What better way to start a blog about curry in Bristol than with possibly one of the most upmarket Indian restaurants in the city!
The Mint Room in Clifton has been open for just nine weeks. It’s taken the place of The Muset (which closed a couple of years ago), a firm favourite of my family, tucked away on Clifton Road. So when the fam and I visited on Saturday evening (I wasn’t with Chaz this time!), I must be honest we went in with a bit of an attitude of ‘this had better be good’!
This place is definitely billing itself as being far from your average Indian eatery, and with choices like quail three ways for a starter and seafood moilee for a main, that description seems pretty accurate.
It’s an interesting place. The building seems to engulf somebody’s house for a start! Inside the restaurant offers a bar/lounge area (not something I’ve personally seen in many Indian restaurants), with its own bar snacks menu (with some pretty fancy choices!) which you can enjoy before heading to your actual table. A nice opener.
In terms of the food, there were a number of stand-outs. The highlight was the chicken biryani. Our waiter made a point of telling us ‘this is how it should be done’, presenting it in a usual Indian serving bowl (I think it’s called a Balti dish?) but with bread over the top, sealing in the heat! He proceeded to cut the bread with a knife to reveal the yummy contents and amazing aromas – It’s always nice to be presented food with a flourish! It was yum too – plus we thought the price (£12) was pretty reasonable for what was a pretty sizable meal – so top marks all round for that one.
Whistle-stop tour of the other dishes on our table: a very subtle, really tasty halibut dish with crab and an incredible carrot purée, seafood moilee with a slightly curried sauce and offerings of octopus, muscles and more, and a lamb dish (Chettinad) with a lovely pepper crust – all three courses around the £15 mark. The peshwari naan was deliciously sweet and the side dish of Jeera Aloo was another triumph of flavours. The main dishes and sides were definite high scorers. They weren’t measly small portions and the experience didn’t leave you craving your typical chicken jalfrezi or lamb madras.
We were slightly less bowled over by the starters – some very nice flavours again, but we weren’t convinced by the near £8 price tag for the lamb tikka, the chicken tikka and the quail-three-ways dishes. These were undeniably different from your usual curry house starters (I’ve not seen quail on an Indian menu in Bristol until now) – they had more subtle flavours to offer and the plates were presented really nicely. Buuut were they special enough to command that price? Personally, we weren’t 100% sure.
- The Mint Room seems to fill a bit of a niche in Bristol’s curry scene – people who want a good curry AND a ‘fine dining’ experience should deffo try it out. It’s not just a nice, modern restaurant – it does actually provide ‘curry with a twist’
- Try and have at least one fish dish! They seem to be making a good amount of room on their menu for fish, crab and seafood – expanding on the usual King Prawn offering on Indian menus – and the fish dishes we went for definitely went down well
- Leave room for side dishes! If the rest of the sides are anything like the Jeera Aloo, you should make space for them on the table
- If I went again, I’d go for main course and dessert, not starter and main. Chaz and I never seem to go for desserts, because wherever we go it’s literally the same menu! But The Mint Room’s desserts looked genuinely interesting and different – I’d just run out of room!
- Service was friendly and professional – good job really because we were helped by at least five different people, from greeting us at the door to handing us our coats at the end. Perhaps a little too keen?!
- White chocolate-covered whole mint leaves instead of the usual after dinner chocolate mints is a great way of doing things differently and offering a special touch – a nice ending to a pretty tasty ‘upmarket’ experience!