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Review: Tsaretta Spice, Twickenham

Banish thoughts of traditional curry, Tsaretta Spice is a modern fine-dining Indian restaurant and bar in Twickenham offering imaginative and tasty food and fabulous cocktails.

THE LOWDOW

This is not your average curry house. It’s none of those things. Not average. Not a curry house. What you’ll find at this stylish restaurant in the heart of downtown Twickenham is modern Indian fine dining with a creative and imaginative choice of tapas dishes alongside an á la carte menu. There’s also a stonking cocktail menu.

THE LOCATION

Tsaretta Spice is tucked away down Church Street, Twickenham’s vibrant pedestrianised riverside restaurant quarter. Home to a host of pubs, wine bars, cafés and restaurants – with outdoor seating aplenty – there’s a cool Continental vibe going on. Tsaretta Spice sits proudly at one end opening up to a large courtyard (which is heated during the cooler months).

THE VIBE

The interiors at Tsaretta Spice are simple and stylish – a large and well-stocked bar at one end and the dining space at the other – opening out to a large courtyard which is busy and bustling on a warm summer’s evening.

The courtyard is an elegant and unfussy space, uncovered in the summer months but with a retractable roof canopy and heaters to extend the alfresco eating season.

I was there on a warm Thursday evening in June – and every outdoor table was filled, as well as one or two inside. There’s a sense of community going on too, with the occasional passing pedestrians calling out a greeting to the diners. It’s a friendly and convivial atmosphere, which extends to the restaurant staff who couldn’t be more helpful and accommodating.

SCOFF & QUAFF

Well, we started with a cocktail. How could we not? The new season’s drinks menu – or Tipsy List as it’s called – has just been released and there are lots a very tempting cocktails on offer guaranteed to leave to faltering with indecision. Should it be the Tsaretta Mai Tai? The Watermelon Mojito? The Sweet Chilli and Mango Mojito? Or perhaps the Mochatini? In the end, on the recommendation of the lovely and super helpful Aga, I went for the Gulab Martini and Mr M went for the Coconut and Lychee Colada.

Wow! As well as being gorgeous to look at it was delicious – a mix of vanilla vodka, pink gin, white créme de cacao and rose water with chia seeds – and practically good for me too with those healthy chia seeds. Mr M’s coconut colada was also impressive (and tasty, I can confirm). And both drinks packed a fair punch (in the best possible way). We also been nibbling our way through papadums with homemade chutneys.

Head chef Yousuf Mohammed honed his skills in some of the UK’s finest Indian Restaurants including Dishoom, Tamarind and Bombay Brasserie – which gives you a hint about what’s to come. He has created a menu that takes inspiration from his childhood growing up in India, as well as his later travels around the world – and its fresh, creative and imaginative.

A friend who’s already a big fan had recommended we order a selection of tapas to start, and then mains from the á la carte. Okay then, that sounded perfect.

And it was! Punjabi fish fingers, Goan spiced soft shell crab and Masala baked scallops to start – beautiful to look at, utterly divine to eat, and certain to leave you with a hankering for more.

For mains, I ordered the Meen Pollichathu – a seabass fillet wrapped in a banana leaf with shallots, curry leaves and tomatoes, and served with a seafood rice. It’s possible I had a Meg Ryan moment – because yes yes yes, it was that good.

Mr M ordered the Nellore Lamb – melt-in-the-mouth lamb cooked in a sauce of shallots, tomatoes, ginger, curry leaf and cumin. We also ordered a Malabar Paratha, and I know you might think it’s just bread. But trust me, it’s not. It was so perfectly done, I’d be happy to eat it every single day. I told Aga this, and she confided that she would frequently have the paratha on its own for her lunch.

KID-FRIENDLY?

I wouldn’t have any problem bringing children – although the food is certainly in the realm of fine dining, there’s a friendly and relaxed vibe so they won’t feel out of place. Although there’s not a children’s menu, the tapas gives you the option to choose several different dishes.

OUT & ABOUT

It’s just a short hop and a skip to the Thames and a bunch of pretty riverside walks, and Marble Hill park and house and Orleasn House are also nearby. There’s also plenty going on in Church Street – with it’s vibrant mix of restaurants and bars, art galleries, gift shops and antiques stores.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Foodies, couples dining a deux, and get-togethers with friends, ocacasions.

Not for: If it’s a bog standard curry you’re after, this isn’t that. Tsaretta Spice is high-end cooking.

The damage: Cocktails are are around £10 each. Tapas dishes are around £6-7 each, the à la carte starters are £7, mains are from £15-£20, desserts are £3.50-£5.50.

Tsaretta Spice, 55 Church Street Twickenham TW1 3NR

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