We have had a few cocktails in the stylish bar at the Mint Leaf in Piccadilly during happy hour and made a mental note to one day try the exotic food here. Another incentive was that we have a discount with our gourmet society card so win win!
Although the Mint Leaf is an Indian restaurant it is not a curry house and instead focuses on well presented dishes that have an Asian heat to them.
We had a much needed cocktail in the bar after a long day at work and then were taken to the restaurant. The restaurant is underground and although quite dark has a modern atmosphere to it. The bar has won a few awards for the amount and quality of liquors on offer and the cocktails are pretty damn good. The restaurant leads off from the bar and is quite striking. There are eight different ‘sections’ in the restaurant, which are separated by wooden slats so that diners can see to the end of the restaurant through the wooden panels. At the end of the large room is a mirror so the wooden slats and the other diners are reflected back to you, creating an optical illusion, where it is hard to determine if you are looking at a reflection or at other diners through the wooden slats.
We were seated in the first section of the restaurant and were served by a friendly eastern European waiter, who then went off to serve a gentleman sitting on his own and started a deep conversation for a good twenty minutes on the individual ingredients. Needless to say I started to get impatient and despite my close friend pleading with me to be patient to avoid spit in our food I was annoyed at this complete lack of service and made it quite clear with my body language. We were served mini popadoms with a tomato salsa while we waited and ordered a bottle of Argentinean Malbec, but they had sold out (sigh) so we went for a South African Cabernet/Malbec instead. We first ordered the seafood platter to share, which consisted of salmon tikka, tandorri prawns, crab and mackerel fish cake and spicy king fish. It was really delicious. The fish was well cooked, tender and moist. The prawns were large and juicy and the spices did not overpower the salmon. The fish cakes were a little dense for my liking but were well seasoned so overall we were left satisfied.
The waiter again took a long time to take away our dishes but must have noticed the annoyed look on my face because the main did come out at a faster speed (although this was probably due to the chefs who seemed very capable).
I ordered the Pattrani Macchli, steamed sea bass with ginger and coriander, and my friend ordered the Methi Mass, a curry made with lamb leg, caramelised onion and fenugreek. My fish was served wrapped in a banana leaf and was really well presented. It was tender and moist; perfectly cooked and the curry was mildly spiced, just enough so it had a kick but delicate enough to appreciate the individual tones of the spices. We ordered black beans and coconut rice with this. It was very filling and we struggled to finish. The food was faultless for both courses but we did have to wait a while again to get our plates removed and the bill.
Despite this oversight the food, decor and atmosphere is well thought through; stylish, minimalist yet classy. The waiter I am afraid to say probably is not in the right restaurant for his tortoise-like pace but we noticed other waiters were far more capable so next time we may be lucky. Over all Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls would like to award the Mint Leaf:
Food Atmosphere Service