Last Updated on December 11, 2020 by Fiona Maclean
Hot stuff in Holborn
The Georgian back streets of Holborn are home to many hidden gems. Round the corner from the normally vibrant Lambs Conduit Street and the Dickens Museum on Doughty Street is an Indian restaurant that is well worth a detour. Salaam Namaste was our destination, tucked away in a typical Bloomsbury terrace.
Serious thought has been given to making this restaurant compliant with COVID-19 regulations, while still giving diners a warm welcome. There is a small heated terrace with outdoor seating, ideal for eating out with friends under Tier 2 rules. Indoors is kept well ventilated with good spacing between tables.
Salaam Namaste offers diners the choice of trying out unusual dishes and flavour combinations or sticking to well-made classics. Ingredients that you don’t often find in a local curry house, such as venison and soft-shell crab, are among the intriguing offerings here. While studying the long menu, we polished off a basket of moreish popadoms with tomato, mango and mint pickles.
Our bottle of Amori Pinot Grigio was a perfect match for our mix of dishes. Crisp, fresh and citrussy, it was served well chilled. For those who prefer beer with their curry, Salaam Namaste offers Cobra on draft. There is also a tempting range of cocktails and mocktails.
For our starters, we took our helpful waiter’s advice and shared the lamb chops and the scallops. The coastal Malabar scallops were a revelation. I don’t remember having scallops in a curry sauce before but this was a delicious combination that I will definitely try again. Crusted with cumin and pan-fried to perfection, the scallops were served in a coconut, mustard seed and curry leaf sauce that, while full of flavour, didn’t overpower the delicate seafood.
Amritsari Champen is Salaam Namaste’s take on the classic lamb starter found in many Indian restaurants. The cutlets were dainty in size but big on flavour having been marinated in ginger and spices. An added bonus, they were served with one of my favourite comfort foods from any cuisine – South Indian-style crushed potatoes.
For mains, we opted to share chicken and paneer dishes. My companion, who could probably live on chicken tikka shashlik and considers herself a bit of an expert, raved about Salaam Namaste’s version. She declared it the nicest she’d had in a very long time. Here it is served still sizzling with charred red peppers, red onions and tomatoes. This big portion of full-flavoured, tender chicken was more than enough for two to share.
Our other main course was the Amritsari paneer tikka lababdar – chunks of cheese doused in a rich, spicy sauce made with fresh tomatoes, fresh cream, onions and red peppers. We mopped up the lovely sauce with a particularly good Peshwari naan bread, stuffed with coconut and almonds and studded with sesame seeds.
Taking our waiter’s good advice once again, I went for the restaurant’s special dessert, the gajrela and coconut ice cream. Described as an Indian carrot fudge, the gajrela was dotted with juicy sultanas and scattered with crushed pistachio. The gajrela itself had a surprising slightly savoury flavour and was well balanced by the sugar hit from the smooth coconut ice cream.
My companion was very taken with her white chocolate and passion fruit cheesecake. The sharp fruit jelly on top offset the white chocolatey sweetness below.
With its winning combination of charming service and fine cooking, Salaam Namaste comes highly recommended.
68 Millman St, Holborn, London WC1N 3EF
Salaam Namaste is the sister restaurant of Namaste Kitchen in Camden. We love it there too – so do check our earlier review