Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Imli, London

Imli Restaurant
167-169 Wardour Street, Soho, London, W1F 8WR
Tel: 020 7287 4243

When I was younger (much younger) one of my old stomping grounds was the Marquee Club in Wardour Street. It closed down many years ago, but it was still nice to find myself nearby at Imli's.

Imli serves what it describes as Indian food, Tapas style. This, I am led to believe is very similar to the street food you would find in India, but given a modern and stylish makeover.

The restaurant itself is very neat and tidy, airy and very clean.

Once shown to our table we were given a menu and told that the food is designed to be shared and that a selection of three or four dishes each would be about right for the average appetite.

First off, we chose Mushroom Tikki and Spiced Potato Cakes from the Light and Refreshing part of the menu. The mushroom tikki looked like three breaded mushrooms on the plate, but once they were cut into it was apparent that they were made of a mix of finely chopped mushroom, ginger and coconut that were then shaped to appear as mushrooms. These were served with a tomato garlic sauce. They were quite spicy and very nice. The potato cakes were made with ginger and chilli and were very spicy.

Next we ordered from the New Traditions section of the menu. I had Vegetable Brochette which was skewers of grilled panir cheese, courgettes, peppers and onion served on a spicy mushroom risotto. It was very nice, but the rice was exceptionally tasty.

For those of a non-veggie persuasion that read this, my friend had the Seafood Platter, consisting of peppered squid, fish cake with lime leaf and sesame garlic prawns, all of which were pronounced very good but I distinctly remember an extra pronouncement for the squid.

The next part of the menu is the Signature Dishes section. Once again my friend and I diverged paths and he ordered Keema Mushroom which consisted of slow cooked minced lamb and mushrooms served in two rather sizable puff pastry squares, while I had the Aubergine Masala which was diced aubergines sautéed with fresh curry leaves and tomatoes served with rice. It was lovely, beautifully tender and spiced to perfection.

As accompanments we ordered parathas and cumin mash. If you go to Imli, you must have the cumin mash, it is divine, and at only £1 a portion, a bargain too!

And so to dessert. Between us, we decided that there were three deserts that sounded nice. So we concluded that we'd keep to the Imli tradition of sharing and ordered all three! The Carrot Fudge was made up of shredded carrots, melon seeds and raisins reduced in sweetened condensed milk. I couldn't decide whether I liked this or not, and still can't. However, I had to keep going back and trying another mouthful just to be sure. It's certainly different, that's for sure. The Indian Caramel Custard is a coconut milk and jaggery crème caramel and was very nice. However our last choice, the Mango and Basil Sorbet, was gorgeous and the perfect dish to end the night on.

By the time we left at around 8.15pm, there were people queueing for tables. Imli is very popular and, judging by my experience here, justifiably so. If you go there, don't forget to try the cumin mash.

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