Author: MS

Nazmins

Nazmins is on Garratt Lane, a stones throw from Earlsfield Station. It’s our nearest Indian restaurant and when we first moved here it quickly became our favourite. In recent years though the food has deteriorated, the restaurant was reduced in size, and they stopped having an alcohol license. All of this led us to look for a new favourite curry house, of which there are plenty in Tooting.

However, having not tried Nazmins for at least 2 years, we thought it would only be fair to give them another go and we are really pleased that we did. We had a table for 4 on Saturday evening at 7.30pm, and our initial impressions of the decor and ambience was good, it was warm and inviting.

We were seated at a table near the front and ordered some papadums and a pickle tray to munch on whilst we looked at the menu.

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The pickle tray included an onion salad, mango chutney and raita. All were lovely and came in a generous sized portion for us to share.

 

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Between us we ordered a mixed starter, onion bhajis and a king prawn butterfly. For our mains we went for a chicken dansak, a chicken tikka masala, a chicken dopiaza and a chicken madras (lots of chicken, we know!). We also chose a garlic naan bread, a peshwari naan, a mushroom rice and a pilau rice.

The starters arrived and looked and smelt delicious. The onion bhajis were a very generous size and came with a raita dip alongside them. They were cooked to perfection; nice and soft in the middle and crunchy on the outside with a good amount of flavour and seasoning. The mixed starter, with its chicken and lamb tikka, was also good.

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The prawn was interesting. I think we were expecting 2 or 3 prawns. Instead we were served one very impressively sized prawn that had been butterflied and then battered. It was nicely cooked and tasted great too.

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At this point , we were wondering why it had taken us so long to come back here so were keen to see how the mains fared.

We were not disappointed. The mains were all really tasty and it was pleasing to see that the ratio of meat/veg to sauce was very good. All in all, our chicken dishes were very tasty, and they were thoroughly enjoyed. The chicken dansak was a lovely combination of hot, sweet and sour and the chicken was moist and tender. It was absolutely delicious. The chicken dopiaza, with its tomatoes and onions and mild heat was lovely.

The dopiaza at the top of the pic, the dansak at the bottom.

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The chicken tikka masala was just as you’d expect; good colour, lovely flavour, and it went brilliantly with the very coconutty peshwari naan.

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Finally the madras, with its thick sauce and a lovely kick of heat to it, went down very nicely indeed.

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By the end of the meal we were all very happy with what we had eaten and were left wondering why we had taken so long to give Nazmins another try. Since our last visit the food has improved massively and we really enjoyed the atmosphere in the restaurant. Seeing as Nazmins is so close to us, we are really excited that they are back on form.

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Rosa’s Thai Cafe

When Belpassi Bros closed in Tooting we were a little disappointed, so when we saw the signs promising that a new eatery was taking over the site, we were really pleased. Rosa’s Thai Cafe have numerous other branches across London including Brixton. Being reasonably new converts to Thai food we were really looking forward to seeing what was on offer.
We booked a table for 7pm and when we arrived, we could see that the layout has remained almost the same as when Belpassi Bros were here. There are several tables in the front area of the restaurant with a bar preparation area. Towards the back is the open kitchen and a larger communal or group table is behind that. The place has been given a lick of paint and it has a cosy and modern feel to it. We were seated at our table and left to explore the menu.

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We selected a range of starters to get us going which included, spring rolls, chicken wings, prawns and prawn crackers. To wash it down we chose a beer and a gin based cocktail.

The starters all arrived on really nice green crockery. The prawn crackers, with good flavour and a nice crunch, were accompanied by a satay dip which was a nice change from the sweet chilli sauce that everything else came with.

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The prawns were tasty, with a good crispy batter and were well cooked. The spring rolls were hot and not too greasy, with a decent amount of filling. The chicken wings were a let down though. They had a strange texture and lacked any meat on them. Whilst the little meat that was there came away from the bones easily, they didn’t really have any flavour which was disappointing. As we said, all of these came with a sweet chilli dip. We felt that some variation to this would have been good; perhaps a soy based one, for example.

