Food Review @East India Cafe, Cheltenham

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East India Cafe Blog Write Up

‘I’m saving up for a Gucci bag’

Jacks Kitchen loves a good ruby. My better half booked a table for us so we took the monster in law for brownie points!
What a gem of a place. We feel so chuffed to have an authentic yet contemporary Indian Restaurant on our doorstep.
The chefs take original recipes from the British Raj years 1858 – 1947 when the British had rule over the Indian subcontinent. They then put their own spin on the dishes transforming them to another level. The result is good anglo Indian cooking using good quality ingredients from local suppliers. The restaurant is small but spacious, 24 covers with a cosy quirky feel. Colonial antiques, vintage art line the bricked walls and a bar made from old whiskey barrels. Whats not to like?

East India cafe is easily missed, tucked away in a basement just behind the Cheltenham promenade – but it shouldn’t be. This should be on every Cheltonians bucket list, not just because of the high rating on trip advisor or the quality of cooking but because every member of staff take the time to make you feel special.

Stepping into East India Cafe on that warm Friday night made us feel like we were on a journey; from Cheltenham to Liverpool, through the streets of India and back. Our waitress had formidable taste in recommendations and a scouse humour to match. her reason for working at East India Cafe every Friday night was simple; she was saving up for a Gucci bag! This lady added to our whole brilliant experience.

Kicking off with complimentary tasters including a small retro milk bottle filled with a chilled rose petal liquid and dragon fruit. Canapé spoon with a crunchy chickpea and potato bombay mix. The menu is easy on the eye, you can choose from 2 or 3 courses or if you have a spare 2-3 hours go for the 7 course tasting menu. At £44.95 this is a steal. The table chose starters of tuna steak, samosa chaat and lemon duck tikka. My tuna steak was more on the medium well side but crikey the smoked apple flavour, the chargrilled unami taste, the green sauce and gremolata, WOW. Fantastic starter. The mother in law equally enjoyed the chaat. My other half loved the theatre of the lemon duck hanging from the tandoori stick (is that what you call them?!) this beaut has the potential to be a 10/10 dish if recommendations were medium rare and medium well 😉 ! A cheeky lemon sorbet cleansed the palate before main courses arrived; the railway lamb curry, the seabass parcel and chandi chowk chicken curry. Pardon the pun but the mother in law pulled it out the bag choosing the seabass. Huge piece of chunky fresh seabass tucked up in a bag and steamed with pink peppercorns, lemon and herbs served with prawn and almond rice and green beans. The whole dish was nailed and i will be returning for this dish very soon!
My other half described the railway lamb curry as a banquet fit for a queen. Huge wooden board crammed with pots of succulent lamb curry which had been cooked on the bone to enhance the flavour, indian salad, popadom, bombay aloo, bhuna red lentils and paratha bread. Exceptional dish. Her only criticism was that she was miffed she couldn’t finish the dish. Portion sizes are extremely generous.
Being a glut i squeezed the Kashmiri chilli dark chocolate truffles in with chocolate ice-cream.

Verdict – Without sounding like a snob (i’m far from it!) i’ve worked and eaten in 1 and 2 michelin star restaurants for 2 decades (waist size to prove it!). The service matches that of the best i have had, without the stuffiness, the flavours in the food, the journey, the authenticity, sustaining to following the seasons, using quality local produce, i can see this gem in the future being a collector of one of those shiny little stars, just don’t be afraid to tell the customer how a piece of quality meat should be cooked, us foodies can take it!