An Indian summer


The Thali Cafe continues to be excellent, writes Sammy Milton

Thali has been something of a national treasure for some time. The company first started out as humble food truck at Glastonbury Festival, and quickly became the Thali café, opening branches in both Bristol and Oxford. 

I’ve been wanting to try out the Thali Café for ages, everyone I know loves it. And with branches in Southville, Easton, Clifton, Montpelier and Totterdown, I was spoilt for choice! Out of convenience, we went for the one based in Clifton Village, and what a pretty restaurant it is. Perched on the corner of Regent Street, the glass front shows off the impressive interior – it’s set over three levels with a stunning spiral staircase leading to the top dining area. We were extremely pleased to be seated up here, and promptly ordered two Thali gin and tonics to help us settle in (£6.00 each). 

Every single server we encountered on our visit was warm and friendly, and were all too happy to answer any questions we had about the menu. And what a lovely menu it is. Featuring snacks, starters, Thalis, grills and daily staples (sides), there’s plenty to choose from and something that will appeal to everyone.

We went with both of the ‘snacks’ to start – poppadoms and house chutneys (£1.00 and £3.00 respectively) and the pani puri (£4.00). The poppadoms were excellent and the chutneys consisted of coconut, tomato and tamarind, mango and pinapple (my personal favourite) and coriander. The pani puri (little parcels full of a spicy chickpea and potato paste) were served cold and were delicious with their coriander dipping sauce. All good so far.

For our mains we opted for the Thalis. I went for the Lucknowi Lamb (£13.00) and my partner went with Keralan Nandan chicken (£11.50), although there are also great options for vegetarians. A Thali is described as an Indian Feast, and these dishes consisted of dahl, vegetable subji, yoghurt, fresh salad, basmati rice and the meat dishes of our choice. A small banquet may have been a more appropriate term as the Thalis were a very hearty portion, not that we were complaining! Everything was cooked to perfection and was exquisite. We made our way through our plates and mopped up any stray food with a chapatti each (£1.00). As amazing as it was, we were unable to finish everything, no matter how much we wanted to. It really was very good. 

We were talked into sharing a dessert the lovely staff, and went with a Gulab Jamun (£2.50). This was a freshly baked warm donut steeped in saffron cardamom syrup, served with an optional cup of masala chai. We went without the tea (we were still enjoying our gins you see), and inhaled the donut in about five second flat. It was unlike anything I’ve ever eaten before; light and fluffy, and the accompanying syrup was so good we got caught eating the rest of it with a tea spoon. 

We left stuffed and incredibly happy. This is a wonderful place, with a wonderful menu and wonderful people. If you’re a fan of Indian food, or want to give something new a try, then make sure you look up your local Thali Café. We promise you won’t be disappointed.

The essentials

Thali Café Clifton
1 Regent Street, Clifton, Bristol BS8 4HW
0117 974 3793 

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