Tag Archives: Old Street

Indian high chai at Dhaba Lane

Dhaba Lane is a cosy, subterranean café between Shoreditch and Old Street, run by Arti and Upma, who left their existing jobs to run their own food business, focusing on the fresh, healthy Indian food they grew up eating and cooking. I joined the lovely Jason and Chiara from Goan to London on a freezing Saturday afternoon for their traditional Indian high chai, or afternoon tea.

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High tea in India is an intrinsic part of the culture, and the time when marriages are decided on, disputes settled and deals made. It’s all about several rounds of sweet and savoury morsels, and of course the tea itself.  Now I’ll confess, I don’t really like tea, but this one was deliciously sweet and full of the lovely flavours of cardamom and ginger, which completely made up for the actual tea aspect.

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The first course was several rounds of little sandwiches, including cucumber, mint and apple, spicy mixed veg and garam masala chicken. They were nice and spicy, and an interesting twist on the English varieties.

Hot bites followed, with onion and sweetcorn fritters, aloo samosas, mini uttapams (semolina pancakes) and little raw banana and pea fritters. I was dubious about the banana but it was subtle, adding texture and sweetness rather than a full-on banana taste. All these dishes were delicious, spicy and warming, and there were plenty – they just kept coming.

Sweetcorn & onion fritters
Sweetcorn & onion fritters
Banana & pea fritters
Banana & pea fritters

Sweet dishes followed, with coconut and carrot halwa (sweetened balls), saffron and cardamom shrikhand (yoghurt) and sweet, syrupy bread with cream. The balls were slightly too sweet for me ( I don’t have a sweet tooth), but the yoghurt and bread dishes were lovely.

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Sweet treats

The food just kept flowing, and I was stuffed by the end, making it really good value. The atmosphere is cosy and friendly, and they use gorgeous crockery that I loved. Definitely worth a visit for something a bit different, and I’d love to go back to try their curries.

Get your high chai tickets here and more info on Dhaba Lane here. They also do takeaway and delivery of all sorts of Indian dishes, not just high tea – try their delicious curries for a lovely winter lunch – I’ll certainly be back.

*The Indian high chai experience is £25 per person, but we were guests of Dhaba Lane.

The Mac’n’Cheese Scotch Egg at Finch’s

This dish was so good it required the whole post to be named after it. But onto that later..

Nestled between Moorgate and Old Street, Finch’s pub is relatively unassuming from the outside, but once you’re in it opens out into a tardis-like expanse of pale wood, mismatched furniture, birdcages and lots of quirky little details that make it feel like a unique oasis in a desert of chains. As it’s part of pub giant Young’s, of patterned carpets and brass handrails, this is a pretty epic achievement.

I will have to attempt to curb my enthusiasm for my starter or this will turn into a novel. Perfectly boiled runny egg, soft, creamy pasta,  and a crisp, crunchy coating equals… yes, it’s the MACARONI CHEESE SCOTCH EGG. Whilst it does admittedly hover on the edge of the deep-fried Mars bar/Oreo-filled doughnut category, it hits all my weaknesses in one cheesy go. The hot mustard is the perfect accompaniment It’s roughly the size of a head, and portioned as a starter so best to share, especially if you want to indulge in mains and dessert.

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We also had coffee-smoked salmon on toast with vanilla and caramel nuts; delicious fish, enhanced by the hint of coffee but I did question the vanilla with the salmon – Heston may have pulled it off at The Fat Duck, but something here didn’t 100% work. The salmon was delicious, lightly smokey, not greasy, cut to the perfect thickness – leave it alone I say.

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Mains were meaty, generous and delicious – tender, rare duck breast with a light orange sauce and fondant potato, and perfectly cooked steak with chunky, spot-on chips. Dessert came in the form of a chocolate salami – a rich, dark log of chocolate, biscuit and pistachios, served with chocolate sauce. We gilded the lily with salted caramel ice cream; it didn’t need it but it was lovely.

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Everything was reasonably priced, the service was attentive and friendly, the food delicious and although it was very quiet (Monday) I imagine later in the week it’s much more buzzy – overall a near-enough triumph for Young’s.

www.finchspub.co.uk

*A version of this post was first published on Foodepedia