Chai Thali: 19 Mandela Street, Camden, London NW1 0DU
Food: Indian Street Food
The Chai Thali menu is split by small plates, curries, full thali’s and accompaniments. As we were all mainly vegetarians we stuck to a selection of veggie dishes. By selection I mean quite a lot of food!
This place is great for those who like to try lots of different dishes. They do have mains as well and we did order a few of those but the great thing about places like this is going with a group, ordering lots of things and sharing it all out.
We ordered both the plain and masala mini popadoms, in all fairness I think the plain were better. All that happens with the masala papad is you get a side dish of spiced tomato chutney. We ordered two portions; you will need them, as they are mini and delicious!
The other favourite was the Kurkuri Bhindi, sliced Okra fingers coated in a light spicy batter. Oh my goodness – these tasted sublime. We started with one and ended up ordering another portion. These were delicious without being oily.
The pani poori was a huge hit and the presentation was brilliant. Loved the little shot glasses filled with the delicious ‘pani’. We also ordered a chilli paneer, which was delicious and it was clear to see that they had used homemade paneer, which was lovely and soft. My least favourite dish was the stuffed mushroom, I love mushrooms but this didn’t really do it for me. I think the other starters were so yummy they sort of dwarfed the mushrooms (my cousin would disagree as she loved them!).
For our mains we ordered a Paneer Makhni, Maa Ki Daal and a Subziyon Ka Khazaana together with steamed rice and buttered naan. The mains were delicious and for me if you like lentils definitely order Maa Ki Daal, which is a combination of lentils and pulses, cooked for 12 hours (I mean that is dedication and never going to happen at home!). It was so delicious that I could eat it over and over again. The Paneer Makhni was rich creamy dish, spiced just right and again outstanding. Finally the Subziyon Ka Khazaana was a mixed vegetable dish. I wasn’t convinced about this but one of the girls wanted to order it and I’m glad we did the sauce was delicious and probably one the nicest vegetable curries I’ve tasted.
All in all the food was delicious and my mouth is watering just thinking about our meal.
So as per usual we stuck to a bottle of wine and water, however the restaurant does have a pretty extensive list of cocktails, wines and beers as well as soft drinks. You won’t be disappointed and also worth noting that the prices were brilliant. Our bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough was £19.90, which is pretty amazing for London.
The service was great (I mean ok we were one of two tables in there but still!) your order gets taken and then food sort of just comes out, as it is prepared. If you are into starters followed by mains then order accordingly otherwise your mains might come out with your starters. We were not bothered by this so we requested everything to come out as and when.
Value for money is great. For all the food I talk about plus a dessert we paid approximately £105. For what we ate I felt this was great value for money. We all agreed that the price was a lot cheaper than we had anticipated especially as we literally waddled out having eaten so much.
We went on a Saturday lunchtime and it was quite. When I say quite I mean eerily quite. I must admit I was slightly worried as to where I’d booked and whether or not it would be any good! (I always fear that quite food venues are often not a good sign).
However if you think about the location of this restaurant and where it is situated you can see why it is so quite on a weekend. The restaurant is attached to an office block and surrounded by offices. So I’m guessing that this place is packed out mon-fri when everyone is at work. The venue itself is pretty relaxed, café style with wipe clean wooden table tops, menus doubling up as placemats and lots of bright walls. As it was a girls catch up and we were busy chatting the lack of atmosphere didn’t really bother us.
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED?
As I mentioned we went on a very quite day. I feel that when it is this quite there really shouldn’t be any room for errors and I am being picky but we ordered a starter dish that despite them being reminded twice never came out.
In fairness by the end of the meal we’d forgotten all about it and we only remembered at the end of the day when we were recalling all the yummy dishes we had tried.
They hadn’t charged us for the dish but I think the ordering system means everything comes out ‘higgledy piggledy’ and so it is easy to forget if something has come out or not.
I hate to think what might happen when they are busy, however the food was so delicious that we have forgiven them. The other thing we would also like to see is more than one loo, the loo is actually attached the office blocks which is not ideal.
Would I go back – yes yes yes! I highly recommend you try this place, go with a group, order lots of small plates (and curries) and enjoy!