Welcome to The London Foodie
Reviews of London's Restaurants, Supper Clubs and Hotels, Wine Tastings, Travel Writing, and Home to the Japanese and French Supper Clubs in Islington
For the latest food events, restaurant openings, product launches and other food and drink related news, visit the sister site The London Foodie News
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Bangalore Express - An Evening of Wine Tasting and Indian Tapas
I was one of the lucky 20 or so Qypers and food bloggers who were recently invited by Eamon from Qype to take part in an Indian Tapas and Wine Tasting Event at the new City branch of Bangalore Express.
We were welcomed by the gorgeous Jennifer Goss from Complete Media Group, and seated shortly after with the proprietor Charles Hill and Louise from Liberty Wines who together gave us the low-down on the evening’s 16 wines and accompanying tapas.
My first impressions were excellent – the décor was modern and sleek, and the staff friendly and very helpful. Charles’ partner, Yogesh Datta (the acclaimed chef of The Painted Heron in Chelsea) was also present and quietly greeted us.
I have attended wine tasting classes over the last twelve years and know a little about the different grapes and terroirs, and what to expect from each. I can pretty much match any Western dish to a decent bottle of wine, but partnering Indian food & wine is a whole different ballgame. I was impressed that Charles & Louise had taken up this challenge at Bangalore Express.
We started the evening with a selection of eight different bottles of white wine, with accompanying dishes. These had been carefully chosen to compliment the spicy Indian food on offer and included some very aromatic and rich grape varieties like a Gewurztraminer from Alsace and an Austrian Gruner Veltliner, two of my favourite bottles of the evening.
Our first dish was “Chilli paneer cheese on yoghurt cake with red onions”, followed by “Tiger prawns with mild korma” and “Duck, cashew nut and raisin roll”. These were all well flavoured and mildly spiced.
Other outstanding whites included a Rhone Valley Viognier, a 2007 Vermentino from Tuscany, and an Australian “Plantagenet” Riesling. These were all excellent choices – they were robust, complex and full of tropical fruit flavours, and stood up well to our food.
The “Salmon tandoori with dill” was served next – this was pleasant and beautifully charred. The “Chicken tikka masala” that followed was also flavoursome and nicely presented with deep fried curry leaves on top.
We also tasted two bottles of rose wine including a French Grenache-based blend followed by an Australian bottle of Merlot. To accompany these we had “Lamb meat balls in tempered mint yoghurt”. This was one of the best dishes of the evening despite looking rather odd (more like white chocolate truffles than lamb).
To accompany the meat courses that were to follow, we were then served six different red wines including a 2007 Boudeaux, another fantastic Austrian wine made of 100% St Laurent grapes (a grape I had never tasted before), an Argentinian Malbec, and three other Italian wines. These were all fine wines.
The “Caribbean curried goat” was another excellent dish, the meat was perfectly cooked and the sauce richly flavoured. The “Chicken tikka in baby corn sticks” and “Duck Roganjosh” were also good.
One of Bangalore’s novel ideas is the ability to mix and match your favourite meats and cooking styles from a matrix in their menu. All you need is to choose a type of fish or meat, a cooking style, vegetables and rice to accompany it. You might opt for a Duck Roganjosh or a Prawn Tikka, the variations are truly endless. A big plate of chosen curry and rice will set you back £9.50 (or £8.50 at the Waterloo Branch).
The final dishes were “Lamb tikka marinated in mint” and “Onion bhajis with spinach and fresh fenugreek leaves”. Both were beautifully cooked and distinct in flavour.
Bangalore Express’ menu is eclectic and will probably appeal to anyone who enjoys contemporary Indian cuisine. As well as some “classics” like dosas, tandoori dishes, thali and curries, the menu also offers dishes like “Indian Fish and Chilli Chips”, “Masala Burgers”, and their “Indian Style Calzone”, all @ £9.50.
An interesting innovation to encourage wine rather than lager drinking with Indian food is the introduction of wine “flights”. These are different selections of three x 125ml glasses of wine (equivalent to half a bottle) at £12 for white and rose “flights”, and £14 for reds “fligths”. With bottle prices ranging from £17 to £28, the “flights” have not been marked up, making them a very interesting option for wine lovers.
A big thank you to Eamon from Qype for allowing me to take part in this fantastic event, and to Charles and Yogesh for their great generosity and hospitality, and for showing us the way forward with contemporary Indian eating and drinking.
Verdict –Good Indian food at very reasonable prices. One of the best wine lists in town and serving “flights” of 3 x 125ml tasting glasses at no extra charge, a must for any wine lover. I cannot wait to return and try a couple of “flights” with a selection of Indian tapas.