Anand George’s new lunchtime menu venture puts his recent foray into street food front and centre.
Fresh from feeding the Street Food Circus hordes- up to 200 servings a (frenzied) hour, apparently- lunchtimes now see the concept extended to an in-house setting.
What’s on offer is not limited to their SFC menu. Within the familiar stylish surroundings this is a less structured menu than usual, a conscious side step from the usual lunchtime options: staff wear distinct branded uniforms as the menu is only available til 2pm.
A lassi was just the right blend of sweet and tart, with fruit puree swirling throughout. It looks just fine too, the mango marbling the yoghurt to diverting effect.
‘Salmon chunky’ is a pair of crisply-coated cakes with mustard seed and curry leaf, a telltale taste of Kerala with a subtle warmth.
A highlight is the venison pao: the meat, finely minced and delicately spiced and served on a lightly toasted bread roll.
A seasoned fried egg sits on top, waiting to ooze its silky way down through everything else. It’s a bit of a showstopper. The lone green chilli, flecked with sea salt crystals, provides an optional kick.
Keralan Calamari is strikingly presented and is the clearest nod to Purple Poppadom’s fine dining aspiratuions, the body scored and fanned outward on a bed of shredded dressed vegetables. The crumb is beautifully crisp, grease-free and lightly spiced, and it’s fair to say that even those who dislike squid might find something to like here. My friend certainly did, despite an aversion to any foodstuff that has more tentacles than eyes.
The clearest nod toward classic street food, though, is the roll. Fans of Katiwok- and I am firmly among them- will be no stranger to the eponymous kati roll, going here by the alternative name of ‘frankies’.
It comes wrapped, as if meant to be eaten on the go, which is at odds with the more ‘restauranty’ plating of the other dishes, but is the firmest nod to the street food idea. The shredded slow-cooked beef is a revelation, and recalls the acclaimed wraps which were such a strength of the late Munchesters. Here it is layered with salad leaves, pickled onion and cucumber and a hint of coconut, and it’s pretty substantial in its own right.
Last up (dishes appeared as and when they were ready, like the best tapas restaurants) was a thali.
The lamb curry was exemplary. Prawn, chicken and vegetable versions are available but from experience George really excels at ‘getting’ lamb and this was beautifully tender, the sauce assiduously blended to a consistency silky enough to fashion into something filmy and interesting. The thoran, a perennial menu favourite, was as impressive as ever, with the shredded seasonal veg flecked with mustard seeds, curry leaf and coconut.
My friend, who travels Europe on business and is no stranger to eating out, was hugely impressed.
I’d chosen Purple Poppadum after some thought, wanting to take Mal somewhere that was unique to the city and bound to impress. I was on safe ground: Anand George is a bit of a local treasure, and his food always excites and pleases. Highly recommended; in summary, some big flavours, beautiful textures and yet enough lightness to make a productive afternoon possible. If not desirable.
185a Cowbridge Road East
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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.
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