This Indian needs to be next on your food bucket list
The tasting menu at Patiala is a feast you're going to want to hear about
A restaurant owned by a celebrity chef always attracts a certain amount of fuss and attention when it opens its doors, but whether the quality of the food lives up to the hype after the paint has dried is another story. Patiala, an Indian restaurant belonging to celebrity chef Kunal Kapur first opened to fabulous reviews in 2013, I was excited when I got to visit last week to check out if the reviews were still deserved.
The restaurant, situated in Souk Al Bahar, has a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it entrance but what lays behind the tiny entrance is a small, discreet Indian eatery with a contemporary dark design and an entire menu full of traditional and modern delights.
The menu represents a culinary fusion of traditional North Indian food and modern cuisine (Indian lovers and fish lovers will be equally impressed). On our waiter's recommendation I tried the non-vegetarian taster menu and what I was served up was truly whopper in size and value. This restaurant has since featured on Lovin Dubai's top 10 Indian restaurants...Here's what you need to know about our meal experience.
The decor has a contemporary Indian twist
If you're unsure what a mix of traditional and contemporary India might look like, one look at the decor here will give you a good idea. The layout is small, long and narrow in shape, there's a low-key bar on your left as you enter and an open-plan kitchen at the far back. Long, low lighting features with exposed bulbs brighten the dark venue, engraved gold tiles dominate the ceiling and gold ornate objects adorn the wall. This modern and traditional fusion is a reflection of what we were about to see on the vast menu.
The non-vegetarian tasting menu
If you're curious about a restaurant, what better (and great value) way to get a glimpse of a what it's like than to try the tasting menu. The menu is divided into two parts; the classic and the innovative, and choosing the tasting menu gives a glimpse of both Indian cooking styles. The menu consisted of six starters served individually, three curries served together with sides and a light dessert to finish.
Six starters plated and served individually...six sounds like a lot and it IS a lot, but hey, these were all bursting with flavour so nobody was complaining. A contemporary start of some fish starters including beautifully grilled scallops with a bitter orange chutney, one large prawn tossed in onion seeds and garlic and more traditional starters of which the Haleem Kebab (juicy, slowly cooked shredded meat) was the highlight. At this point the waiter asked if we needed a break between courses...but we were loving the little bites and unusual flavour combos so we told the waiter to keep 'em coming.
The main course was a curry lover's dream
You couldn't help but be impressed as the mains were served. Three signature curries, a full-flavoured dal makhni and a palak soya (chopped spinach tossed with onion and garlic) were served with fresh-from-the-oven naan bread (for me, garlic is the undisputed hero of the naan breads but the olive zaatar naan here comes a very close second). The starters were the taste highlight, only because after six of them, (and a slowly cooked chicken soup with mozzarella in between) in all honestly we just weren't as hungry for the mains. We tried our best but could only muster a couple of (seriously) delicious spoonfuls of each. It seemed like the perfect time to bring home a doggy-bag, but we weren't really sure how the curry would travel, (or whether our fellow Metro users would appreciate it) so we decided against it. Top tip: Listen to your waiter and take a breather between courses...For the love of all curry, it will be worth it.
A light and sweet dessert to finish
To finish off this absolute feast we were served Bhapa Doi and mango lassi ice cream; this is a vanilla flavoured steamed yogurt and frozen lassi with mangos, berries and chickpea panjeeri. This was super sweet, but after such a heavy main course something light and sweet was in order and it fit the bill perfectly.
Make sure you check out the drinks menu too...
The cocktail list is extensive and definitely worth investigating further and the adjoining Patiala bar looks inviting and discreet; an unexpectedly secluded spot in the middle of a busy tourist hub (worth remembering if you find yourself in the area). We tried the Gin Sour Spice and the Patiala Passion; each had a memorable, spicy kick...a perfect representation of the Patiala menu.
The important bits...
Menu options start at AED 25 for a Dal but I would really recommend the tasting menu at AED 295 without drinks. The courses just keep on coming and you get a real flavour of North Indian and modern fusion cooking...plus I always find an extensive menu daunting so this takes the hard work of choosing what to have off your hands!
These guys are also starting a Saturday brunch from 9th April, 12 pm till 4 pm. Want to get in on a hip Saturday brunch scene before it becomes too popular and overpopulated? Call +971 4 4519151 to make a reservation. The brunch starts at AED 250 with soft beverages.