By Joy McKay.
There has been so much hype about this restaurant it had genuinely made me suspicious, but with 30% off for Veganuary it seemed worth a try. Késarum is an 100% vegan, modern Indian restaurant providing a seasonal menu with many locally sourced ingredients.
Situated on what’s now called the QE2 mile on the High Street it’s easy to miss. Inside the decor balances the crisp attention to detail you’d expect from fine dining, with the ad hoc cosiness of a small business and combined with the soft lighting this is a place it’s easy to feel comfortable in.
You probably won’t recognise the items on the menu, but they are described in such exquisite detail it doesn’t matter at all. This includes pronunciation, main ingredients, heat, key flavours and even a little history for each dish. We started with some tasty spicy popped lotus seeds to nibble on whilst studying the available dishes in the current winter menu.
I chose to start with Khandvi, a pasta like roll made with chickpea, a piped cranberry cream cheese, picked beetroot and a coconut foam followed by KheKada, a ‘crab cake’ made of lion’s mane mushrooms in a rich creamy curry sauce. Whilst my partner had Dabeli, a filled steamed bun served with rosemary butter followed by Laal Maas, a very realistic looking and tasting lamb shank (complete with wooden ‘bone’) in a thick spicy gravy served with beetroot poori and a variety of condiments.
Our meals were presented beautifully on satisfyingly interesting plates which complemented the colours and sculptural qualities of each dish, but this isn’t just pretty plates of food… it is also delicious.
All of our dishes were perfectly balanced and served with a variety of cooling, sweet, sour or acidic purées, relishes, sauces, and pickles selected to bring out the flavours of the main ingredients. Despite being fine dining, the portions were generous with all main courses being served with rice or bread, although there is the option to order additional sides, we didn’t need to.
Our host was delightful, managing to combine friendly with professional and attentive without being overbearing. He is very obviously passionate about, and proud of, his restaurant and rightly so.
We took his recommended wine pairings for the main courses, a Portuguese Loureiro for me (I opted for white to go with the ‘seafood’) and a French Organic Syrah & Grenache Noire for my partner to accompany the lamb. Both were excellent choices; the light blossomy flavour of the Loureiro allowed me to enjoy the subtleness of my dish whilst the more robust and earthy red really complimented the stronger flavours of the Laal Maas.
I was surprised, it really did like up to the hype!
If you’ve not been before go quickly to take advantage of the Veganuary offer, but if you miss that it’s equally worthwhile without the discount so maybe go anyway – as there’s so much delicious and interesting food to try!
Késarum is open Thursday and Friday for dinner, and Saturday for both lunch and dinner. They will also be open for Valentine’s day this year. You can see the full menu on book a table at kesarum.co.uk.
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