No need for takeaway @ Caraway, Romford

05 Aug 2017

Believe it or not, Essex girls don’t bathe in fake tan (we apply with expert precision), we don’t wear stilettos (well, maybe on occasion, but only when standing still), we don’t cake on the makeup, (everyone cakes on the makeup now, and at least the majority of us lot have qualifications to say we can do so at a professional level), and we do know where England is on the map - it’s right above Ibiza.

Perhaps that’s why then, that the new Caraway Lounge has planted itself in Romford, Essex. Less competition (if any at all), cheaper rent and wonderfully accessible for those of us who will happily eat our way into our overdrafts. (We’re also amongst those you spot drinking rosé alfresco on a Monday night.) Well done, Caraway Lounge, I think you’re onto something good.

As soon as you’re parked up off road and walking past the cute outdoor terrace adorned with festoon lights, you feel distanced from the RM postcode. They’ve gone to such great lengths to transport you away from your generic local Indian takeaway and plonk you somewhere far more exotic. We went on a horribly hot day and although the windows & doors were open and you could hear the odd police siren and pierced car exhaust, it was comforting, and passing dishes promised excellent grub.

We asked the advice of our waiter, as choosing Indian food from a menu on which chicken tikka masala was nowhere in sight stumped us a little, and he was not only accommodating but he was right on the money. The Meen Pollichathu, fresh tilapia wrapped in banana leaf and flavoured with coconut, onions and chillies, set the bar for the rest of the meal. So rich in flavour and completely coated in spice, yet in no way dry, I won the starter round – but that isn’t to say that the Kurkuri Exotic Vegetables (those exotic vegetables being asparagus) were not also rather tasty.

For mains, again on our waiter’s recommendation, I took a stab at making a dent in what must have been shanks of several lambs, slowly simmered amongst their own delicious juices. We paired it with garlic naan which was all the additional flavour it needed, and of course the doughy bread did a beautiful job of soaking up forgotten sauce. The Lamb Shank Hydrabadi was large, but also one we couldn’t leave behind. We boxed it and kept it for breakfast.

Chicken Chettinadu is a famous Tamil Curry (apparently) and is made with just curry leaves and coconut. It was incredibly simple, yet so comforting and moreish. We drank the sauce like soup.

You don’t need sides, but I’d recommend ordering them just to make the comparison between Caraway Lounge and your local Indian even more obvious. I feel out of order on my regular takeaway when I say this (particularly because I’m probably over-zealous when dropping in on a Friday night), but Caraway Lounge offers by far the best Ruby in Essex. It’s deliciously different to the ridiculous red curries, sploshes of which you might find in your handbag on a Saturday morning, and it’s just such a wonderful hidden gem to stumble across in an area that is still very much in its ‘up and coming’ stage. Please, please pay them a visit.

Sophie

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