On the whole, the Michelin guide is a safe place to consult when looking for somewhere to eat out. For a consistently good meal, forget twos and threes, and stick with the cheaper, humbler one star. Undoubtedly, the ‘little red book’ gives preference to European food, so when South West Indian seafood specialist Trishna gained a star (and subsequent blog appeal) in October 2012 for its foodie fireworks, I felt I ought to give it a try.
Trishna is no curry house. I loved the slight Scandinavian feel of the simple dining room – wooden floors, Nordic furniture, exposed brick walls – and as I waited for some friends, I felt as all foodies do when they’ve chosen a good restaurant. Just a little bit smug. But smug came and went. The early evening menu (four courses for £20) is only available between 6 and 6.15pm. Allowing for traffic, late friends, and slow service, this gives you seconds to order from this menu – a rather mean timeframe, albeit partly our fault. Equally mean, two small-ish poppadums, although crisp, fresh and warm, were rather stingily divided between the three of us. Chutneys, however, especially the sharp and spicy tomato and prawn, were fantastic.
As individual dishes go, the spicing in the Fish pepper fry [Keralan spices, black pepper, curry leaf] (£7.25) was more challenge than comfort, black pepper completely overwhelming the somewhat overcooked white fish. Guinea fowl tikka [fennel seed, star anise, Masoor lentils] (£15.00), presented on a bed of lentils on a wooden board, fared slightly better – succulent and accurately spiced, but could have done with a little more acidity or even a dollop of cooling yoghurt. Naans (£5) – sesame, plain, and garlic – however, were some of the best I’ve had. Whilst there were satisfied noises coming from around the table, I’m not sure any of us entirely understood Michelin’s patronage. The slight saving grace was the sommelier’s recommendation of the off-dry, lightly perfumed Riesling, Dr. Bürklin‐Wolf, 2011 (£29.00). It’s a nice touch also having recommendations by the glass under each dish, which avoids the problem of finding suitable pairings for difficult-to-match Indian cuisine.
I really wanted to enjoy Trishna, but the entirely unwelcoming front of house team and their patchy service made that very difficult. There were moments of foodie delight, but generally I think we felt underwhelmed. It’s hard to see how, in Michelin’s starry-eyes, Trishna delivers anything on a par with that served in Dabbous, Viajante, or even its next-door neighbour, Roganic. Should we really still rely on this glorified tyre company to guide us around food? Sorry Michelin, but I think you’ve got a flat. If only the AA gave out stars…
Trishna, Blandford Street, Marylebone
31st April 2013, £134 for three (with service)
Food; 5, Service; 4; Ambience 7