Helen and I love Indian food. The East India Café is one of our favourite places to eat and as we were invited by friends over to Bhoomi on Suffolk Road we thought we’d give it a go.
The restaurant itself seems quite small from the front, but it is quite deep and has a number of different sections where people can eat. We arrived, our coats were taken and we followed the host to our table at the back of the restaurant. Due to the type of evening we were having it didn’t feel right to take photos, so the main image here is from the Bhoomi website.
We ordered some drinks and all decided pretty quickly it would be best if we went with the tasting menu so we could try their ultimate dishes. We were told the tasting menu is designed to be eaten slowly and could take two to three ours – which obviously we were fine with. It’s what a tasting menu is for, to relax and enjoy the food and company.
Our first dish was the amuse bouche. It was a mini Kilner jar with a delicious spiced chickpea concoction inside with a touch of yogurt (if I remember rightly) and filled with smoke. The smooth sauce and smokiness was great although don’t open it up and put your nose straight in!
The first course was the Chilli Panner. It was an Indian cheese with peppers, chillies, sweet corn and a chutney. I’ve never had this cheese before but I really liked it. We were given a few blocks across the plate with the accompaniments delicately placed around and on top. The cheese was warm but didn’t seem to have melted, it reminded me of a mixture of mozzarella for the texture and halloumi for the fact it didn’t melt.
Next up, the Pork Dosa. This is a local pork tenderloin with a crisp ground rice crepe and coconut chuntey. This course was fantastic. I loved the meat being inside a slightly sweet, crispy crepe that went with the pork perfectly. This may have been my favourite course.
The Kappa & Mean was next. This is a sea bass fillet served with cassava mash, tamarind, chilli and a pepper jus. The sea bass was nicely cooked with a crisp skin and soft flaky, perfectly cooked flesh.
At this point we’re over halfway through and are on a second bottle of wine between 4 (after a couple of drinks to start with before arriving and a G&T to start the evening). The night is going well, the company we had was great, the service was fantastic, both subtle and accommodating at the same time – a hard thing to get right.
Next up is the main course, the Duck Chettinad. The duck comes on a pepper, star anise, coconut, tomato and chilli reduction served with rice. The duck itself is perfect. It was slightly pink, soft, juicy and moreish. It’s a shame that you don’t get more duck, but at the same time being a tasting menu it was probably the correct amount for the experience.
The sauce went with is very well however there was possibly a little too much as it took away from the duck when mixed together with the rice. I didn’t get the star anise in the sauce but it doesn’t mean it didn’t add to the dish. It’s a near perfect serving of an Indian style duck that was the closest to a traditional curry we got on the tasting menu – again I wasn’t expecting traditional British curry so this isn’t a criticism at all.
Lastly we had the Gulab Jamon, a saffron infused dumpling with raspberry coulis, pistachios and vanilla ice cream. This mini golf-balled sized dumpling was really nice and a perfect finish to the meal. We decided against coffee in the end as it was both late and we’d had quite a bit to drink by this point – the last thing I wanted was a caffeine hit at 11pm.
By the end of the meal we’d be in the restaurant for 4 hours. It didn’t feel like this at all. The food came out at a nice pace overall and was a great experience. The tasting menu price is currently (November 2016) £39.50 per person and everyone on the table has to go for this. We didn’t go for the wine flight for £35.50 as instead we got our own choice of wine.
Overall I loved Bhoomi, it’s fine Indian cuisine as it’s best. It does have a different atmosphere to East India Café as that is probably slightly more relaxed. I have to say I think I prefer the East India Café but it’s purely personal as Helen and I went there when they first opened and we have a real connection to it. I feel like I’ve grown with them.
But this is nothing against Bhoomi, it’s a fantastic Indian restaurant in Cheltenham. We’re becoming really spoiled for great Indian now. I’ll be coming back for another tasting menu in the new year!