Food Review @East India Cafe, Cheltenham


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!

Jacks Kitchen’s top 5 pizzas

Pizzas – Jacks Kitchen’s top 5!

There is much to be said about the perfect pizza. What makes the perfect pizza?
I mean take the mother country Italy for example they have so many variations from the god father Naples Neapolitan pizza with its soupy centre and charred thick crust to Romas rectangular pizza and Sicilys fluffy spongy pizza.
Then jump back to the UK and I don’t think we are too far behind the birthplace Italy.We left London just over a year ago for Cheltenham, having spent 20 years in Islington and Brixton and 20 years eating some of the capitals best pizzas with a waist size to prove it!

1 Mama D’s Pizza – Cheltenham

May 2017 Mama D’s Pizza launched their mobile pizzeria in the Cotswolds. We’ve found a pizza gem that is worth it’s weight in crust. 
Mama D’s are based in Cheltenham. They have the funkiest branding and a banging sourdough crust on their pizzas to match. Their pizzas are stunningly good. Their dough is fermented for 60 hours, all their ingredients are shipped over from the pizza motherland and mix that up with wicked pizzaiolo skill, music and good times, they are the champions in our eyes. 

“Cotswold slice of the Neapolitan revolution”

Book them for your party or wedding!

Pizza Pilgrims – London

We met James and Tom back in 2012 at Camp Bestival, we were helping serve The Rib Man Marks ribs and his holy fuck sauce, damn I love that stuff. I remember my first bite of their Margarita. Just the right balance of chewy, soft and fluffy base with san marzano tomatoes, fior di latte cheese, basil and extra virgin. 90 second blast in their wood fired oven and their she was, a thing of beauty. It took me right back to family holidays in Italy. I literally lived and breathed pizza every year for 2 weeks. Who said being a kid sucked. Pizza Pilgrims have come a long way since their pop up in Soho and Camp Bestival, they have pizza joints all over London town including Soho, Shoreditch, Covent Garden and their new pizza playground in West India Quay which has just opened. If your in town GO!

Our fave pizza pilgrims pizza – Nduja

Firezza – London

Gone are the days that you open up your bottom kitchen drawer and pull out greasy fingered takeaway leaflets. The website has every blogger known to man sharing their weird and wonderful foodie discoveries and so that is what led me to come across Firezza pizza delivery in London. It was the middle of winter and Alex, Jack and I were no way going out. Firezza are mainly delivery (they have 1 restaurant in Soho). They rock up on their scooters with 1/2 metre pizzas on the back. They are the next best thing to being stood at Kerb or Street Feast. Sourdough bases, tangy tomato, buffalo mozzarella and so many different toppings your spoilt for choice. Get a banoffee pie too they are dirty!

Our fave firezza pizza – Buffalo Salami & Buffalo Mozzarella

Wood Fire & Smoke – Cheshire

Having a northern sole I couldn’t do a cheeky pizza blog and not mention one of my fave pizzas north of Watford gap. So who are they and where can we chow down on these neapolitan pizzas you say?
Let me introduce you to Rick the pizzaiolo behind Wood Fire & Smoke based in Cheshire. Rick makes authentic wood fired neapolitan pizzas. He proves his dough for 36 hours, uses san marzano tomatoes grown around the volcanic hills of naples and supports all his local suppliers where possible. The pizzas are as good as I’ve eaten anywhere in the capital. They are fired with heart and soul and have the obligatory leopard spot crust. Wood Fire & Smoke are fully mobile and will cater for any wedding, large party, birthday, corporate you name it or check him out at Makers Market Manchester.

Our fave wood smoke & fire pizza – Pizza Bianca with Nduja and honey

Bottle of Sauce – Cheltenham

So 10 months into leaving the capital and moving to Cheltenham and we still hadn’t eaten any pizza worth it’s crust. My problem is I have been spoilt. Spending my summers as a kid in Italy and living in London with some of the finest pizza street food, Cheltenham had nothing to offer until *music please* Bottle of Sauce opened it’s doors November 2016. Hallelujah. We were there in a heart beat and I was kinda spoilt for choice. Whilst the mrs and Jack chowed down on burgers, wings and truffled fries (equally as good!) I waited with baited breath for my pizza. I’d ordered the Margherita, I wanted pure unadulterated neapolitan heaven and it didn’t disappoint. The base was gorgeous, they prove their dough for 48 hours, you could taste it! The fior di latte had melted into each other and the tomatoes were the authentic san marzano and basil torn and thrown on. It was good. But then mix that with the whole setting – the craft ales, the open kitchen showing off their neapolitan pizza oven, the friendly staff, the graffiti style walls, the whole urban vibe to the pub just made me feel like I was having my London fix. I even spent my birthday their! They always make a fuss of Jack our little boy and even have a kids menu. We just love the place and if we are not eating in we’re taking a cheeky pizza out and apparently we can now get our pizzas delivered through deliveroo. Bellisimo!

Our fave bottle of sauce pizza – Salami get this straight