Taste Of India
24 January 2019: Taste Of India - All in good taste
Another outing with the old work boys and another trip to Euston's Drummond Street. This the 8th outing of the group saw us welcome Dan and Jamie into the mix while Jack and Wakey dropped out. The former having fallen out of love with food, the latter once again proving very flakey.
We started proceedings at the Exmouth arms. Not for the first time, the pub name threw a curveball, with Pete this time falling foul of City Mapper and ending up in the Exmouth Arms, Farringdon, thus repeating Sean's faux pas of last summer. However, it does beg the question as to where he thought we were going for curry after, but we stopped questioning Pete's competence years ago.
After a few jars outside the pub (and having to witness Spellins in a pair of rather creepy leather gloves), we headed round the corner to Drummond Street to try a Taste Of India and what would be this blog's 5th curry house on this hallowed north London Street.
We approached Taste Of India with some trepidation as reviews read beforehand weren't particularly glowing. However, the brazen orange lettering above the expansive store front certainly was. Like most of the establishments on Drummond Street, Taste of India benefits from a wide berth, but while Diwana draws the eye with green paint and flowers, Taste Of India's call to curry is less subtle. With the sign's font almost identical to the Stranger Things title we feared a diner lost in the 80s (à la Agra a short walk away) but were relieved to find more contemporary surrounds upon entry.
The interior is very open plan, with mirrored pillars adding even more light to an already brightly lit room. The extra space is quite literally a breath of fresh air and world's apart from the cramped conditions at Raavi Kebab and Shah Tandoori nearby.
Red and white cloths cover the tables and alongside the black furniture create a playing card theme. Colourful, rural scenes line the walls like those at Ravi Shankar but feel out of place as they break the three-tone scheme. Otherwise, it's a standard curry house affair, but with a bit more space and light than most and a lively atmosphere to boot. It's a generous 8/10 as a result.
Starters and sides
2 x Veg Platter
Before we'd even sat down the waiters had our order for two poppadoms each and soon after that Dan, on his first curry blog visit, swiftly got a strike against his name for karate chopping the pile of crackers. Poor form.
More on form - excellent in fact - were the poppadoms themselves. They were complemented by a trio of chutneys that lay down a solid marker for the rest of the meal. A slightly thicker raita type dip sat alongside perfect mango chutney and lime pickle. It's rare you get these three amigos so on song; a great start.
Once the poppadoms had landed the waiters spared no time in hard-selling us a mixed grill and two veggie platters. The latter, a rather dry combo of bhaji, samosa, spinach and potato patties around a pool of tamarind, yoghurt and raita was simply ok. The mixed grill was decent enough, with good flavours but equally lacking in moisture.
The breads were solid; nothing to write home about, but the keema rice was second to naan - a beautifully moist bed of slightly oil minced lamb amidst a mound of fluffy rice. Delightful.
Gosht Kara Masala
Chicken Green Bahar
For mains we had five curries. Dan once again flirted with controversy by ordering the fiery chicken naga, named after the naga chilli within that packs over a million Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The heat gave the curry an almost Caribbean jerk flavour but it was altogether too much. One mouthful had me hiccuping and Pete was in bits for a good few minutes. Luckily Wakey wasn't there - it may have been the end of him.
The other curries were far more palatable; excellent in fact. The nizami gosht, despite sounded like a video game character, was, in fact, a lovely tender lamb number, with a beautifully creamy sauce, balancing yoghurt, tomato, meat and heat perfectly. The gosht kara masala - another lamb dish - was heavier on the tomato and had a ginger and coriander edge. Coriander notes also came through in the chicken green bahar alongside ginger and cumin. And, as with all the meat curries, the chicken was beautifully tender.
The one veggie curry, the chana masala, was equally flavoursome and well-presented. It added further textures to an altogether great range of fresh, authentic and well-executed dishes.
The staff here were some of the most jovial we've come across to date. These burgundy waistcoated chaps wasted no time either taking our order and giving recommendations. They even offered some gentle ribbing to Dan about his choice of Naga, something that will always be welcomed. Service was a little slow, but we didn't mind too much.
At the end of the meal they rather cynically offered us free sambucca shots to write good Google reviews - something we shamelessly agreed to. This led to further discussion and offers to take a group photo outside the restaurant. Despite being reluctant to join us in the shot, they were generally good sports.
Value for money
With a nice venue, top food and friendly staff, the only thing needed to complete the perfect curry experience was a low bill at the end of the night. Weighing in at just over £180 it wasn't the lowest, but there were six of us. This included a substantial amount of food, two Cobras each and we were left well satisfied. It's therefore a strong VFM score of 8/10 for Taste Of India.
Having overlooked Taste Of India until now on account of relatively low reviews, it really took me by surprise in the end. The waiters told us it has just come under new management which may explain the better than expected experience.
Taste Of India won't win any style awards or have critics eulogising, but what it offers is a complete curry night experience with a good atmosphere and delicious food. As such, it was probably the best curry we've had as a group, fitting the bill for a lively meal out without the pretense of other, more modern Indian offerings.
Above average Staff and (a slightly generous) Venue score push the overall score up to an impressive 39/50. Drummond Street delivers again.
Address: 126-130 Drummond St, London NW1 2PA
Alcohol Policy: Licensed
Summary: Large open plan curry house on Euston's famous Drummon Street