Food – *****
Ambience – ****
Off the beaten track, located on Orange Street in Soho, just off Leicester Square, Salt ‘N’ Pepper which opened in September 2013 brings the taste of Pakistan to the streets of London. I had researched the chain a little before and found out they had restaurants all over the world – Pakistan, Mumbai and Bahrain being a few.
We were greeted by a friendly waitress who showed us to our table and asked us if we wanted poppadum’s. Shortly after we were bought them, they were traditional Pappad style poppadum’s in the shape of a cone rather than the ubiquitous round, almost plastic, poppadum’s you get in most run of the mill Indian restaurants these days. These were served with mango, imli and fresh mint chutneys. The fresh mint was absolutely exquisite and I want the recipe!
The décor of Salt ‘N Pepper isn’t what you would normally associate with an Indian restaurant. It was light, spacious, clean and almost had the feel of an Italian restaurant which made myself and my guest feel extremely relaxed and at ease. This made me think that you could come here with friends, family or even on a date and you would feel completely comfortable.
There was no pressure from waiting staff to order and they were on hand to offer advice. For starters we ordered a mixed grill (consisting of Chicken tikka, Chicken Malai Boti, Lamb Chops and Lamb Seekh Kebabs) and also fried crumbed paneer. For wine we ordered two glasses of Argentinian Malbec. We waited around 10 minutes for our food and when it arrived we were very excited! The chicken tikka wasn’t too spicy and left a beautiful aftertaste – it was perfectly cooked and this was my favourite of the meal. Both the lamb kebabs and chops were spicy, succulent and beautifully flavoured. The yoghurt and mint chutney wasn’t a watery sauce as you get in some restaurants but as you would make at home – thick and creamy. The paneer was something unusual – it had been coated in breadcrumbs and then fried, I personally felt it needed some more seasoning – however my guest loved it.
For our mains we ordered Chicken Karahi, Masala Fish, Plain Rice, Dhania and Chilli Naan, Cucumber and Tomato Raita. The portions were very generous, especially the rice and each dish (apart from the masala fish which I thought had too much batter) was superb. What I thought was great was that you could actually see the ingredients in the sauces and they hadn’t just been battered and blended to make one basic sauce. The chicken karahi was one of the best I have ever tasted and I could’ve eaten it all night. The naan was soft, almost fragile and melt in your mouth. The rice was light and airy. The cucumber and tomato raita completed the meal. The spice levels were just so that they would appeal to all taste buds.
We finished off the meal with a mango lassi and matka kulfi (you can take the matka home!) and it was the perfect ending to the perfect meal. We got talking to the owner Max Paswal who is a chef himself and I may even be running a competition in Priya’s Pantry in conjunction with Salt ‘N’ Pepper so watch this space. Max has set up a number of other restaurants in the same chain and told us his chefs work together from India and Pakistan so I felt a great sense of unity.
Overall I found the restaurant to be warm, wholesome, innovative and exciting. Whether it was the diners of the waiting staff, everyone seemed to have a smile on their faces and I have no hesitation in saying that I will be returning to Salt ‘N’ Pepper again in the near future. A meal for two with starters and main with wine costs around £40-50.
Priya Mulji x