Restaurant review: Salaam Namaste, Bloomsbury, WC1
- Credit: Archant
Salaam Namaste is one of a new breed of Indian restaurants that go beyond mere balti and korma in a bid to elevate the nation’s favourite cuisine into the haute bracket.
It inhabits a quiet and rather unpromising bit of Bloomsbury, where its subdued lighting spills out onto an otherwise grey street and seemed to be the only sign of life in the area during our wet and wintery evening visit.
Inside, its a far cry from the flock wallpaper and chintz of the late-night curry house. Instead, the decor is more downtown cocktail bar – smooth walls, laminate floor, and surprising hints of neon illumination lurking in the corners.
Unfortunately, in common with many a bar, it felt a bit crowded – too many tables crammed in meaning I was fighting for elbow room with my neighbour.
Head chef Sabbir Karim has put together a fairly huge menu and it takes a while to digest all the options; especially when dishes as diverse as Dorset crab cakes, jungle lamb chop and curried goat are on offer.
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After the obligatory poppadoms, with some truly lovely chutneys, we tucked into the tandoori mushrooms – an interesting combo made sweet with figs and raisins, fiery with chilli and topped lavishly with cheese – and the more traditional tikka; well seasoned, succulent chunks of chicken with a tart apple chutney.
Also very good were the Goan spiced scallops – fleshy little numbers elegantly served up with a sugary mango salsa.
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Pick of the mains was either the seafood moilee – healthy pieces of prawn, squid and seabass swimming in a slightly unbalanced but still tasty mustard and coconut sauce, or the rich, dark and mysterious goat curry.
Meanwhile, the butter chicken was nice enough, smooth and succulent, without being beyond the remit of your usual curry, but unfortunately the lamb chops were disappointing –far too dry and overcooked.
Overall this is good stuff though, and worth travelling for; the presentation is great and the food both creative and exciting – it’s certainly not one to waste at pub-closing time after five pints. Although when a group of well-lubricated lads came in late on as we were leaving, they were given the same friendly welcome we’d had several sober hours earlier.