Strange Indian menu - seeking experts perspective!
A new Indian restaurant has opened in Liverpool, and it's good to see that it isn't the usual bog-standard British curry house menu. However, it looks to me like they are trying to do too many things - they are tarting up the food (using terms like "green pepper coulis", "chickpea gateau" and "coriander pesto", probably in an attempt to appeal to the fine dining set (or at least the people who are impressed by this kind of language); and it looks like the menu is a mix of cuisines from all over the country.
I would be interested to know what the Indian food experts on here think of the menu! And would you eat here ...?
Wow - at least their classics look OK. I think you need to take one for the team and give it a go.
I did have similar east/west fusion food in India where it is becoming popular with some - as are lots of non-indian restaurants catering for the better off. All I can say olive oil doesn't go with many indian spices....!
The first thing that struck me was the use of Norfolk Chicken, Cornish cod etc. Don't normally see this use of provenance (albeit a bit vague) on an Indian menu. Other restaurants use it so why not an Indian? It's not region specific but the Chennai/Chettinad/ items and use of coconut and tamarind makes me suspect the chef's from that region but wanted to appeal to as broad a clientele as possible. If you look at his bio he's worked with Raymond Blanc so might explain some of his techniques. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I'd give it a go but the wine list doesn't appear to have been given a great deal of thought in terms of pairing with the food.
The provenance thing is funny though - they claim that they locally source their ingredients and meat produce, but I'd hardly call Norfolk and Cornwall as local to Liverpool ...
I think his reference to working with Raymond Bland is hilarious - especially in the context of a chef from India working with someone expert in French and British cuisine! I wonder if Raymond would consider that this version of his surname could damage his brand ...?
Maybe in this country, menus should just say 'fresh' ingredients or 'British.' When all products can be at a restaurant in a day's time, I'm beginning to think of everything as 'local.'
I think I might understand what's going on. As we know, there's a growing move away from the "any protein with any sauce" curry house menu. Some of that is moving towards more regional food. Some is moving, like this one, to a more fusiony style. In this, there's differing levels of provenance claiming - let's face it, when did you last go into a British restaurant, regardless of cuisine, and see duck that wasn't Gressingham.
The menu is very similar in style to the Ambrette at Rye (http://www.theambrette.co.uk/home/rye...) so, assuming the restaurant experience is also similar, you're going to find a westerised ambiance, service style and plating. Ambrette generally gets good reviews - we were less than keen (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9082...)
I reckon Yukti could be an interesting experience but I'll be happy for Theresa to be the pathfinder before I have an hour's schlep down the M62.
One regretfully skeptical vote.
I'm Indian and have been to a number of restaurants in the US attempting similar fusion menus. As much as I want to love them and to support Indian chefs trying to do something new, they are almost always a disappointment.
I think it's terribly difficult to pull something like this off. It takes a really inspired and skilled chef who is confident and highly experienced in both Indian and Western cooking, and he or she has to be able to assemble and manage a kitchen team who are also confident and experienced in both. Since all this usually costs more than the pick-a-protein+pick-a-sauce approach Harters talks about, you need to live in a place with a large population of adventurous eaters who are ready and able to spend more on food and flavors they're probably used to getting fairly cheaply. Then those people have to want to regularly pick your place over all the other exciting options places with that sort of diner usually have.
Given all this, along with the sad, crazy typos, grandiose claims and general awkwardness of their website, my expectations for Yukti -- The Art Kitchen aren't high.
I hope I'm wrong, though.
Lots of good advice here. I have the same reservations as most of you - it could be really grim. And Ninm - the mad typos are probably a good indication of the quality (or lack of...).
Phil and Harters - you're right - I think I need to take one for the team. And, of course, for Raymond Bland ...
re: helen b
I'm sure you can't PM through Chowhound.
However, if you both wish to get in touch, I'm happy to help. My email address is in my profile. If you both contact me (put Chowhound in the title), I can pass on your address to the other. Only works if you're both happy with this.
We finally tried Yukti's last night - but went for a takeaway rather than eating in.
It's in Old Swan, and the place itself is strange - a big modern building with a large car park (for a restaurant anyway) attached. The building is divided into three - a shop (we didn't investigate that at all), a functions 'wing' and the restaurant in the middle. When we arrived there were quite a few young Asians outside - mostly on their way in to the function suite. It doesn't necessarily mean anything food quality-wise, but there isn't a large Indian/Pakistani population in Liverpool - especially not in Old Swan - so we thought this could be a good sign. Inside the restaurant there were about 50/50 white and Asian people eating.
It's smart inside, without being too shiny (which seems to be a trend these days). There was music, but it was quiet, and, when we were there, jazz was playing.
Now for the food. My summary is that it was quite good and I would go back again to explore the menu a bit more.
Starters were Welsh lamb fillet - very tender (although not pink, as I had hoped fillet would be served) and quite spicy (as in hot), but no sign of the advertised pomegranate yoghurt dressing. Potato and onion bhaji were nice enough. Accompanying dressings/dips (yogurt and mint, tamarind one and a mild chilli one) were ok, but not special.
Mains were Goan fish - this was pretty good, with a light coconut-based sauce and nicely cooked cod. I was impressed that despite it being a takeaway (and therefore having to survive a drive home of a few miles and sitting in the oven while we ate our starters) it was still not over cooked when we ate it.
The Lamb bhuna was ok - the lamb again was meltingly tender and the sauce was a good and thick, clinging to the meat. It did taste a bit too much of cloves, and almost over-spiced generally (I'm not talking about being too hot though). Maybe the sauce had been reduced down too much?
The pulao rice was decent - none of the bright reds and oranges you get in many places. The breads just ok.
There's no doubt it's better than your average British curry-house, and the lamb and fish had been cooked perfectly in the main courses. But I'm not sure of Indian "fine dining" - I really enjoy a more home-cooking style - so I want to try more things on the menu before I give a more definitive opinion.
The bill at £32 was reasonable, as we got 25% discount. I don't know if this was because it was takeaway, or if it was a special offer for all customers.
Even though Liverpool-based Chowhounds are a bit thin on the ground, I would love to hear what others think.