Inspired by the dive bars in India, Shaftesbury Avenue’s Talli Joe is the exciting new venture of ex-Benares chef Sameer Taneja. Expect small plates and an extensive cocktail menu incorporating ingredients from different regions in India, including some very unique ingredients, such as biriyani oil. Never thought I’d have that in my cocktail!
The small plates are designed to be shared with one or preferably many drinks. ‘Talli’ means tipsy, so you can see where the restaurant is going with this. The menu includes a selection of creative dishes ideal for a tapas meal, but quite different to dishes typically found on the menus of Indian restaurants in London. Expect a menu of classic Indian foods, such as dhokla and naan, but prepared with a unique twist.
I went to the Talli Joe soft launch with a few friends during which a selection of dishes were being trialled.
Masala Papad – Well presented and a yummy start to the meal. Cone shaped poppadoms filled with tomato, crunchy red onion and coriander.
Dhokla salad– Steamed gram flour cake, kolrabi and nuts. This was one of my favourites of the night. I’ve had dhokla before, but not prepared in this way- the salad was a party! The flavourful and slightly sweet dressing gave the dish a fun kick.
Messy Thokku– Organic egg pickle, Andhra spices and puff roti. I won’t lie, when I first read egg pickle on the menu, I thought this sounded very strange. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this dish. It was similar to spicy scrambled eggs. The pickle flavour and spices created an intense flavour but it was not overpowering. I also enjoyed the crispy, flaky puff roti.
Lawrence Road Kulcha – Naan stuffed with cottage cheese and truffle ghee. The winner. I wish I could get my hands on this naan right now. We re-ordered this around four times (the portions are small so no judgement please) and it seemed to be a hit with the other diners. I noticed this as I nosily peaked at what other tables had ordered. I haven’t seen truffle and naan paired together before, let alone on an Indian menu, but I’m glad it finally has. Great combo.
Mirchi Baji – Inside Out – Chilli coated in mashed root vegetables. This was good but probably the least memorable dish. Quite spicy which overpowers the flavours from the root vegetables.
Black gajar halwa – heritage black carrot and salted peanut crunch. This is a take on a classic Indian carrot halwa dessert. We all really enjoyed this, even my friend with a very selective sweet tooth.
Berry Malai – baked yoghurt, seasonal berries. This was tasty and similar to the classic Indian dessert shrikand. I’m a big shrikand fan so this was a good sweet ending for me.
Reservations: Can book online via ResDiary
Location: Shaftesbury Avenue
Perfect for: A lunch or dinner catch up with friends/family