The Handbook
The Handbook

Last week The Handbook broke its attempt at ‘Dry January’, but it was rightly so as we were drinking the gin cocktails at Carom at Meza on Wardour Street.

When we arrived on a Thursday night the restaurant was buzzing, clichéd as that word may be it was. It was bustling with drinkers at the bar, large groups of diners filling up the booths, couples on dates and every so often a waiter bringing out a dish and igniting it.

The menu offers a range of small plates, so we started with a mound of chilli squid, perfectly crisp and served with a coriander dip. Next arrived Potli, three crisp parcels of vegetables – they had a great texture but they lacked the oomph needed to make them stand out, the accompanying mint and tamarind chutney was smooth but again just needed a little kick.

We followed this with a veritable feast of black lentil daahl – beautifully creamy, you can see why it is a Carom special; peshwari naan, sweet, soft and plenty for two and two curries. Not being spicy foods greatest fan, I thought I would go for the Red deer venison shank quarma as the menu said it came with a mild curry. The shanks of game and venison literally dripped off the bone, it was so tender, and it melted perfectly. But mild curry? Unfortunately not, it was definitely more hot than not, our lamb nihari which was also delicious was more mild than this mild curry.

We finished with a sticky toffee pudding, it was golden it oozed toffee and it worked so well with the cinnamon ice cream – yes it might not be a particularly Indian pudding, but you can’t beat something this nostalgic favourite.

As Carom specialises in gin, throughout the meal the bar manager, Adam Spinks bought us out a cocktail or two, or maybe three. Two which stood out were the Aviation a mix of Aviation gin, violet, lemon and maraschino cherry liquer, it was served on a vintage copy of the French Revolution for a touch of drama!  But the pièce de résistance was the Elephant Head: Elephant gin, elderflower, apple, ginger ale and flamed absinthe with lemon – aptly served a la flambéin a giant china elephant’s head! Definitely one to share.

Set within the heart of Soho, Carom is serving up good food, great cocktails and all for a great price.

Value for Money: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Food: 7/10

Atmosphere: 8/10

Overall: 7.75/10