Food review: Namaste India on Opie Street leaves an authentic taste

Namaste Special Masala Dosa. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe.

Namaste Special Masala Dosa. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe. - Credit: Archant

We try ditching the take-away and dining out at an Indian restaurant with a difference.

Baingan Bharta and Pulav rice. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe.

Baingan Bharta and Pulav rice. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe. - Credit: Archant

Food

My husband and I are rather partial to an Indian take-away. It's one of the easiest ways to treat ourselves to some nice food without the hassle of arranging a baby-sitter.

Therefore, when we get a rare opportunity to go out for dinner, we tend to go for something different. But when I heard good things about vegetarian restaurant Namaste India, I was keen to give it a go.

We booked a table on a Monday night, and I'm glad we did - it's a very popular spot.

Mini poppadoms and chutney. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe.

Mini poppadoms and chutney. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe. - Credit: Archant

I'd heard the Dosa are amazing, but the Baingan Bharta caught my eye. It's a mashed smoky aubergine curry prepared with tomato, onion, ginger and fresh coriander, which I ordered with Pulav rice – right up my street!

Lucky, husband Matt was sold on the Dosa, so I knew I'd get a taste at least. He went for the Namaste Special Masala Dosa - a thin and crispy crepe rolled up and stuffed with dry, lightly spiced potato, onion, mustard speed, grated paneer (Indian cottage cheese), coconut and roasted cashew nuts, served with a spiced lentil soup called Sambhar and a cool coconut chutney.

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We also had some yummy mini poppadoms served with three chutneys to start, a side of Chana Masala, a chickpea curry cooked in a rich tomato and onion base, plus some chapattis.

The Dosa was absolutely huge – literally hanging off the edge of the plate. I knew it was good because Matt very quickly offered me a taste – it's always nice to share a good thing. And I returned the favour with my aubergine curry. It was smoky and delicious, as was the chapatti with a big scoop of Chana Masala.

Chana Masala. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe.

Chana Masala. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe. - Credit: Archant

We'd already eyed up the desserts, and both fancied the Hindustani – Gulab Jamun, a spongy, milky doughnut in cardamom golden syrup, served with Kulfi ice cream and mango with nuts on the top.

I have one word for this dessert – yum!

Our bill came out with a dish of mukhwas, or mouth freshener. The idea is to chew a spoonful to cleanse the palette and help neutralise the acidic curry to prevent indigestion. It's probably not something I'd have again, but I'm glad I gave it a go.

Drinks

Hindustani dessert. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe.

Hindustani dessert. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe. - Credit: Archant

Namaste India does not promote drinking, and only serves non-alcoholic beers. Diners can bring their own alcohol, with corkage charges of £4.95 per bottle of wine and £1.45 per beer/lager.

The soft drinks options included lots of fruit juices and smoothies. The only thing I was a bit disappointed with was that they didn't serve fresh coffee – I would have liked a cup at the end of my meal.

Ambiance

If you like your Indian restaurants modern and trendy then Namaste India might not be for you. I would describe it as authentic, with bright yellow walls, on which were hung lots of pictures and decorations.

Mukhwas, or mouth freshener. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe.

Mukhwas, or mouth freshener. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe. - Credit: Archant

When we first arrived there weren't many diners, but it soon filled out with eager dinners tucking into some really interesting dishes and there was a real buzz as everyone enjoyed their food.

Accessibility

I would say it's not great. The restaurant is very small, so not much room for manoeuvring, plus the toilet is down a steep flight of stairs.

Parking

Namaste India on Opie Street. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe.

Namaste India on Opie Street. Photo: Sophie Stainthorpe. - Credit: Archant

Closest would be Castle Mall.

Location

It's just off Castle Meadow, so ideal if you're getting the bus and walkable from anywhere in the city centre.

Loos

As I said, the single toilet is down a steep flight of stairs. It was clean if a little dated.

Price

It was certainly more than a take-away, but I can clearly see why. The owners have created a really authentic Indian restaurant where diners can get a true taste of the food eaten in their native Gujarati. It was so unlike any other curry I've ever had that I don't mind the higher cost.

Service

The waitress was really friendly and only too happy to answer our questions, of which we had quite a lot.

In summary

Indian restaurants are very much back on my radar when it comes to eating out. There's so much more to Indian food than korma or tikka masala. Being a pescatarian, I usually go for a prawn or fish option, so I wasn't sure how a completely vegetarian curry would work, but it really does. Overall, I felt like we'd had a really authentic taste of India. I'd like to go back again and have one of those Dosa all to myself.

This is an independent review.

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