THE BEGINNING – SPICED SURRENDER
Suspended in time. We ruminate what it would be like to spin the sands of time to a different era, but still retain all the same memories and faculties of modern comforts.
In, we enter.
Burrowed on the farther end of Wyndham Street, you find yourself side-stepping pedestrians to heave open a brass handle adorned forest-green door. The welcoming alcove painted British racing green, as I favour more in describing aptly, well-matched the intended décor and concept of this fine dining establishment as military jump-suited wait staff attended to the upper echelons of British colonial India.
I must admit, my timing for this culinary excursion was classically overshot. Long overdue and just past the precipice of Lent, witnessing twirling trays of seasoned sauced or charred meats whisked past our table was this year’s sacrifice. The grandeur of their tender lamb chops tested my resolve, its artful presentation and lingering earthy aroma was truly a sensual seduction. But on we simply look, as a conscious dedication to alleviate our environmental impact is always a benefit to us all. Considering all things, a personal and lasting belief of mine for any restaurant is – the limitations of your creativity is tested by your vegetarian options.
Spiced fresh cheese | Corn Raita | Beet Kachumbari
Reticent and eager, the first dish arrives front-and-centre. Described fittingly as a cheese on cheese sandwich, these tandoor-grilled squares of spiced paneer sits in-between a cream cheese and Chenna filling. As I learned, Chenna is a distinctively Indian cheese curd, a tangy and creamier version of cottage cheese. Mixed with fresh herbs and a concoction of spices, the savoury parcel balanced the fruity and smoky cheeses with the acidic crunch of their pickled adornments and a sweet surprise of pomegranate in the corn raita. Any concerned health-conscious patrons rest assured, Indian cheese is wholly nourishing to the body’s ecosystem – from your heart to your digestive system.
PALAK MUSHROOM MATTAR
Spinach | Mushroom | Green Peas
Simplicity is satisfying. And when constructed so mindfully, the intrigue of flavour is intoxicating. I will always have much room for mushroom – a statement that rings true. Serve any dish after a lengthy meal, out wanders a spoon full. A blended bed of spinach, chillies, garlic, ginger and quartered button mushrooms forms the flavourful base. Topped with diced shallots, tomatoes, fresh spinach, capers and a sprinkling of enoki mushroom heads – we have a mélange of fresh and cooked components intermingling. Almost undetectable, I enjoyed the brined bursts of capers most, rounding out the dish seamlessly. Abundant in not just seasoning, this nutrient-rich dish promotes blood circulation, cell regeneration, immune system regulation and skin health from the spinach alone. Ever wondered about the age-defying mystery to Asian skin? A staple found across all Asian kitchens, enoki mushrooms are flushed with antioxidants and vitamin B3 to support your immune system, also containing anti-aging and skin rejuvenation properties – same ingredients found in your skincare. You truly are how you eat.
Line-caught cobia | Tomato | Samphire | Wild Fennel Chutney
This spiced chickpea-battered fish was just phenomenally fintastic. And fully deserving of said pun. Coating was crisp, airy and even. By even, I refer to the spot on fish-to-coating ratio. Bite-in, your taste buds first flood with pepper and nuttiness from the batter – sinking straight into the broad-flaked buttery flesh. Cobia has a distinct fresh, soft buttery flavour with none of the dry firmness of its white-fish relatives. This renders it a versatile and sustainable fish to experiment and cook with. Remarkably, it also contains a higher amount of Omega-3 than the illustrious salmon.
Cauliflower | Green Mango Raita | Gunpowder
My misfortune and childhood suffering from bland, blanched cauliflower during mealtimes from childhood initially deterred me for years. Rooted firmly, this flawed presumption has thankfully since been tossed out. This plated explosion showcases broiled golden tandoori-spiced florets were generously heaped and tossed with diced tomatoes, red onions, capers and samphire. Three dollops of sauces accompanied these tender morsels: a tangy green mango raita, a piquant mustard dressing I assumed was the gunpowder and a sumptuous serving of their creamy cheese curds. You could not wish for a more palatable assortment of flavours. A voracious vegetarian spread, indeed.
Gregarious, upbeat and cosy – The New Punjab Club pays a regal hommage to an entire country. My only feedback would be to host a more robust selection of wine to pair with the dishes, as the acidity and citrus notes of our bottle did not enhance the evening.
THE END – A FAMILIAR AFFAIR
Nathalie’s Rating: 4.6/5