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For our main courses we had decided on a pad Thai and a Rosa’s specialty butternut squash red curry with a portion of sticky rice to go alongside it. Again, the dishes were served on very nice crockery making them look appealing and they smelt good too.

The butternut curry had flavour and a nice amount of heat to it. However, it lacked any substance. The chunks of butternut were few and far between and slightly firmer than I would have liked. The sauce was tasty but it quickly became like eating a bowl of soup. This dish was priced at £10.50, without the rice, so it felt like a very expensive bowl of soup to be honest

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Sadly, the pad Thai was also lacking. Now I’m far from an expert on Thai food, in fact this is only the 2nd pad Thai that I’ve had, so I can only compare it to the other one which was at Kaosarn. This one lacked any real flavour and was quite bland in comparison. No sweet or sourness from the tamarind, I couldn’t taste any egg, even the crushed peanut lacked in flavour. Disappointing.

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Every time we’ve been past Rosa’s they seem to be busy, which is good to see. For us though, the meal didn’t quite hit the mark. We left with full tummies but an emptier wallet than we would have liked.

Daddy Bao

We have been eagerly awaiting the opening of Daddy Bao on Mitcham Road in Tooting for a few months so we felt pretty smug about being able to bag a table for their soft launch this weekend. The only time we’ve tried bao buns is at Tootopia earlier this year so we were really keen to find out what all the fuss was about.

We were greeted warmly at the door and instantly embraced by the warm and inviting atmosphere created by the décor and red lanterns hanging from the ceiling. We chose to sit at the bar area, which was next to the kitchen, on high stools. We were given an order pad which was a clever way of presenting the menu. Basically, we just had to decide which dishes we wanted and write how many we wanted in the boxes next to the descriptions.

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Everything sounded delicious so, after some deliberation, we opted for some snow peas, chicken poppers and sweet potato chips from the share section of the menu and a Mr Bao, Pork Belly bun, a beef brisket bao, and a drunken prawn bao. To drink we chose a gin xuan tonic and some sake.

We didn’t have to wait long for the food to start arriving and once it did, it came pretty much all together.  It’s going to be hard to find enough superlatives to describe the food so, just to be clear, we loved it.

The snow peas, although a simple idea, were served in a soy glaze with sliced ginger on top. They had been cooked perfectly and tasted really good. We hoovered them up.

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The sweet potato chips came with a wasabi mayonnaise and had been cooked in a light batter. Again, these were perfectly cooked and the mayo had a nice amount of heat to it which complimented the sweetness of the chips themselves.

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The chicken poppers were soft and sweet, having bags of flavour and provided just the perfect mouthful.

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Now, as mentioned before, the only time we’ve had bao buns before was at Tootopia and whilst they tasted good, the buns were good but perhaps a little cloying in their texture. Not so at Daddy Bao. The buns were like light pillows that didn’t stick around your teeth at all. The fillings in all of them had lots of flavour and a good mixture of textures with spring onions, red cabbage pickles, peanuts and pickled mooli.

Pork belly:

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Prawn on the left, and brisket on the right:

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We were hooked! So much so that we decided to go for it and order some more (we know this is greedy but we just couldn’t resist). So, we ordered a three cups chicken bao and a shiitake mushroom bao and some fried chicken.  Whilst we waited we also ordered a negroni. It tasted great but a couple of those would be pretty dangerous!

The fried chicken arrived and, like everything else we had eaten, it tasted fantastic. The chicken was lovely and tender, with the coating nice and crunchy, and the dip had a perfect amount of heat to it.

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The final 2 bao buns were also a triumph. The three cup chicken, which was slow braised and served with pickled red cabbage, spring onions, coriander, and a honey sauce was delicious; a real mix of flavours that worked well together, and the mushroom bao was equally fantastic.

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When our bill came it was just over £60, which we were more than happy to pay for all that food and drink. However, as it was a soft launch, they corrected the bill and took 50% off the food taking it down to just over £40! Considering the amount of food we had eaten, how good everything had tasted, the great service and drinks, we felt like we had had a real bargain.

