Featured Restaurant: Sathi

15th June 2018

33 Lower Rd • Chorleywood • WD3 5LQ • 01923 284323

Reviewed by Lisa Botwright

It’s quiet and peaceful outside Sathi in the fading summer light; I should be relaxed. I’m not. Instead, I’m tapping my foot, looking anxiously along the street and texting my husband frantically: ‘you’re late’. It’s not how I want to start the evening. When he (eventually) arrives, we both rush inside…

…only to find that our haste, my hurry, is completely out of step with the calm ambience of the restaurant. Here it’s all murmured conversation, pristine white table cloths and contemporary decor. Since this isn’t far from my own stamping ground, I know that it this is a popular local Indian eaterie and I’m keen to find out if the cuisine will match up to its reputation. We receive a warm and friendly welcome from the head waiter – a good start – and are shown to our tables.

My interest is immediately piqued with all the unusual-sounding offerings on the menu, including a range of chef’s recommendations and a special section for ‘new additions’. As well as the popular classics, there are many dishes I’ve never heard of and seek out the waiter’s advice. He asks me about the kind of thing I already like, and my preferred level of heat. (My husband – I’ll call him H for short – usually asks for extra chilli on everything as if it’s a test of bravery; I much prefer to enjoy layers of flavours and spices without an added blow-torch effect.)

I’m told the chef is more than happy to tweak any of his dishes so suit his customers’ tastes – evidence, I venture optimistically, of its freshness – and so we make our bespoke choices after a longer than usual chat with our very patient host.

We begin with two fairly simple starters: Sheek Kebab for H and Salmon Tikka for me. Two sizzling sausage-shaped lamb koftas arrive oozing orangey oil and emanating pungent spicy aromas, dressed with a crispy salad. ‘They’re delicious,’ H confirms. My salmon though, I feel, out-sizzles, out-fragrances and outshines the kebabs – it’s quite sublime: two big fat portions of fish seared black with tikka spices on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside; again, served with a crisp salad on the side.

Tastebuds suitably tantalised, we welcome our mains. We’ve gone for Batak (duck) Adraki, Achaar Lamb, Gobi Jeera (a cauliflower side) and Peshwari nan. The lamb is a dark and sticky dish with slow-cooked meat so meltingly sweet that it has an almost jam-like consistency. A powerful kick of heat brings a fiery balance. (How much extra chilli did you ask for, H?) The fat cubes of duck breast are cooked in a medium hot and sour bhuna-style sauce that’s just as deliciously complex, offering sweetness from mango pickles mixed with gingery heat. The cauliflower – fresh florets oven-baked in Indian spices – is a perfect foil to the intense sauces of the meat dishes, and is so delicious and full-flavoured it could easily hold its own as a main dish. We pass on rice, in favour of a generous serving of crispy, piping hot peshwari nan bread that we happily employ to mop our plates.

On a warm evening, after all these hot dishes, a nice cool dessert is Just The Thing. We share a portion of vanilla ice cream encased in a crust of dark chocolate and crunchy nuts, topped with an artistic wiggle of chocolate sauce. The snap of the coating as we dig in our spoons is really rather satisfying.

I’m unsurprised to find it’s all as good as I’d anticipated… H and I may not agree on the optimum number of chillies that should be added to a dish, but we do agree we’ll be back soon.

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