Review by: Sarah Philpott (via Twitter)
I should confess all now. Just like I’ve never had a doner kebab or a Pot Noodle, I’ve never really been for a curry. It was only a few of weeks ago when celebrating a friend’s birthday that I did what people across the UK do every weekend. I went for an Indian.
Purple Poppadom opened on Cowbridge Road earlier this year and has received nothing but rave reviews ever since. The fact that it’s hidden away above the rather scarily named Sizzle and Grill has done its reputation no harm at all, showing that word of mouth is an asset to Cardiff eateries. Testament to this is the recent news that the restaurant is now Welsh Curry House of the Year.
Arriving early on a Saturday evening, the restaurant was already filling up as customers relaxed in this tranquil setting – think leather and dim lighting which is stylish, not sleazy. The waiters here are friendly but professionally poised, ready to meet your every need.
We’d decided to push the boat out so went for three courses. The Chicken Connoisseur was a wise choice, meaning that I could sample a trio of tender chicken morsels, flavoured with different herbs and spices. The cardamom and mace seasoning was particularly good.
Our birthday boy, (possibly pre-empting the night of drinking ahead) went for the Bouef à Trois, consisting of mini pie, samosa and kebab. Our other friend chose the scallops, which were delicately infused with garlic, ginger and coconut milk.
It was only after wolfing these down that someone commented that we hadn’t offered each other a taste. We can be a bit greedy but the portions were a bit on the small side, and I was particularly hungry on this occasion.
The mains were much more substantial and we happily helped ourselves from the various plates. The Raan Akbari is head chef Anand George’s signature dish and definitely worth a try. A generously sized lamb shank with butternut squash mash and beetroot shavings accompanied by an ice cold mint sorbet and a curry sauce, works so well that you wonder why no one has done this before.
The other meals were a simpler affair but equally as robust. The Seabass Pollichathu was marinated in a shallot and garlic massala sauce, wrapped in a banana leaf and served with a fluffy prawn risotto. The Tandoori King Prawns, a trio of prawn dishes, including the aforementioned risotto, was light but full of flavour.
Sated but not stuffed, all three of us had the Chocomosa Anand with a side espresso to round things off. This light pastry parcel filled with chocolate ganache, topped with caramelised banana and served with vanilla ice cream, was the perfect pudding.
With a few beers thrown in, the cost of the meal came to about £35 a head. You’ll probably come to Purple Poppadom for a treat rather than every Saturday night, but for the quality of the ingredients – and the cooking – you certainly get value for money.
This is modern Indian cuisine which suits all palates, being neither too rich or spicy. We left without the usual post-curry bloat, ready to face the night ahead.