Coriander • Hatch End

Coriander

22nd April 2016

Reviewed by Alan Cox

Since my last visit, this snazzy and smart looking Indian restaurant has continued to add more accolades and awards to its already impressive array of trophies, ranking it one of the best in the area. It’s pretty busy too. The waiters are smart, attentive, and polite. This is a well-oiled ship where everything matters.

Its contemporary split-level design is tastefully furnished, and beautifully lit (I love the constantly changing light wall). The overall feeling is immaculately clean and fresh.

A cold Cobra, Popadoms (particularly light and crunchy) and the ubiquitous chutney tray soon make an appearance as we ponder the specialities and signature dishes which make Coriander stand out from the crowd. But first, appetizers…

We start by sharing an amazing meat platter, put together specifically for us, with ‘tasters’ of almost every meat starter on the menu. It’s huge. Not only huge in terms of size and selection, but also huge on flavour. It’s a meat-eaters paradise. Everything is perfectly cooked and full of Eastern promise.

The Samosa is one of the best I’ve eaten – light and crispy on the outside and bursting with fragrant flavours on the inside. The Chicken Chaat Puri, a poultry version of my beloved King Prawn Puri, is delicious – piping hot, succulent, spicy and served in a delicately light unleavened deep fried Indian bread. The Lamb Tikka, Chicken Tikka, Sheek Kebab and the rest of the platter are all of the highest quality.

It’s a substantial offering, and the subsequent pause in the proceedings, while our main courses are freshly prepared for us, is ideal.

We’ve decided on Beef Bemisal, strips of beef, spiced full of exotic flavours and Khulna King Prawn, delicately spiced with Indian herbs in a thick sauce, both signature dishes. We also share Karahi Mushrooms, Aloo Gobi (Potato and Cauliflower), a steaming bowl of Pilau Rice and a Peshwari Nan, our all-time favourite.

It’s unusual to find beef on an Indian menu but I’m glad it’s here: this has a gorgeous flavour and smooth texture. The meat was beautifully tender and not swamped in sauce which allows the flavours of the meat to really sing. Equally impressive and mouth-watering are the huge king prawns in a delicate, yet robust sauce. They’ve also been butterflied, which adds visual drama to the plate. A deft hand in the kitchen has produced, yet again, a spicy dish that is carefully balanced and subtle.

After our initial shock at the bright orange colour of the Peshwari Nan (why?…), it proves light and fluffy and, as ever, the perfect side for mopping up all the remaining sauce from the various dishes.

The generous portion Garlic Button Mushrooms really hits the spot, too, and the potato and cauliflower dish is firm and fresh. I struggle to fault this meal.

I’m not a fan of milk puddings, but to satisfy the balance of this Indian feast, am persuaded to sample Rashmalia, a cold milk curd dessert, often served at traditional weddings. It doesn’t really suit my palate, but my wife rather enjoys this simple and refreshing delicacy.

Coriander’s creative and contemporary approach continues to impress; I rather wish I lived a nearer I’d certainly frequent it more often. Its fusion of ‘traditional meets modern’ and vibrant atmosphere make dining out here a pleasure. Hatch End should be proud of this Eastern delight.

Starters: £3.75-£14.95
Mains: £8.90-£15.90
Desserts: £2.75-£5.90
House Wine £15.95

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