Trishna has had the critics slavering. Those who have been to the original Mumbai restaurant lacquered praise on it before endorsing its new London outpost those who haven't been seem pepped up by the idea of a refined seafood Indian of such great provenance gracing the streets of our capital. Launched in October and headed up by London founder Karam Sethi and head chef Ravi Deulkar, formerly head chef at Rasoi Vineet Bhatia for seven years, the restaurant draws inspiration from the Ratnagiri region of India.
Deulkar spent the preceding year touring India to gain inspiration for the restaurant and the key, he learnt, is in the detail. "My relatives out there taught me the real authenticity," he says. "Tips such as to churn the spices daily, not just store them away, make all the difference." The result is a light, south-west Indian sharing concept, filled with spices and cashews, lime and coconut and utilising traditional cooking equipment like the iron tawa griddle.
The room - comprising two narrow rooms - is painted in subtle pastels and there's little to differentiate it from the ubiquitous naughties dining room none of the white tablecloths or plastic flowers of its Mumbai counterpart.
The menu's sharing concept divides it into five parts - two smaller starters, a main course, a vegetable side and dessert. The first course is from the pakora section of the menu and includes dishes such as squid with spiced rice flour, lime zest and chilli (£7) and Isle of Wight plaice, fried with coastal spices and served with crushed pea and mint (£11.50), a sort of cross between the Indian habit of frying fish in spice and eating it with green chutney and traditional British fish and mushy peas. The sharing, eat-with-your-hands concept is at its finest here, with the squid dish naturally lending itself to multiple diners and the fish arriving in two pieces.
The next course comes courtesy of the charcoal grill, with dishes including ginger and Kashmiri chilli marinade with mustard mooli (£11.75) and tandoor-roasted Hyderabadi fish tikka in black pepper marinade (£8). The seafood focus of the menu means that it shifts according to what's available. Fish supplier Richard Murray works hard to ensure Deulkar has fish at their lowest price.
A good example of this is the market fish curry cooked in a coastal spice and coconut masala (£12.50), which was previously sea bass when the fish was £5.50 per kg. Now it has shot up to £9.50 per kg Deulkar has swapped to cod.
Some of the dishes are borrowed from the Mumbai Trishna, including its incredibly popular brown crab (Cornish, in this case) with butter, pepper and garlic (£17.50), which is exactly as it sounds: a big pile of buttery, spicey crab meat in its shell.
A nice touch is beer-pairing recommendations with many of the dishes, including Innis & Gunn Ale (£4.20) and Negro Modelo (£4.20), a Mexican dark beer. There are also all the usual trappings of an Indian restaurant: basmati rice, naan breads and refined vegetable sides such as smoked mashed turnip with peas (£6) or tandoor-roasted broccoli marinated in roasted spices (£6.50).
The dessert menu is short but showcases an imaginative selection of ice-creams - toffee, peanut, cinnamon, pistachio, to name just four - served in miniature cones (£5.50 for three) as well as a rice pudding with mango coulis and chilli oil (£5.50), labelled "pudding of the year" by Sunday Times critic AA Gill.
Trishna's strengths are in the sharing, informal vibe that runs through the meal the lighter cooking techniques employed by the kitchen and an emphasis on the seafood rather than stodgy sides, preventing the bloated feeling some Indian restaurants can give.
Despite the popularity of the site, it is still magnanimous with its lunch menus and deals, with three/four courses lunch or pre-theatre priced at £19.50/£21.50 and an online offer of three courses, bread and a 250ml carafe of wine available every service bar Saturday evening.
The restaurant is doing 70 covers most nights, with average spend around £40-£50. And that, in the present financial climate, will have the whole team not just slavering but positively cock-a-hoop.
15-17 Blandford Street, Marylebone Village, London W1U 3DG.
Tel: 020 7935 5624www.trishnalondon.com
ALSO ON THE MENU
Mixed vegetable pakora, sweet corn, coriander leaf and onion, tamarind chutney, £5.50
Koliwada shrimp, carom seed and coriander stem crusted, sweet red chilli chutney, £9.50
Charcoal grill dishes
Wild tiger prawns with mustard spice paste, cooked on the sigri, £12.50
Slowly roasted aubergine with tamarind, peanut, tomato and red chilli masala, £6
Trishna London dishes
- Isle of Shuna mussels, simmered in a coconut and turmeric masala, £10
- Whole baby chicken, curry leaf and roasted white lentil marinade, £12.50
- Hyderabadi dal, masoor and toor lentils tempered with round red chillies, shallots and garlic, £6
- Baby potatoes, roasted rice, red chilli and caramelised onion masala, £6