Wednesday 6 November 2013

Carom, Wardour Street


Always seeking a new culinary experience, I’ve eaten in most of the restaurants on Wardour Street! There was one doorway I’d always passed though, purely out of confusion; a big, dark staircase, with multiple menus on the door outside. But on Monday night, my friends and I took the plunge, and gave it a go. One of the menus was for Carom, a pan Indian restaurant with reasonably priced dishes, so we ventured inside and hoped we might find it!

We were seated at a booth at the back of the main floor. Black walls, red leather and funky lighting made it feel very swanky indeed! Luckily, this was Carom. We had to tackle the menu with both hands, as it was vast and full of delicious sounding meals. There was a “Travellers’ Menu”, with two courses for just £10, but having sneaked a look at the cocktail menu with several pages dedicated to gin, we decided on one main, and a cheeky drink to finish.

I say “decided”, but it wasn’t quite a snap decision. There was to-ing and fro-ing, pages turned backwards and forwards, and many a “Well, what are you having?”. Finally, after we’d already sent the waiter away once, we committed and ordered. They brought us some popadoms to start us off, which I’d usually ignore, but instead of the usual standard selection of dips, they brought three types of homemade chutney; date and ginger, smoked chilli, and carrot!

I went for the “Lamb Chops Karaikudi”, although I had been tempted by the chicken tikka “Gin Sizzler” for quite a while. I made the right choice though. The chops were very tasty, and I was pleased to find there was hardly any fat on them. I have to say the meat dishes were rather smaller than I expected, but with delicious sides, it was perfectly filling. I accompanied my dish with some steamed basmati rice and a “Dhaba Salad” (onion, tomato, cucumber and chilli). My friends had the jhinga tikka, “Beef Uppukari”, and shared naan breads. Both found it hard to finish, but agreed it all tasted great.

After the plate clearing came another difficult decision; which of the many gin cocktails was I going to have? I settled on the “Ginger Chilli Tipple”, which I ordered hot because I thought it sounded intriguing! The waiter was a bit confused, but when I pointed out that the menu suggested I had it this way, he was much more understanding. The others ordered a “Basil Spice Collins” and, for the gin-hater, an “Apricot Cosmopolitan”. What an array of flavours we had! The cosmo was strong with brandy, and my Tipple was sweet, like a mulled wine, but with a fiery punch. I was brought a traditional long-handled cup to drink it from, but the cocktail itself was served in a bright red china teapot! The “Basil Spice Collins” was the most peculiar by far, arriving in a small fish bowl that made it look like a crystal ball. If you can imagine the taste of gin, basil and black pepper all in one, you can image that we couldn’t quite decide whether we were fans! Still, it was certainly like nothing I’d tried before, which is always the point of an experience.

I promise to never look warily at Carom’s door again. A lovely evening, I’ll definitely be returning when I want a special meal with a bit of added fun!

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