‘Keralan Passion, Britsh Style’ runs the legend over the bar in the new Mint and Mustard, Penarth. With the acquisition of a new chef, ex-Dishoom and Bombay Brasserie, this is a high-profile and well-situated addition to Penarth’s town centre, being only an enthusiastically hoiked patata brava from the estimable Bar 44.
There’s an expansive selection on offer, including three tasting menus; number 2 had a tidy balance of meat and seafood.
Poppadoms were light and fragile in typical fashion: the accompaniments were a mint and coriander, a silky mango purée and- pick of the bunch- a beetroot and date concoction which blended sweetness and earthiness rather than spice.
The famed Bombay chaat, with its centre of spiced yoghurt, is designed to be eaten ‘in one’. From experience, there is always someone who tries to be dainty and nibble at it, with predictably embarrassing (for them) and amusing (for everyone else) results.
The chicken tikka was a world away from the unnaturally scarlet ones at your local Friday night tandoori, in size (an entire boned-out thigh) and flavour and texture. A single prawn, spiced and butterflied and lightly battered, completed the trio. These latter portions featured the kind of subtle, builds-in-waves spicing common to all the best Keralan food in the city.
Some lightly buttered naan breads were stuffed with lamb- not doughy, but thin light layers sandwiching the meat. The interest-piquing ‘Bullet Naan’ is apparently for those who crave a hefty chilli uppercut: being wise/old/cautious (delete as appropriate) enough to avoid such shenanigans, I refrained.
A creamy dhal was a lovely thing, its gently warming cumin tones being instantly moreish.
There’s no way I can make a bowl of curry look pretty in these pictures, but the flavours more than made up for it. A thickly-sauced Lamb Chettinad had the sort of heat that creeps up on you and lingers without ever becoming overpowering. If there’s a lamb curry on the menu, it’ll inevitably make its way into my stomach, and the meat was beautiful- slow cooked until it fell apart with little persuasion.
The Dhaba prawn curry, the onion and tomato sauce as thick and rich as a minor member of the aristocracy, was another winner. The succession of dishes, all more than hitting the spot, was making for a spankingly good evening.
A tandoori chicken supreme was a hefty portion, the sort of thing to have you wolf it down before picking at the denuded bones for any elusive scrap of flesh.
An impressive menu, then, impressively executed. It also brings something Penarth needs, in a prime location, and it has obviously begun well. On a Tuesday night the place was full. Service is impeccable. Yes, I know we were there as guests, and it’s easy to be cynical about these things, so you develop antennae for this stuff, and it was obvious all tables received the same level of quiet but warm and attentive care.
Given Chef’s Mohammed’s background, it’ll be fascinating to see if this branch of the M&M empire develops its own distinctive menu, incorporating elements from his earlier stints in renowned kitchens. Time will tell: for now, Penarth has a quality addition to savour.
33-34 Windsor Terrace
I was invited to Mint and Mustard and as such all food and drink was complimentary. However, this did not oblige me to write a positive review.
YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY:
This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.