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This boozy Indian diner is the work of ex-Benares executive chef Sameer Taneja, cleverly offering quick bites (‘#halfplates’) and strong drinks to time-poor Theatreland goers. The open-plan room is split between benches, bar seats and more intimate corners with banquettes, furnished in rattan, light wood and bright colours. Talli (‘T‐uh‐li’) translates as ‘tipsy’ in Hindi and you’ll acclimatise swiftly: every diner is welcomed with a miniature Masala Punch cocktail, while the 16-strong cocktail list is organised into India’s regions. Our East Indian Paan-Aam mixed Tequila, Betel leaf and raw mango purée, while a Southern Baba Budan blends aged rum with coffee and bitters. Cocktails are strong and adequate, but the real draw on our visit was kale chaat, a crisp and creamy melding of lightly fried kale, potato, pomegranate and yogurt. Another highlight was light and soft-fleshed sea bass, wrapped in a banana leaf and baked with rice, whereas dishes such as a pappy tandoori lamb chop were of questionable quality. A heritage black carrot and peanut brittle dessert was a delicious balance of sticky and sweet, or finish with a masala chai. A short international wine list as affordable as everything else, while well-drilled staff are always on hand. The words ‘rollout-ready’ spring to mind and if those patchy dishes Talli-go, we wouldn’t bet against more Talli-Joe.
Inspired by the dive bars in India, Shaftesbury Avenue’s Talli Joe is the exciting new venture of ex-Benares chef Sameer Taneja. Expect small plates and an extensive cocktail menu incorporating ingredients from different regions in India, including some very unique ingredients, such as biriyani oil. Never thought I’d have that in my cocktail!The small plates are designed to be shared with one or preferably many drinks. ‘Talli’ means tipsy, so you can see where the restaurant is going with this. The menu includes a selection of creative dishes ideal for a tapas meal, but quite different to dishes typically found...
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Okay, I’m just gonna put it right out there and say that I might have found my new favourite Indian restaurant, it’s called Talli Joe. I have a Caribbean heritage where Indian spices are frequently used in Caribbean cooking, such as Curry Goat and roti. As a result I’m quite familiar with the spices of India and have developed a real love of Indian food. Talli Joe is located on the Covent Garden end of Shaftesbury Avenue and has a half-plates, full-drinks concept.
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Talli Joe’s private dining room is an intimate but open space, with alcoves situated along the back wall of the room that offer secluded seating. It can seat up to 20 people, and can accommodate up to 45 standing guests. The room is downstairs and away from the bustle of the main restaurant, allowing for a more personalised service. The vibrant decor and ambiance transports diners to New Age India, lending the room to both casual and formal dining experiences, which can be tailored to requirements.
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