We’ve had some agreeable times in East Cowes recently – perhaps the most notable was the impromptu party aboard Floating Bridge #5 as it made its last transits of the Medina before retirement. With music from some passing minstrels and a picnic from Waitrose we enjoyed ourselves so much that we ended up in the nearby White Hart and carried on the party long after we’d been politely encouraged to take our noisy ukulele-powered celebrations off the vessel.
The next night, we were back, grabbing a quick pizza with some pals at the new Prego restaurant of which we previously enthused “it could practically be New York”. So a few days later, when we were on the lookout for warming winter supper, it’s no surprise that we returned to the east bank of the Medina to try out another recent opening in East Cowes, the Taste of India restaurant.
Strolling in, we were greeted and shown to a window seat. A big party nearby was settling into their starters, and as we contemplated the menus and nibbled poppadums, we were much encouraged by the sight of trolley after trolley of steaming food emerging from the kitchen for them. On offer at Taste of India was the usual Indian restaurant fare, with a few extras that piqued our interest. Under the ‘Old Favourites’ section we could have chosen the usual korma, madras or balti and many others, but instead our eyes were drawn to the category of ‘Indian Street Food’.
These little dishes were a bit like tapas in size and style. Cat’s simple aloo tikki was a pair of small spiced potato patties which were described as being served on a bed of chick peas, yoghurt, mint and tamarind sauce. Alas they weren’t, although they did come with a light salad. Matt was more impressed with his samosa chat which was indeed presented with those same accompaniments, and was outstanding. The sweet, tangy tamarind topped a generous layer of smooth yoghurt, the whole thing piled on top of some chick peas and a few deconstructed samosas. It was easy to imagine that this dish really was the kind of thing you might buy from an Indian street vendor.
Aloo tikka £3.95
Samosa chat £4.50
Niligiri murg tikka £8.50
Special biriyani £11.50
Baigan bharta £3.75
Plain rice £2.50
Plain naan £2.95
Plain papadum x 2 @ 60p £1.20
The main dishes were plentiful and particularly well-presented. Matt was drawn in by the Taste of India special biryani, of which the menu gushed “Our Taste of India Dum ka biryani is immaculately crafted for your culinary indulgence”. At £11.50 it was one of the most expensive dishes on the menu. The chicken and lamb were present as expected, plus some unannounced prawns and a lot of rice. A small vegetable curry alongside was a necessary integrant, giving some spice and sauce to the pleasant but otherwise undistinguished dish.
Cat chose nilgiri murgh tikka from the house specialities – she loved the coriander, mint and spinach which made for a colourful dinner and infused the tikka with a mild, sweet herby flavour. Alongside we chose baingen bharta, a smoked aubergine side dish. Aubergine there certainly was, whether it was smoked was harder to tell. It added a good texture and salty flavour to the main dishes.
Throughout the meal we enjoyed some very attentive and polite service, and the atmosphere was noticeably friendly and relaxed. As we were leaving Cat even fell into conversation with the chef who had come out to chat to her customers, and the friendly waiter offered to take a picture of us for the restaurant Facebook page. We were abashed to decline, but nonetheless had to – we are supposed to be anonymous reviewers after all!
Overall, we’re pleased to recommend Taste of India. It’s one of the better Indian dining experiences on the Island, which admittedly is a small field to compete in. The service was well above average, and the food was of a good standard and generous in quantity. It wasn’t always clear that we were actually getting what the menu described, but nonetheless what did come was pretty good. Another tick in the box for East Cowes.
This is the full-length version of the review that first appeared in the Isle of Wight County Press.
- Interesting choice of dishes
- Very friendly service
- Nice environment
- Two dishes not quite as described