The latest in the small chain of stylish Indie restaurants, this Indian tapas style restaurant has taken the former Venu Brasserie premises by storm.
Situated unpromisingly in a basement off South Anne Street, with subtle signage, it’s almost invisible from the street and reception is at the bottom of a winding staircase, two levels down - an impressive entrance to a very stylish room. With a flash cocktail bar, open kitchen with an enviable line-up of kit like tandoors and grills, and stylish, funky décor it’s emphatically modern Indian.
Dimly lit, with wooden lattice screens breaking the large room up into three separate areas, large colourful photographs cover much of the walls and two chef’s tables close to the pass allow a bird’s eye view of the action.
Of the very interesting mix of dishes offered, all are Indian style with some familiar classics, but also quite a few unusual and inventive dishes. Prices are reasonable, ranging from about €2.50 to €17.95, the idea being that you can order a lot of small plates, or take the three course meal route.
Friendly and well informed staff helpfully explain the extensive menus but it’s hard for first time diners to judge the size of the dishes and the “tapas” concept is not consistently carried through (diners are encouraged to share small plates at the start of the meal and then move on to full sized mains), so beware - it’s easy to over-order. We recommend starting small and ordering additional dishes later if you’re still hungry.
Dishes range from Indian classics, such as tandoor-grilled meats and curries, to quite inventive, even challenging, offerings involving unfamiliar ingredients. Recommended dishes include a tapas/starter of okra, which is not always an appealing vegetable but here it’s served as crispy, deep fried okra (about €5.50) spiced with carom seeds, turmeric, red chilli and dried raw-mango powder, and makes a very tasty snack. Another winner is mussels and clams in a spicy tomato, coconut and tamarind broth (about €11.95); the broth, with its delicate southern Indian influence is so delicious that you may have to call for a spoon.
An interesting cocktail menu includes some inventive twists on familiar drinks - chaijito (about €9), which is an Asian take on a mojito with coriander and spiced tea syrup, for example - and also a good selection of world beers and quite good wines at reasonable prices, 14 of them offered by the glass.
There is so much to choose from this unusual restaurant that it probably takes more than one visit to get the best from the long menu, and perhaps investigate some of the more interesting dishes - including fish, which is chalked up on the blackboard.
While the menu be quite confusing, if you order wisely, say three or four small plates and then share one of the many larger options, two people should be able to dine for perhaps €40-50, excluding drinks and dessert, which is good value for food of this quality.
Children are welcome, but it’s very noisy and really better suited to couples or adult groups than children, particularly at dinner time.