Well, the cat has been placed firmly among those proverbial pigeons in Twickenham’s Church Street. The opening, a few months ago, of Tsaretta Spice (in the old Pincho’s site with the terrace overlooking St Mary’s Church) has definitely raised the bar locally for Indian cuisine. In fact, I think the place may soon become a destination restaurant, and judging by the feedback from friends and our meal there the other day, it certainly deserves to!
The original Tsaretta Spice opened in Meribel, in 2016. Head chef Yousuf Mohammed quickly established its reputation and, amazingly for an Indian restaurant in a French ski resort, it soon secured (and still holds) the No 1 spot there on TripAdvisor! I don’t think it will be long before it scales similar heights locally.
We started with a beer and a cocktail – mine the Cardamom Chai Mojito – a refreshingly different mix of rum, ginger ale and spices.
We tried a number of the tapas dishes with our starters (tapas served at lunchtime only). These included: a delicate spiced beetroot ‘patty’ with quinoa; minced goat with pickled onions on a mini naan; Goan spiced soft shell crab deep fried with chilli, kaffir lime leaves and Goan vinegar; and grilled scallops with pink peppercorns and roasted tomato chutney. Everything was amazingly good – the goat subtly spiced, the crab had a gentle warmth and hint of sweetness, and the scallop was slightly caramelised, smoky with a gentle kick of spice afterwards. There is a highly skilled spice merchant on hand in the kitchen here!
We were recommended the Tawa sea bass, served on a bed of curry leaf infused mashed potato with a mango and coconut sauce. Reader, this dish was seriously good; a veritable tower of deliciousness!
We also shared Kashmiri Rogan Josh, a good example of a more classic dish, with melt-in-the-mouth lamb and a gradual heat in the sauce that builds in the mouth afterwards. Truffle naan was good, but the Peshwari a triumph; piping hot, moist and packed with coconut, almonds and mango. A side of Achari Baigan (aubergine cooked in pickled spices) made me think I’d died and gone to ‘aubergine heaven’. My favourite vegetable reached dizzy new heights here – it was sweet and fragrant.
Not surprisingly we had little room for anything else. But a shared light dessert of green apple jelabi with saffron sorbet was an excellent finale. The sharpness of apple offset the sweetness, and the inherent bitterness of the saffron in the sorbet balanced it perfectly.