Friday, August 5, 2011

Spicy delights at Namaaste Kitchen in Camden

I have yet to discover many gourmet delights in Camden, but Namaaste Kitchen is one of the most cheering finds so far.

If modern, stylish, sometimes unusual and extremely tasty Asian food is your thing, it is certainly worth trying out. It was opened less than a year ago by the team behind Salaam Namaaste in Bloomsbury. The food spans different regions of India as well as Pakistan, with grilled food a speciality. The decor is thoughtfully low-key - cream leather, wood, exposed brick, that sort of thing.

The highlight for me was the starter of tandoori portobello mushroom, marinated and filled with figs, cashew nuts, green chilli and home-made paneer in a curry leaf dressing. I imagined a large stuffed mushroom but it arrived as four quarters in an elegant row. The flavours of the stuffing melded rather than being distinct but the whole thing was savoury, sweet and spicy at the same time in a very pleasing way - not bad for a stuffed mushroom.

The Real Ale Drinker had crab cakes with a spicy kick. They had been made with mostly brown meat (fuller flavour) and had not been padded out with too much potato, as frequently happens with crab cakes. They had a crisp outside and came with an un-Indian touch of flavoured mayonnaise for dipping.

The kadai sabzi, mixed vegetables with paneer, was not as innovative as my starter but was still very good - peppers, baby corn and mange tout as well as tender chunks of paneer. The Real Ale Drinker had goan-style sea bass - one of several interesting fish and seafood dishes on the menu - which was again beautifully presented.

We also had a light paratha and a side dish of okra with a fruity, tangy note to it - it was listed on the menu as okra with raw mango but its acidity made me think it might have been made with shatkora, a Bangladeshi citrus fruit.

There is a fair-sized wine list, but we stuck to Cobra (no real ale for the RAD) and a freshly-made and refreshing mango lassi.

Main courses are around £12, which includes rice (the food is served plated). We went armed with a Tastecard - the restaurant offers 50pc food off on weeknights, though we discovered once we arrived that this offer was limited to a particular menu - which when you booked through the Time Out website was already offering a 50pc discount on that menu anyway! So not a fantastic Tastecard deal, but either way, the 50pc off made it very reasonable for the quality.

Namaaste Kitchen
64 Parkway
London NW1 7AH
020 7485 5977

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