Carom, an Indian Haven in Soho:
From Wardour Street, Carom is a striking and attractive venue, with bright fabric hangings across the ceiling, soft sofas and a large chandelier.
Inside, on a wet spring day, it looks a little worn around the edges, but this is really a night time venue and it does feel a bit as if you’ve walked into a nightclub at the wrong time . I suspect any scuff marks and scratches disappear once the lighting is changed in the evening. We arrived for lunch and cocktails and were greeted warmly. Right now, the lunch menu at Carom is quite restricted – three wraps, three variations on the curry of the day and meat, chicken or vegetarian carom lunch boxes. But, it was quiet and the manager told us the menu was simply a reflection of the fact that it hasn’t offered lunch at all until recently. With the exception of the lunchboxes, the menu is available as a takeaway too, and at around £5 a dish would make a great alternative to a sandwich!
Apart from the lunch menu, Carom offers evening diners an early evening three course menu for just £11.95, with two courses for the rest of the evening at £10 or three for £15. The a la carte menu is not long but has a reasonable choice of tandoor and curry dishes. The manager told us that on Wednesday evenings the atmosphere was relaxed, with a sitar player providing live music, while there is a more upbeat sound system later in the week.
I rather like the idea of quality over quantity. Not that our portion size was in any way small, by that I mean focussing on a few dishes rather than offering infinite variety and ensuring that everything that you serve is good quality. If you wanted to be picky about Carom, you might note that putting poppadam in with hot rice results in soggy poppadam and hot naan over salad has the effect of part cooking the salad. While the lunch boxes were very pretty, I am not sure that they were the most functional way of serving some of the items included. But, for me at least, the chicken curry was excellent – hot and spicy without being overpowering. And, I am inclined to believe the menu claim that the rice is ‘the finest 3 year old AA Basmati’ because it was rich, nutty and flavoured.
Our cocktails were a joy. We were, with the encouragement of the manager, just a little indulgent. We’d already ordered an almond and peach bellini – and he insisted we tried the house passion fruit cocktail, which was very pretty and suited my sweet tooth!
At the recommendation of the manager we are planning to revisit in the evening. Meanwhile, if you happen to fancy a lunchtime curry, well, Carom isn’t a bad option!
Disclosure – we dined as guests of the restaurant