The thing with Indian restaurants in The Smoke is that if one wants super authentic stuff without a whopper of a price tag, one would most likely find themselves in a comfortable, no frills kinda establishment.
With Thali on Old Brompton Road, there’s a definite feel of fine dining about the place. Its décor balances trendy bare brickwork and framed Indian film posters with crisp white table cloths and attentive, friendly service.
Each starter is impeccably presented. Lasooni chicken tikka is cooked in green chillies and garlic and served with keen mustard. It is waltzed out of the kitchen on black slate, accompanied by a colourful ball of shredded beetroot and carrot.
Although a real lover of lamb in Indian cuisine, I am always apprehensive about ordering it due to the fatty factor. Pushing my doubts aside we went for the lamb chops with masala spices, green cardamom, cloves, lime and yoghurt. This turned out to be a really good move as the meat was beautifully tender.
The third starter, palak chaat, was a real highlight and something that Ali, our waiter, recommended. This is a crunchy spinach dish with chopped mint leaves and is served cold with sweetened yoghurt and tamarind chutney drizzled over the top. It’s a really light, fresh starter and sits well alongside the more heavily spiced ones. If all spinach was served like this, Popeye would have way more competition from muscle men vying for Olive’s affections.
On to the main course and to the namesake of the restaurant. A thali is a collection of small portions of various dishes. Arguably, Thali would say they specialise in north Indian grub but they have adopted this typically south Indian way of plating up a meal with pizzazz.
I opted for a seafood thali which arrived on a round silver tray, with six small bowls around the edge and a portion of rice. Calamari acted as my (fourth!) starter, there are three curries, and a good old dollop of cooling raita.
The goan fish curry is light and coconutty as expected. The cod is deliciously flaky and has been matured in spicy kashmiri chillies and spicy masala with fenugreek leaves. The pot of king prawn masala is unlike any I’ve tasted before. The prawns are enormous and their sauce is packed full of flavour. The platter is topped off with gulab jamun, a ball of spongy, syrupy excellence.
Thali serves an excellent range of dishes aside from seafood, veg and none veg thalis. At a very reasonable £17-19 per thali, I’d recommend plumping for one due to the brilliant variety.
166 Old Brompton Road
Tel: 020 7373 2626