What: I must admit, we have been blessed with sunshine this summer and little beats a stroll through the tourist-stained streets of Camden during June, awash with food stalls and Amy Winehouse devotees.
A recent Sunday took myself and a friend to Camden to review Namaaste Kitchen, (and to watch Harry Kane score goal after goal in the England V Panama). Namaaste Kitchen is an award-winning Indian restaurant offering a new lunch menu, and whilst the sunshine coupled with Indian lunchtime cuisine could be deemed bizarre, the foods sumptuous tastes distracted us from the weather outside.
The Setting: Namaaste Kitchen has an ideal location, between Camden and Primrose Hill. It’s set amongst other foodie havens at 64 Parkway, and a short stumble from iconic pubs including the Earl of Camden just across the road.
The Look: The look inside is eclectic, with a centre piece disco ball hanging from the ceiling, set against the backdrop of exposed brickwork, wooden floors and lights reminiscent of the 80s. It’s a very light and airy restaurant and so despite being inside during the summer day, the atmosphere provided a refreshing, almost al fresco environment.
On the Menu: Since opening in 2010, Namaaste Kitchen has been subject to critical acclaim and a host of reviews. With this in mind, my friend and I were excited to delve into the lunch menu that traces India North to South, East and West flavours, boasting classics such as biryanis and korma. Following suit with the changing of the times, Namaaste Kitchen also offer a range of gluten-free, vegan and halal options.
The new menu takes its inspiration from street food, unsurprising given the array of vendors spread across Camden, and dishes are composed by proprietor Sabbir Karim who has taken inspo from his wanderlust ways offering a range of food-well-travelled dishes.
What We Ate: It was quite hard to avoid just opting for the classics, but our waiter twisted our arm and I’m glad he did. We started with some poppadoms, as is the norm! They were complemented by a range of chutney’s, including a zingy mango chutney which I polished off in a flash.
To start, we had a dish from the grill section, which you can have in starter or main size. The Coriander and Lime Chicken Tikka was marinated in a garlic, with green chillies, coriander, lime leaf and chargrilled in a clay oven. This starter was so delicious I can still taste it, the garlic didn’t overwhelm as there was just the right amount, and there was a great depth of flavour to the chillies. For a more spicy, blow-your-head-off dish, try the Tellicherry Chilli Garlic Prawns, they’re fiery and even my friend who struggles with spice found them moreish.
Onto the main, the waiter suggested I try their signature dish, a Mangalorean Kori Gassi Chicken. The curry wasn’t my usual dish but I think it will start to be after the explosive flavours wooed me. The dish includes flavours of coconut, mustard seeds, curry leave, roast chillies and tamarind. If you want a tremendously Indian dish then go for this. Wonderfully presented in the centre of a white dipped plate, it has the appearance of a soup and explodes with flavour.
My friend opted for Chicken Jalfrezi – Ok so maybe this is a classic, but in our defence we knew we couldn’t give Namaaste Kitchen top marks unless we delved into the traditional – of course, it was fantastic.
What We Drank: There’s a tremendous range of cocktails at Namaaste Kitchen, and as we were having a boozy brunch kinda Sunday we weren’t afraid to plug for a couple of them. Sections include signature cocktails, something sweet, something stronger (yes please!) something different and mocktails. Aside from this there are shots, but we thought let’s not push it, it was only 1pm after all.
I started with a Summer in Paris (not literally, I was still in Camden). This cocktail includes ciroc, Cointreau, elderflower and lychee juice. It was pink, adorned with a flower so I loved it automatically. The tastes were very refreshing, and it quenched my thirst and cleansed my palette. Next it was onto the Angoori Masti for me, Ciroc grape vodka (super tasty), with Litchi juice, cranberry juice and apple juice. Whilst my friend opted for something strong which came with a grimace from the waiter as he seemed to agree it was rather a brave afternoon tipple choice. Introducing The Envy, which I most certainly wasn’t envious of with ingredients Ciroc vodka, midori, green apple syrup and lime juice. It’s appearance was bright green, almost on par with a Sourz shot, eek! It was quite sour in taste, not for me but my friend loved it!
To finish, we had a couple of black americano’s, rich and creamy in taste and, coupled with the cocktails, provided us with more energy than a Jack Russell puppy nipping at the postman.
Go With: A good friend as they’re (hopefully) someone who doesn’t mind eating Indian food on one of the hottest days of the year! Either that or an advocate for this particular cuisine every time the “takeaway?” question is posed on a Friday.
Where: 64 Parkway, Primrose Hill, NW1 7AH, www.namaastekitchen.co.uk
Final Word: My local Indian in a small village called Lymington in Hampshire has always had my heart when it comes to the Indian cuisine, but I have to say Namaaste Kitchen is now a very close contender, especially coupled with the smiley service from our waiters who made some divine suggestions.