Reviewed by Ruman
I love Indian food. Okay, I’m a little biased but there’s such diversity in ‘Indian’ food given how much it differs between regions and even cities in some cases. Talli Joe is one of many Indian restaurants in London but does it stand out from the crowd?
We headed to Talli Joe on a weekday evening and its appeal to a range of customers (the halal crowd, the post-work-looking-for-a-drink-and-good-food crowd and the pre-theatre crowd to name a few) is clear. The restaurant is dimly lit and the menu is sharing style, focusing on ‘small plates’ and ‘half plates’.
I’ve been to Talli Joe before but Zohra hasn’t. It had been a while since I’d visited so I was looking forward to seeing what had changed on the menu as well as getting to Zohra to try one of my favourite dishes in London. The waitress helpfully explained the menu and concept and we quickly ordered a few dishes. First up was the Kolhapuri Chaap. This was a tandoori lamb chop served with a potato salad with mustard dressing. The chop was cooked well but we felt like it didn’t have as much flavour as we would have expected (we were hoping for a bit of a kick). The potato salad was served cold and although they were spiced well, we would have preferred them to be warmer.
Next up was the Truffle Ghee Kulcha. This stuffed naan was filled with cottage cheese and brushed with truffle ghee. The bread was fresh and served with a chutney. We really enjoyed this dish and polished it off.
The Seafood and Okra Kempu was a classic Mangalorean dish of crispy seafood and okra served with tadka mayo. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this dish but after my first bite I knew it was going to be one of the highlights of the evening. The seafood was a mix of white fish, squid, prawns and more. The coating was delicious and even better when dipped into the tadka mayo.
Next up was the first of our dishes ordered from the half plates section. The Konkani Sea Bass Curry was served with tender coconut and red rice. The fish didn’t have any bones which I appreciated and the flavour from the curry had a slight sweetness to it. The rice was spiced and slightly harder than the standard steamed rice you’d normally get with a curry. Served with achar (pickle), the dish was full of subtle flavours that complemented one another well. The flavours in the curry were different from the dishes we had already tried on the night, making us feel like we were on a culinary journey across the various regions of India.
Next up from the half plates was one of my favourite dishes in London – the Kochi Beef Fry. This was a Scottish beef rump tail pepper fry served on top of a paratha. The beef was soft, well spiced and packed full of flavour. The beef fry is everything I love in a dish – great textures, flavours and a bit of a kick!
We couldn’t leave without trying Talli Joe’s famous Black Gajar Halwa – voted as one of Time Out’s Top Ten Dishes of 2016. When it came to our table I was suprised at the size of the dish (it was smaller than I expected) but as I started to dig in to it I quickly realised that this was actually the perfect portion. Unlike your standard Gajar Halwa (sweet and orange in colour), this was made using heritage black carrots and topped with salted peanut brittle. The peanut brittle added a crunch and saltiness to the dish which was welcomed. Washed down with a cup of masala chai (or green tea in Zohra’s case), this was a very good ending to the meal. The chai didn’t come pre-sugared which I appreciated as sometimes restaurants serve a really sweet cuppa. It was served with a Parle-G biscuit (if you’ve visited India, you’ve probably seen these around).
Overall, we were really impressed with the food, service and setting at Talli Joe. Given its location, its a great place to go for a pre or post-theatre meal or just an evening out with friends or families. The small and half plate concept makes it great for group dining. The prices are reasonable and service is great.
Value for money: 8/10 (£49.50 total bill excluding service charge // £24.75pp – we received
a complimentary meal)
Halal Status: All meat served is halal except the pork which is cooked separately.
Address: 152-156 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8HL
Nearest stations: Tottenham Court Road (Central, Northern lines), Leicester Square (Northern, Piccadilly lines)
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Ruman eats a brownie a day, but only with coffee. She struggles to eat more than 2/3 of an adult size portion of food, but always has room for dessert. When not exploring restaurants, galleries or cities around the world, Ruman is a Marketing Ninja at Halal Gems, where she also holds the title of Chief Chocolate Officer.
Forever consumed by a mixture of wanderlust and FOMO, her interests include all things social media, travel, charity, photography and food.
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