The Mint Room, Clifton

A visit to the Mint Room is definitely worth dressing up for as the restaurant is classy, sassy, serves a knockout cocktail, and all this as well as offering a terrific choice of Indian dishes that you probably haven’t come across before – Scottish scallops in the seafood platter and guinea fowl tikka to name but two. We began in the well-stocked bar with a gin and tonic cocktail; Portobello gin, with Solerno blood orange liqueur, lemon juice, rosemary and tonic water which really hit the spot before going through to our table in the restaurant.

It was a great table for two next to the wine room separated by glass where we could gaze admiringly at the collection of fine wines and champagnes, and think about what would soon be gracing our table. There is a tasting menu but the dishes on the main menu looked so tempting we decided to order from this; to start I chose, wild rabbit, curry leaf and peppercorns served with crispy rice pancake (Rabbit Varuval), and my husband white crab meat, chana dal ginger, chilli and pudina chutney (Khekada). To follow was a hard choice, would it be the lamb rack or fresh water king prawns? In the end neither: for me the Mangalorean-style spring chicken, cooked with fennel, ground chilli, coconut and curry leaves (Nadan Curry) and for him, lamb shank slow cooked over six hours in a caramelised onion, tomato and yogurt sauce (Nalli Gosht). To complete, we added side dishes of basmati rice, garlic naan and baby potatoes with fried okra (aloo bhindi).

Of course you can’t begin an Indian feast without the pickle tray and the Mint Room’s is delightful, tiny pappadoms slightly shaped so that you can spoon in the chutneys and eat whole. Then our starters arrived looking so delicate and beautifully presented, both the rabbit and the crab were delicious, and well complemented by glass of Durbanville Hills Chenin Blanc we ordered to go with them.

We rather thought these two dishes couldn’t be beaten on flavour but our main courses proved this wrong; the lamb shank a triumph of tender meat falling from the bone with its rich caramelised sauce and I really enjoyed the spring chicken with its robust and chilli spiced sauce. We mopped up any stray sauce with soft pillows of garlic naan till nothing was left; miniature hot towels were brought flowering to full size by the neat trick of a sprinkling of hot water.

We finished with baked rasmalai (baked milk dumplings) a sticky end to a lovely evening. Besides the food it’s a pleasure to eat at the Mint Room for their professional and thoughtful service, attention to detail and harmonious surroundings; a rare find these days.

Jacquie Vowles