Sunday, March 09, 2008

Mooli, Tunbridge Wells

57 - 59 Calverley Road,
Tunbridge Wells TN1 2UY Map

One of our favourite restaurants when I lived near Edenbridge was the Gurkha Kitchen in Oxted. When Atul Kochhar, of Benares mentioned in an Observer interview that it was in his top five Indian restaurants in the UK, we were really pleased for them.

When I heard that they were opening a sister restaurant in Tunbridge Wells, called Mooli, it was immediately put on our list of places to visit.

We popped in on Saturday evening shortly after they opened on the off-chance that they might be able to fit us in. They said that we could have a table until 8pm, which suited us fine.

While we were perusing the menu, we were presented with spicy poppadums and pickles. Personally, I would have preferred plain poppadums as the spices detracted from the taste of the pickles, a couple of which were very good.

The menu is very similar to the Gurkha Kitchen, and I started with Dayalu, potato cakes made with lentils, spinach and fresh herbs, served with sesame pickle. They were very tasty. My wife had prawns, which she said were lovely and went extremely well with the mint puree that they were served with.

For the main course, we both chose dishes that were favourites in Oxted. I had Chayu which was mushrooms filled with lightly spiced cheese, peppers, tomatoes and onions, served on a sizzling platter. They had a sweet spicy flavour and were just as good as I remember. My wife had a lamb dish, which she said was really good. To accompany the main courses we had beans and cabbage in soy sauce, and potatoes and courgettes in a spice and herb sauce. The beans were great and went really well with the mushrooms, providing a nice counterpoint for the spicy/sweet filling of the mushrooms. The potatoes, were nothing to write home about, next time we're there I shall try something else. We also tried out the Patina Patre, an unleavened bread with mint, which made a pleasant change to a plain naan.

It took a while for the dessert to arrive, but when it did, we found out why. My wife chose a fruit platter, which was huge! It had banana, red and green grapes, apple, pineapple, orange and kiwifruit, all of which were sliced and presented nicely - the pineapple especially. This is really a dish to share.

I had heard good things about the Holy Sweet -grated carrots cooked in milk, honey and nuts and served with vanilla ice cream. I always like to try something a little different if its on the menu. The aubergine dessert I had at Tas is still something I still talk about and I have to say, Holy Sweet is probably going to be the same. It was gorgeous, tasting similar to a sticky toffee pudding. It was also nice to see little dots of real vanilla seeds in the ice cream.

The food was great and presented nicely and the service was good. An apology for the delayed dessert came without prompting and a dropped spoon was retrieved and replaced almost without me noticing.

So, what was the damage? For the food, a couple of white wines and a cobra (well you have to, don't you?) and service, it came to about sixty quid. Not bad at all and we're both keen to go back.

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