After my initial booking at Zeen was cancelled due to fire (in the area, not the restaurant itself), my sister and I rescheduled, when instead we had to path-find our way there through a blizzard. Euston’s Drummond Street is known for its Indian restaurants. Located in a ’70s-style, orange-lit basement, the tube rumbling beneath you as you eat, Zeen is a fusion experience: Cockney Bombay.
To begin, mini fresh-fried spicy poppadoms and mango chutney accompanied two Margarita cocktails. For starters we ate Dahi Batata Puri: crispy fried puri shells covered with wheat vermicelli, from which, on stabbing with your fork, tumbled sweet yoghurt, streaked through with a tamarind and coriander sauce. It is an unusual replacement for the standard yoghurt Raitha. The restaurant’s owner, Zeenat, said this dish is ‘street food’ in India. I’m a huge fan of street food everywhere, and it was refreshing to see this dish brought indoors.
Other tempting starters included: soft-shell crab with a creamy rich tomato and garlic butter sauce; and chilli Paneer: cubes of Indian cheese mixed with stir-fried Mediterranean vegetables and a slick of tangy purée.
Presentation was modern and colourful, with fresh herbs. Flavours, thankfully, were noticably separate, unlike many Indian eateries where you get the feeling there is a huge vat of Brown Sauce in the kitchen which they ladle over every dish.
For mains I chose the thali platter: fantastically creamy nutmeg Saag Paneer (spinach and cheese), Kathe Meethe Aloo (tangy, rich Bombay-style potatoes), Tadka dahl (smooth yellow lentils topped with a wickedly calorific dribble of Ghee butter), pilau rice (perfumed with golden saffron strands), mini pappadoms, chutney and freshly made naan bread.
My sister chose an unusual dish which would best be described as an Indian version of haggis; the chef’s special Tandoori stuffed squid. The stuffing inside the tiny bodies was subtly spicy and fishy – the taste of squid perhaps overwhelmed – but, all importantly with squid, it wasn’t rubbery.
We accompanied these dishes with a glass each of light and fruity house white (£2.75 ). In general the drinks prices were reasonable: £30 for a bottle of Champagne for instance, or £9.95 a bottle for house red or white wine.
Desserts were less successful: the Rassomalai with cardamom and pistachio flavoured milk cakes was grainy in texture and seemed a little dry, while the Falooda, a rose hued and flavoured ‘Indian sundae’, was good but not mind-blowing. But the salt and mango lassis were fresh with just the right degree of sour – almost goat cheesy in flavour, and the best I have had outside of India.
130 Drummond Street
Tel: 0207 387 0606