All in all, we really hope that Daddy Bao is a huge success. We are already dreaming about our next visit and just hope that next time we head that way, we can get a table.

 

 

Plot

The last time we visited Plot was about a week after they opened, almost a year ago. At the time, we could see that there was real potential but they were still ironing out a few teething problems. Every time we have been to Broadway Market in the evening, we have seen how busy Plot can get so it seemed the perfect time for a revisit.

We had seats at the counter which is helpfully equipped with hooks to hang your bag on. The menu offers 8 dishes plus 2 dessert options. We’ve walked past a few times recently and looked at the menu and it seems to change quite frequently.

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We chose a glass of wine each and placed our order for the food whilst munching on a slice of lovely bread with a cardamom butter. Last time we came we had some delicious marmite butter and this one was just as good. To eat, we chose the leek and cheese tart and the haggis scotch egg to get us going, followed by the Wiltshire ricotta gnudi, and the roast cod.

The first dish served was the leek and cheese tart and this was served with mustard leaves. The filling was soft, light and mousse-like, and the pastry was thin and nicely short. It was packed full of flavour.

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Next up was the haggis scotch egg (only half shown in the pic below). This was served cut in half making it easy to see the perfectly runny yolk and the haggis meat surrounding it. It smelt great so we had already tucked in before we remembered to take a picture! This was full of meaty flavour and was served with a  celeriac slaw which cut through the richness of the egg perfectly.

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When we ordered the Wiltshire ricotta gnudi, we weren’t really sure what to expect. Gnudi are gnocchi like dumplings made with semolina instead of potato. This was a bowl of pillowy, cheesy goodness. They were served topped with pesto which provided a good contrast to the other rich and creamy flavours in the dish. The only thing I’d say here was that the temperature of the dish was inconsistent. The outside of the dish was hot but in the middle it became lukewarm. This didn’t detract from the flavour of the dish but did make me wonder what temperature is was supposed to be.

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The last dish was the roast cod served with chick peas and chorizo. The piece of cod was thick and cooked perfectly, flaking apart into lovely chunks of meat. The only thing we weren’t sure about were the chickpeas as an accompaniment. Unless they’ve been whizzed up into hummus, they tend to taste a bit like cardboard. Even though these had been cooked in a sauce which I think was tomato and chorizo based, they still had that flavour which didn’t really compliment the lovely piece of cod.

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When we sat down we were both hungry but, by the end, we were too full for dessert. That didn’t stop us getting food envy as the chocolate ganache was being served to those sat near us. It looked incredible and we still had good memories of the dessert here last time, which had been fantastic.

Just like last time, the service was also very friendly and we weren’t waiting long between dishes. All in all, the food at Plot is really nice. It looks good, smells good and tastes good, so we’ll be back again.

The Sea Garden & Grill

Having seen pictures of delicious looking cocktails and tasty food on Twitter and Instagram, we knew we had to try The Sea Garden and Grill in Broadway Market for ourselves. We booked seats at the counter so that we could get a good view of the kitchen and headed there on a Friday evening.

The unit looks fantastic. It is modern and the décor and lighting makes it easy to forget you are in a market. As well as the counter seats, they also had 4 longer tables with space for about 30 diners in total.

We were greeted warmly and shown the menu. The drinks menu included 4 cocktails, gins, wine and beer. We chose a cocktail each to start us off and this proved to be a great decision. Food wise, we were spoilt for choice as everything sounded so appealing.

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To get us started, we had some warm sourdough bread and olive oil, which was lovely. We then chose the special of scallops with a celeriac puree, a dish called Textures of Jerusalem, the crab risotto, and the battered fish along with some triple cooked chips.

The first thing to say if how beautifully everything was presented. The dishes looked, and tasted, like some we have eaten in Michelin starred restaurants.

The scallops, though small, we cooked with a lovely caramelisation and the celeriac puree complimented it well, providing just the right contrast between savoury and sweet.

