Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Trishna – London, UK

After doing some research on restaurants to check out in London (there’s only a few thousand, obviously), I kept seeing Trishna on the list. It’s an upscale-affordable, but not snooty, Indian restaurant in the Marylebone area. I had walked past it on my evening stroll a few times previous, and knew I needed to check it out.

The inside is about fifteen feet wide, with six tables on the main floor, and then an unknown number of tables upstairs (I didn’t check it out). The staff here make sure you're very well taken care of. They take – and return - your coat and call cabs for you. They make sure your wine is chilled and all of your glasses don’t run out.

The menu has a tasting menu, which I think I was outside the window of availability (only served the tasting until maybe 7 or 8pm), but all of the individual items on the menu, from starters, to mains and sides, were all well described and sounded delicious.

I decided on the Dal Chawal Achar to start with – yellow lentil and rice dumplings, yogurt, papad, and pickle. For the main course, after much deliberation, I decided on the Andhra Lamb Masala with curry leaves and coastal seasonings. I also ordered a bottle of Pinot Bianco Quercus from Goriška Brda vineyards. Not a fancy bottle by any means, but I was sure it was going to be good. (I was right, for the record...)

Even before my food came out, they brought a basket full of puffed rice crisps to the table with a mango chutney and a spicy tomato chutney. Both were really good to snack on while waiting for my order to arrive. I hadn’t intended to eat the entire basket, but I looked down and it was empty. Whoops!

The appetizer was fantastic. Even better than I expected it to be. The balls were light and fluffy and went really well with the yogurt it was perched upon. The green seasoning, like a pesto, on top of each of the balls had great flavor, as well. The pickled carrots had an unusual cross between mustard and wasabi spices to them, but they were fantastic.

The lamb masala was also mind-blowing. It fell apart when you touched it with the fork – which I know is not easy to do with lamb. These folks at Trishna are experts, however. The dish is served in a small crock, so it looks like there’s not a lot there, but it’s an illusion. There is PLENTY of meat in that crock. The seasonings and curry leaves added some top-notch flavor to the already tender meat. I loved this thing. You can order it with rice or with naan bread, and I’m glad I ordered the naan. It was two different kinds of naan in the basket. One ad black sesame seeds in it and the other was a bit garlicky – perfect. I know British people call the wrong things “biscuits”, so they don’t understand the meaning of “sopping it up with a biscuit”, but that’s absolutely what I did with the naan. The crock and my plate looked like they had just come out of the dish washer.

I wasn’t going to, but I totally caved at the end of the meal and got some kheer for dessert. It’s my favorite. If you haven’t had it before, it’s sort of a cross between rice pudding and tapioca, made with rice and condensed milk and cardamom. There’s was served in a beautiful brass pan with all kinds of seasonings on the top of it – which I’m not used to seeing. Now every kheer I get from here out will be compare to the kheer at Trishna.

At one point, I had to use the restroom (or the “loo”) and when I got back, the server had taken my not-yet-empty wine glass. The manager noticed and came over very apologetically and brought me a new (and FULL) glass of something similar. He felt bad that it had been removed and he was going to make it up to me. Which they did, when they brought out these small bite-sized brownie pieces and another full glass of dessert wine. The small desserts were pretty good, but whenever this happens, I wish D.Rough were here, since she appreciate brownies and chocolate-y dessert so much more than I do. You would have loved these, D.Rough!! I also made sure neither the server nor the bus person got into trouble for removing my glass. It wasn’t a big deal at all and I didn’t want anyone to take any heat for the simple mix-up.

I love the variety of people in this restaurant. I heard conversations in French, Italian, Russian/Ukranian, Indian, and English. It’s so good, people from every place in the world love it. I can’t say enough about the staff - they took care of everything. There was a group of French guys flirting with the 23 year old server (I overheard them asking her how old she was) and she took it like a champ. Just smiled and push them aside to wait on other tables. Well done. The manager made sure I was taken care of, well beyond the point most places would have stopped. Truly. A very good job. For an affordable restaurant, it was an upscale experience.

Indian food in the US can be really cheap (buffet-style) or a little bit fancy. I’ve never been to a really nice Indian restaurant like this before. It changed my mind on what it could be in the US. I’m a big fan of Trishna. I’ll likely round up some other people to come here on subsequent trips back to London.

Top 5 things about Trishna
1) Andhra Lamb Masala
2) Dal Chawal Achar
3) Super service
4) Menu has some really delicious sounding items, including some unusual game hens
5) Kheer

Bottom 5 things
1) Wish I had made it in time for the various tasting menus
2) I was sooooooo full after dinner, thankfully, I walked back to the hotel instead of using the tube
3) No pakora, which I was hoping for (everything else made up for it, though, I promise)
4) It’s a little pricey, but I think the cost is justified by the experience in this case
5) I’m ruined for Indian food at every other place now that I’ve had the best here at Trishna

15-17 Blandford Street
Marylebone Village
London W1U 3DG

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