It’s safe to say that in this day an age the opening of a chain’s ninth restaurant can be considered a real feather in an already grand cap. But rather than sit and admire the plumage he has gathered down the years, the man behind Coriander and it’s latest eatery in Barbican is right in the mix of it all once again.
Restauranteur Badrul Haque, who upon opening a new establishment places himself in the kitchen to ensure sure everything runs according to his meticulous blueprint, is clearly a hands-on kind of guy. And maybe its this close association with his food that helps mould the dining experience in Aldersgate Street.
Already murmuring with the chimes of cutlery on plate upon arrival for the lunch sitting, it would be hard to argue that Coriander Barbican isn’t steadily establishing itself as a prime location for business meetings on the company card.
The highlight among a smörgåsbord of starters is a creamily soft hara kebab – which with a little reverse engineering breaks down in to spinach, potato and cashew nuts. The waiting staff, ever ready to top up the house white without overstepping their welcome – an extension of Haque’s own “I’ll let the food do the talking” approach – are then on hand with king prawns draped in lemon, garlic and ginger, and a malai chicken tikka seasoned with green chillies, cumin, tumeric and garlic.
Plates are scraped clean with the remainder of spicy popadoms and Haque is again out from behind the scenes to educate his guests on how he creates an authentic experience of taste fresh from the subcontinent.
“We use absolutely no artificial colours or preservatives,” he tells us shortly after his team has plated up round two. Even without the aromas emanating from the kitchen it was clear when the next course was about to drop in, a sizzling plate of garlic mushrooms announcing its arrival.
Spinach again featured, this time with lentils as a moreish side, while a lamb mughalai – a noted customer favourite – stole the show as a “pumped-up” madras embellished with chilli and garlic for added heat. Garlic naans were a little on the safe side in terms of flavour, but perhaps purposefully so; their lighter texture sidestepping the dangers of punters filling up on bread.
We indulged in traditional Indian ice cream – better known as kulfi, in this case mango flavoured – to complete the trip to lands more exotic, and scribbled a note down to steer the boss this way when discussions need to be had about the annual staff bonus.
Coriander Barbican, 55 Aldersgate Street EC1A 4LA