Mint Leaf Lounge is a mixed bar/restaurant type place focusing on upscale Indian food. Now, I’m always hesitant to go out for Indian cuisine as it usually never can live up to the test of “Is it as good as Mum’s?”. And while this doesn’t quite top some home-cooking, it’s pretty close.
Unfortunately, being in the City limits your options to some degree but there are a few places to keep in mind. The Anthologist and the Folly are within 5 minutes walk and serve up a great range of cocktails, wines, and beers. Both are fairly large so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a place to relax while your group drifts in. Keep in mind, however, that opening times during the weekend are likely to be restricted as the City turns into a dead zone.
And it’s also worth remembering that Mint Leaf has a large bar area with a fairly respectable cocktail list (albeit inspired by Indian flavours) and would avoid the need to walk over.
Alright, what to eat?
The menu is composed of about 6-8 each of starters, mains, sides, and breads so you have a decent selection to choose from. A minor gripe is that it’s fairly hard to tell which, if any, of the dishes are curries and which are relatively dry. All the dishes are Indian-inspired however some have been a bit more westernised in their appearance and flavour profile.
We opted for the lamb chops and potato cake for our starters, Rajastani lamb shank and tandoor chicken supreme for the mains, and a chocolate torte and orange and ginger cake for dessert.
The lamb chops were an absolute winner with the plate of three mini chops (according to the Ginger Pig these are most appropriately called lamb ends) seasoned perfectly and marinated in a spicy mix of masala, garlic, and ginger. The accompanying sauce was almost unnecessary and it was hard to share the succulent chops. However, the potato cake wasn’t a slouch with a three moist patties of spiced potato served with tamarind sauce and mint chutney.
My lamb shank for the main again supported the ability of the kitchen to produce some killer lamb dishes with the tender meat flaking off the bone at the touch. There wasn’t much of a masala taste I would normally associate with such cooking but a rich meaty sauce instead. It’s served with roti but I’d suggest exchanging it for the garlic naan which is small but epic. I also got a side of black lentils (known as dal to most of us!) which was smooth and tasty but lacking the punch I was hoping for. They use the lentils as a side/sauce for other dishes (such as the chicken supreme) so I’m guessing they tone down the flavour to avoid overwhelming the main dishes.
The chicken supreme consisted of two massive breasts coated in tandoori spices and grilled on high heat. The meat was tender and it went well with the dal but overall a bit of an uninspired dish.
The desserts are definite winners. The moist ginger and orange cake was served with a lightly flavoured star anise cream and a tangy mango sorbet. I’ll be the first to complain about any dessert without chocolate but I could have easily polished this one off myself. The chocolate torte was very rich and decadent – just as you’d expect from such a dish. Neither was really Indian, but both were very enjoyable.
All that food making you thirsty?
They have a full wine and cocktail list which the usual classics and a few inspired drinks – think a chai-tini and you are on the right track. The bar is also impressive and takes up the entire length of one side of the room. The whiskey selection (and this is how you know they cater to the Indian community) is impressive in its breadth and depth going from the basics (Bells) to your finer single malt scotch or peaty islays. Unfortunately, being a bit hung-over I opted for just water so can’t comment on the skills of the bartenders, but from the crowd at the bar on a Tuesday night I’d say they aren’t too shabby.
Worth the dosh?
To be fair, it’s not that expensive with starters around £8-10 and mains £15-25. However, the real value comes if you have a TasteCard as all food is 50% off, and since we did a 3 course meal came to £28pp. At that it’s definitely worth it!
At full price, well that’s a slightly different story. The food was tasty, but was it worth £50+? No, no it wasn’t. I’d be happy paying around £30-35 for the meal but at the end of the day it’s just not that much better than say Tayyabs to justify 3x the price.
Find Mint Leaf Lounge here
12 Angel Court
London EC2R 7HB
020 7600 0992