Review: Meluha's taster menu

Tuesday, 5 November 2013
I've already waxed lyrical about Meluha and I didn't plan to re-review a restaurant so quickly but I was compelled to after our recent experience.  I've not come across such high quality Indian before and I'd strongly urge you to go if you are in Bristol.  Or even if you aren't, head there, now.

I was very lucky, Mr K offered to pay for it as a late birthday present.  He did also get me a light and tripod for food photography but a lovely meal is a definite bonus.

The first thing to comment on is how well we were treated.  The service there is impeccable and we spoke to the husband and wife (Rebecca) front of house team and we even met the chef at the end of the meal.

We opted for an Indian red to accompany our meal, an excellent addition.  It had the right level of warmth and was easy to drink - we made our way through most of two bottles.  I should mention that on a tasting menu it's probably worth stocking up on water as well as wine as it can be pretty easy to get a little bit tipsy as you get great little tastes of everything over the three hour period you're there.  Not that I would ever do that.  No, no... all about sharing the important information, me.

So, to the most important element of the review - the food.  First up on the tasting menu was this spinach and coconut dal - a hot palate cleanser.  It's kind of strange drinking a warm drink through a straw but that was quickly overcome by the taste.  Just what you'd expect from a clean dal but just a little creamier.  It was the kind of recipe that tastes effortless but clearly was worked on.  There was also a bit of a citrus note to it.

After this, the big guns - the paneer.  I may have mentioned the paneer A LOT in my tweets to Meluha - which they clearly took note of.  This paneer arrived in a jar filled with woodsmoke.  Felt like something out of a Blumenthal episode and the smell really added to the meal.  It was served with a few tart pomegranate seeds and salad.  Alongside it was strawberry jam and edible paper.  The paper was crunchy and crispy and it went well with the chutney-like jam.

Then we received our starter and I was so very pleased to receive the starter I had last time we visited - 'India 2035'.  This is made up of three tasty bites - a cheese samosa, aloo chat and paneer in an Indo-Chinese sauce.  This is Also featuring on the plate were edible smears - a mint yoghurt, tamarind and a beetroot sauce.  Small garnishes that both added to the visual aspect of the dish but were also delicious.  The Indo-Chinese sauce was hot hot hot, the samosa crispy and filled with local cheese and the chat an interesting mix of sesame sticks and chickpeas.  Who could complain about that?

The next course was delivered on a skewer and featured mushroom, cauliflower and potato cooked in tandoori sauces.  Mr K wasn't very good about checking on what these were and despite asking (and being helpfully informed) I didn't manage to get all of the details down.  My favourite by far though was the mushroom - cooked in a black pepper and yoghurt marinade.  I love black pepper based sauce and this was so fiery.  What was even better is that Mr K doesn't like mushroom, so I got two!

After this came an extremely cold but surprisingly creamy lemon sorbet to cleanse the palate.

At this point, I was beginning to feel like someone who has been on a diet for five months and found that I was a little full.  Anywhere else, I might have stopped at this point but with Meluha, I was up for the challenge of tasting everything.

The main course featured small tasters of shahi paneer, bawarchi bendi Masala and aloo gobi, alongside a pyramid of pilau rice and two types of naan bread - peshwari and garlic.  Again, I've spoken about the garlic naan at Meluha before, they are packed with flavour.  It's great to see orka getting star billing in a meal and the new potatoes in the aloo gobi made for a bit more bite to the dish - definitely welcome.  The paneer was all I'd expect - fluffy and flavourful and the creamy tomato sauce it was served disappeared rather quickly on both our plates.  I didn't personally need very much of the rice with my dish and didn't quite complete the naan - carbs feature so little in my day to day life that I had to admit defeat.

Finally, the dessert arrived, the dessert on the left was like a cheesecake but made with natural yoghurt. The yoghurt and the berries were an excellent mix.  I couldn't quite make my mind up about the biscuit base which I believe was flavoured with rum.  It felt a little too chewy for my tastes.  On the right hand side was Ras Malai - dessert made from paneer (really, we were treated well!) with pistachio nuts and cream.  This was a real revelation.  I love pistachio kulfi but haven't really tried any other Indian desserts.  I'll be sure to do so now.  This was just the right level of sweet to finish off the meal, particularly in addition to the extremely dark chocolate on the plate.  The strands of edible paper were the first thing to go - so interesting to have these making up part of both the sweet and the savoury dishes.

So, to sum up, Meluha is amazing and you should go there.  Their tasting menu starts at £40 per person and it's completely worth it.  Be warned though, they are busy - full when we booked in and the weekend before.  Rebecca told me that the taster menu regularly changes and that if you are a regular customer, they'll make sure that you don't have the same thing each time.  I'm hoping we'll be back again soon to test that one out!

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