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The textures of Jerusalem (artichoke) was another triumph. It came with pickled mushrooms and sweet potato crisps which meant it was a good selection of flavours and textures which all complimented each other to make a really good plate of food.

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The crab risotto was creamy and full of flavour, with the rice being perfectly al dente. I could have done with a little more crab meat on top, it was very tasty.

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Finally the fish and chips, which was sprinkled with malt vinegar powder. The chips were crispy and the vinegar powder kept them that way. The fish had a nice thick and crispy batter whilst the flesh of the fish itself was succulent and flaky.

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Every mouthful was delicious and we really enjoyed everything we tried. We had a glass of wine each with the food and the bill came to £63. This felt like really good value for money for food which was this good.

 

Sitting there, warmed by the newly installed heaters in the market roof, it was easy to forget it was a dreary, cold January evening outside and that we were sitting in a market. The food here was fantastic and we really can’t wait to visit again.

 

 

 

Dastaan – Ewell

In a small, unassuming parade of businesses on the Kingston Road sits a gem of an Indian restaurant called Dastaan.  Now we are quite spoilt for Indian cuisine in Tooting, there are some fantastic places to eat, but having read some rave reviews online we decided to venture out of Tooting and see what all the fuss was about at Dastaan. We tried to book a table a couple of months ago and weren’t successful, so we felt pretty lucky to have been able to get in for the 18.15 sitting last Saturday.

When we arrived, we were shown to a table near the front, and a very friendly waitress talked us through the menu. This included a reasonably sized list of starters. The first half was described as being street food and all were said to be served in a way making them perfect for sharing.

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We ordered a poppadum basket and pickle tray, some vegetable bhajiyas, the red pepper tiger prawns, and the black pepper stone bass to get us going.

The poppadums were served in large size pieces in a basket with a selection of 3 pickles. These were delicious. The mango chutney was rich and not too sweet. The green chutney had a surprising but pleasant heat and the lime pickle, although never really ever a favourite of ours, was tasty and it made the mouth tingle.

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The prawns were nothing short of gorgeous. They were plump and perfectly cooked with just the right amount of heat and charred notes to finish. We could have eaten several platefuls of these.

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The veg bhajiyas were lovely and crispy on the outside and soft and well-cooked on the inside.

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Finally, the stone bass. This was well flavoured and cooked perfectly, coming apart in lovelyl flakes of meat.

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The starters were a real hit so we were really looking forward to the mains.

 

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For our mains we’d chosen a chicken chettinad, described as chicken, curry leaves, star anise and fresh coconut, and a lamb rogan josh, described as lamb, Kashmiri chilli and garam masala. Under advice, we ordered a pulao rice to share, a butter naan and some wild mustard potatoes on the side.

The food arrived nice and hot and smelt delicious. It tasted just as good. The chicken was beautifully tender and the accompanying sauce was rich and full of flavour. It wasn’t as thick as you might expect with a curry, the consistency was more of a thick gravy.

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The naan was soft and pillowy and was as nice as we’ve had anywhere. The surprise here were the mustard potatoes. They were cooked to perfection and were a lovely accompaniment to the main dishes. I’d eat more of these on their own! The rogan josh had generous chunks of meaty lamb that fell apart, and the sauce was aromatic and had a good hit of spice to it.

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In the spirit of writing a full review, we felt it only fair to sample a dessert and we selected a pistachio kulfi. This was a cross between an ice cream and a mousse and was fantastic. It was just the right balance of sweetness, and a beautiful creamy texture. The perfect way to end the meal.

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The service all evening was excellent, friendly, efficient and informative. We really enjoyed everything we ate and having looked at the menu, will have to pay another visit as there are many things we’d like to try.

It is well worth the effort to travel over to Ewell to eat here…if you can get a table.

 

Unwined & Marlon’s Kitchen

The start of a new year means a new menu at Unwined in Tooting Market, with Marlon’s kitchen in residence and a ‘Bit on the Side’ wine theme to match.  Marlon’s kitchen serve a Colombian themed menu with some unusual and adventurous ingredients so we were really interested to try the dishes on offer.

