For most of us Indian food means a chicken tikka masala straight from the microwave or with plenty of pints of Cobra in the curry house next to the local pub on a Friday night. It has become one of our national foods. Something we stole, ruined and now churn out across the country in an array of fluorescent colours. This means Indian food and fine dining rarely go hand-in-hand. A few years ago I would have been one of these very people washing down bright orange masala sauce late at night, and if you’d told me I’d be sipping a cocktail and eating lightly spiced soft shell crab in a Michelin star Indian restaurant in Marleybone, I’d have laughed it off. But tonight it was Trishna, the older sister of Gymkhana, and that is exactly what I was doing.
Set just off Marleybone High Street, Trishna has an unassuming frontage that is matched by the simple interior of painted white brick walls, warmed by a few touches of artwork and the dark wood furniture. It’s at once stylish and comfortable, and for Michelin star dining about as laid-back and unpretentious as you can get. We were one of the only tables in there at 6.30 on a Friday, but after a couple of excellent Indian spiced cocktails, we weren’t paying any attention to the lack of atmosphere.
The waiters were excellent and it was nice for once not to be informed of the time they want you in and out. Instead they just let us take our time, bringing some moreish poppadoms and a great mango chutney to start things off. It was a strange experience having a sommelier recommend a wine to compliment my curry, but the bottle of Austrian Chardonnay (£30 for 500ml) was excellent.
To start I had the Gilafi Duck Seekh Kebab (£10) which was presented very neatly, with an interesting spiced pineapple chutney that worked brilliantly with it.
My partner had the Nandu Varuval (£10.50)- soft shell crab, green chilli, garlic and white crab chutney. Again this was an excellent dish with a delicate balancing of flavours.
For main the Seafood Biryani (£18) was again a lovely fragrant dish. My only complaint would be that whilst there was plenty of seafood minced in with the rice, I would have preferred some bigger chunks. The yoghurt dip that it came with was so good that I ordered another and spooned it into my mouth long after the biryani had finished.
My partner went for the Andhra Lamb Masala (£20) which I feel could have done with a little bit more sauce. In the end we ended up lathering more of the yoghurt on it.
The bread basket (around £9 for 3 naans) was fine, but I was hoping for more duck in the keema naan. This was the only minor complaint of a flawless meal.
To finish we shared the Aam Malai (£7.50)- alphonso mango cream, raw mango chutney and mango jelly. This was a hit and miss dish- there were elements I loved like the mango jelly cubes and the pieces of dried mango, but it was all a bit sickly, and the green little shot glass combined with the mango chutney pushed this towards the savoury side of desserts, something I’m not a huge fan of.
The bill came to £70 a head, but that included 2 cocktails each and a £30 bottle of wine. The food was certainly worthy of its Michelin star, and when compared to other Indian restaurants in London that hold a star, such as Tamarind and Amaya, this was considerably better, both in terms of price and the quality of the food. What made the meal was the surroundings, as it managed to maintain that causal feel but did so with flawless service and exciting food.