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Namaste Kerala, Southampton
LOCATED smack in the centre of Southampton, Namaste Kerala could hardly be described as being off the beaten track.
But the fact that it’s located on the first floor, and is accessed by a flight of stairs from street level, does give it the feeling of being a hidden gem.
It also has the advantage of meaning that revellers on their way to or from a night on the town can’t gawp at you as you spill pickles off your poppadom, which is a definite bonus.
The restaurant is subtlety and tastefully decorated and the service has always been very good whenever I’ve visited – this occasion being no exception.
Namaste Kerala specialises in the cuisine of Kerala and the rest of southern India. As well as familiar items from a typical Indian menu it offers some unusual treats.
We started the way I’ve started every Indian meal I’ve ever had – with poppadoms – which came with some tasty and unusual chutneys.
I then went on to the delicious parippu soup – a blend of lentils, garlic, onion and black pepper.
It had quite a strong flavour without being overpowering and was very satisfying.
My boyfriend started his meal with chicken tikka – diced chicken breast marinated in yoghurt and spices and grilled on charcoal. It was tasty and succulent, proving a good choice.
As a vegan, I found plenty of dishes to choose from on the extensive menu, and the staff were also able to help me with my choices – for instance replacing non-vegan chutneys with vegan ones.
I opted for pachakkari koottan for my main - green plantain, carrot and potato cooked with ginger, garlic, spices & coconut milk, seasoned with curry leaves.
This was very tasty but the star of the meal for me was the dish we shared – vazhudanaga curry.
This slightly spicy aubergine dish was succulent and almost sweet without being too rich.
My boyfriend continued his chicken theme with a chicken tikka bhoona, prepared with generous helpings of garlic, ginger, onion and tomato.
It was moist and delicious and came with plenty of sauce.
Our meal for two with a couple of drinks came to just over £30.
It was a good deal, particularly as the combination of the location, the service and the food makes a trip to Namaste Kerala feel like something a bit special.
Namaste Kerala is at 4a Civic Centre Road, Southampton. Tel: 023 8022 4422.