Brick Lane – a mecca for curry houses. As you make your way from one end to the other, there is no shortage of smiling faces grabbing your attention with promises of the best deal, the best curry, family owned restaurants, authentic dishes and more. It is hard to make the call for the right one. I normally go for the ones requiring the least sales effort and with bums on seats, as there is nothing more off putting than an empty restaurant.
Enter tastecard London which has its fair share of Indian partners offering either 2 for 1 or 50% off food on this famous curry street. Having scanned through the tastecard reviews and our old friend Tripadvsior, the Standard Balti House stood out for our weekend lunch.
There are a couple of things which are appealing about this place. Firstly, the welcome, with friendly guys who do not give you that dreaded look when you say the word “tastecard”. All are welcome with open arms and that is certainly a bonus. The interior, whilst still ethnic, the style is quite contemporary and muted, without the garish colours and prints which can normally frequent such establishments. An international crowd made up of couples, lone diners and what appeared to be adult students from an international school also filled out the spot.
Where the menu is concerned, I have my favourites and I tend not to stray. This is bad, as I should experiment now and then. That is why it is good to have a dining partner, as they can bring the newbie dishes to the table for reviews such as these. All your favourite dishes are on the menu, 5 to 8 different blends of cooking sauces with either prawn, chicken, veg or lamb.
Our starters were shared poppadoms with the usual dips of mint sauce, mango chutney, seasoned onions and chilli.
For the main feature, I opted for my old favourite, chicken rogan josh, which was served slightly different here. Normally it is with large stewed tomatoes, but this had smaller cherry tomatoes. Luckily this did not impact the taste I am used to. I had a side of “ladies fingers” which is okra chopped finely, fried with curry spices and onions. We shared a pilau rice and cheese nan bread. My companion had chicken vindaloo which hello, is one of the spiciest dishes on the menu. I feared for him, but he said this was his thing, he likes spice. There was a slight blush in his face, but he enjoyed it. I of course had to give it a little try, so I cautiously dipped my nan bread in the sauce. Nope, full on spicy food is not my thing.
I love this place. It has a combination of comfort, attentiveness, friendliness, familiarity and of course, good food. I will venture here again and yes, I will try a different dish because I felt comfortable enough at the Standard Balti House to do so.
Standard Balti House
71 Brick Lane
London E1 6QL
T. 020 7247 5855