It was chilly on Saturday night but many of the market stalls now have patio heaters to take off the chill, and there is also a supply of cosy fleece blankets to wrap yourselves up in. The combination of these things, and some delicious wine and food, made for a great start to 2018.

The menu includes 4 nibble options, 3 starters, 3 mains and a dessert or cheese board. Each part of the menu is matched with wine and, as usual at Unwined, these are unique and unusual in both their origin and flavour.

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We are recent converts to olives, so we decided to start with some Gordal olives, and also some Patacones (fried plantain slices) with Hogao and Suero. We had done a little research before arriving so had an idea of what the dishes were. Patacones are fried green slices, something neither of us had tried before. The Hogao is a creole sauce which varies from place to place, but is usually made with tomatoes, onions and garlic, and then a selection of seasonings to add more flavour. Suero is a fermented milk, not dissimilar to sour cream. The olives were plump and full of flavour, I would definitely look for these again. We were served 4 sweet and 4 salt patacones and they were simply delicious and incredibly moreish. They went really well with the hogao and suero, and we hoovered them up quickly.

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The wine we had chosen was a white called ‘Pas D’histories’ which was a blend of Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier from Languedoc. It was a lovely blend of tropical flavours which was so good, I ended up having 2 glasses (no dry January here). We also had a glass of Soli Pinot Noir from Edoardo Miroglio, Bulgaria. A light and bright red-fruity pinot which is such good value for money.

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From the starters we chose the Arepa de Huervo, which was a cross between a pastry and a bread, served with a soft egg with small cubes of beetroot and carrot. It was deliciously light and fresh and went really well with the Pas D’histories wine.

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We also took the plunge and went for the pigs tongue, something we’ve not eaten before and were a little nervous about. Cooked with a selection of herbs and then finely cubed, it was served with a tamerillo chutney, and some air bread, which are like crispy hollow bread sticks. I will describe the pigs tongue as being similar to a coarse pate with a nice meaty flavour, and the tamerillo chutney had a fruity sweetness to it. I’d happily eat this again. The glass of  Bullet Dodger from the Delinquente Wine Co in Australia went very nicely with this. Made from Montepuliciano grapes that you’d normally associate with Italy, it had lovely flavours of bramble fruit, cherry and figs.

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For our main dishes we chose octopus which was served with cauliflower, potatoes and garlic mousseline, and the zebu hump with cassava galette. This was a tender cut of beef with a rich and flavoursome sauce, served alongside a potato dauphinoise. The flavours here were lovely. My only thought would be that there wasn’t quite enough sauce so the potatoes were a little dry.

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The octopus was cooked perfectly, soft and tender. It was a great combination with the potatoes and cauliflower, and the garlic sauce.

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The wines we chose here were a chardonnay by Patrick Sulivan called Samurai and Tinta Tinto syrah from Chile. I usually avoid chardonnay as I don’t really enjoy the sometimes overly oakyness that they can have, but this one was unoaked and was lovely. It had real depth of flavour and you could really taste the unobstructed fruit flavours of the chardonnay grape. The Tinta Tinto was packed with lovely rich dark fruit especially blackcurrant, and a hint of spice at the end. Really nice.

Usually we opt for a shared cheese board but the dessert promised a range of refreshing and yummy flavours which were just too tempting  to turn down. It was a guava mousse, coconut sponge, passion fruit gel with a coffee jelly. It was so good. The flavours worked brilliantly together and it was a the perfect ending to the meal as it was light, tropical and refreshing.

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To end the evening we decided to have one more glass of wine. A dessert wine called La Beryl Blanc from South Africa. I do like sweet wine but this one was really good. It was rich and sweet without being too cloying. It would have gone perfectly with the dessert.

 

Marlon’s Kitchen are going to be at Unwined for the next 6 weeks or so, and we’d certainly recommend you give it a try.