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Have you ever been to India? I haven’t (yet). But it’s right at the top of my agenda. Everything about India inspires and intrigues me, and the food is no exception. So, when we were invited to enjoy an evening at the new casual Indian dining concept, Sholay Indian Kitchen, I was beyond excited to get my mitts on some Indian street food with a twist.
The restaurant experience
Housed in a unique converted shipping container in Bristol’s up-and-coming Cargo 2, Whapping Wharf area, Sholay has a distinctly independent vibe. The intimate, communal-style dining and the wall murals featuring quotes and illustrations from iconic Bollywood film, Sholay, after which the restaurant was named, means you’re instantly hit with a feast for the senses.
Add to that an open kitchen where you can watch the chefs spinning up each individual masterpiece with expert precision and you have a truly immersive experience you’re not likely to forget in a hurry.
If you think you’re an expert in Indian food, think again; this is Indian food like you’ve never tried it before! Taking authentic dishes such as Chaat and Pav Bhaji, Sholay have put their own twist on each dish, making it near on impossible to decide what to order. Fear not though – the staff are always on hand to offer advice and recommendations on which dishes to sample. And that goes for the cocktails too!
Keeping it simple, and affordable, the menu consists of a variety of small plates, which serve as starters or tapas dishes, a choice of seven large plates, side dishes and traditional Indian desserts. As a side note, all ingredients are fresh and locally-sourced with some organic ingredients also added to the mix.
On advice from the manager, Chueng, we opted for the Sholay Chaat, Chilli Paneer, Tamarind Chicken and Peshwari Lamb Cutlets to start, with mains of Masala Dosa and Grilled Lamb Kebab to follow. Maybe we were a tad over-ambitious, but we were hungry and eager to sample as much as possible!
This blog post has been incredibly easy to write because every single dish we ordered was presented beautifully and cooked to perfection. Each creation left an explosion of diverse flavour on the palate as we hopped from one mouth-watering plate to another. My personal favourites? It’s tough to decide but I’d have to say the Sholay Chaat, Chilli Paneer and Grilled Lamb Kebab – I’ve never tasted lamb so tender and full of flavour.
I must admit, after over-indulging slightly, I was feeling rather full. But not too full to miss out on some delicious Indian Kulfi. With four fabulous flavours to choose from, we decided to go for the Malai (Indian cream) and the Mango, and I have to say it was the perfect end to an already perfect meal.
As the icing on the cake, Sholay Indian Kitchen offers a small but diverse range of cocktails. From the mojito to the martini, you’ll find a variety of classics each with a special Sholay twist.
I enjoyed The Saffron, made with gin, triple sec, saffron strands, egg white and lemon juice, and the refreshing Sholay Mojito, consisting of Blackwell Jamaican rum, passion fruit, lime, mint and sugar syrup. Both cocktails were fantastic – but then again anything that contains passion fruit is always going to be a winner for me!
At the time of writing this review, Sholay Indian Kitchen has been open for less than a year and is already receiving rave reviews. The eatery was extremely busy during our visit, but that only added to the buzzy atmosphere and intimate feel. The staff were very attentive and helpful throughout our meal, despite having a large party of diners to care for, and their passion for the exceptional menu and fresh, local ingredients really shone through.
We’ll definitely be heading back to Sholay Indian Kitchen very soon to try more of their incredible food and I hope you do too! I promise you won’t be disappointed.