so that you will always want to go back. The service was very good, where staff wanted to know your thoughts and really were interested if you thought something needed to change.
Payday can't come around quick enough in this house. I can't wait to go back and as this sits on Elm Grove I don't have far to walk. Yay!
Go visit the website for a look at the menu, and go pay them a visit for a real authentic Indian experience.