Having been closed for several years, the old Bar Med site on Welsh Back has now been given a new lease of life. Indian restaurant and bar Namaskar Lounge has been in the pipeline since early last year, and finally opened its doors before Christmas. With a plethora of Indian restaurants already in existence in Bristol, I’m pleased to say that this place is a cut above the rest.
Decor-wise, its smart interior, with more of a nightclub feel to the downstairs bar, flat screen TVs on the walls and futuristic lighting sets it apart from the “standard” furnishings that tend to feature in the majority of Indian restaurants. The owners certainly seem to be making it a destination venue…not just in its decor, but also in terms of its food and drink offerings.
Unlike the majority of Indian restaurants, Namaskar Lounge prides itself on its drinks (see the drinks menu here) as well as its food.The wine list ranges from £15 to £20 per bottle, and I was intrigued to see Indian wines included on the list. Beer drinkers can enjoy a decent range in bottles or on draught, but the real focus here is on cocktails.
At £5.95 – £6.25, cocktail prices are very reasonable, and in addition to a list of “classics” you’ll find a range of cocktails with an Indian theme, including ingredients such as Darjeeling tea, tamarind and cardamom. Annoyingly, I was having an alcohol-free night, but will definitely be back to try the “Indian Summer” – a cocktail starring Mount Gay rum, fresh tropical fruits, chilli and balsamic vinegar.
Instead, I opted for a non-alcoholic and very refreshing watermelon and cucumber punch (£2.25) to start, followed by a decidedly lurid but very tasty rose and cardamom lassi (£3.20) later on. The bringing – without asking – of a Namaskar-branded glass bottle of tap water was also a nice touch.
While there are more “standard” options on the menu (click here for full menu) such as samosas, chicken tikka, kormas and bhunas, there’s also a large number of dishes that I had not previously seen on the menu of any Indian restaurants that I had visited in the past.
For our meal, a selection of dishes chosen by Namaskar’s manager. The presentation of all of the dishes that we were served was far above and beyond what we’re used to in Indian restaurants- the pictures speak for themselves.
A starter of Namaskar Stuffed Peppers (£5.50) gave us two halves of sweet red pepper, stuffed full of delicately spiced minced lamb and served with a thin, cool yoghurt sauce. It was accompanied by the same fresh, crunchy salad of carrots, red onions and red cabbage as our Jeera Chicken (£5.90), a generous portion of on-the-bone chicken in a fragrant cumin based sauce with garlic and ginger. Great textures and flavours.
Our main courses were outstanding, right down to the Pulao rice (£2.50), fragranced with whole cloves and cardamom pods. A creamy and buttery Dal Makhani (£4.95) – a Punjab lentil and red kidney bean dish – was perfectly executed, with a decent amount of bite to the pulses and ripe for mopping up with our garlic (£2.25) and tandoori (£1.85) naans.
The main dishes were selected from Namaskar’s specials menu, and gave us the opportunity to try two dishes that we’d never previously seen. The lamb adrakh (£14.50) may be more expensive than you’d expect to pay in many Indian restaurants, but is well worth the money. “Adrakh” meaning “ginger”, the spices in this dish were fantastic. Medium spiced and including cinnamon in addition to the aforementioned ginger, the lamb was lovely and tender and quickly devoured.
The chicken patiala (£12.90) is something that I probably wouldn’t have ordered on looking at the menu, but I’ll certainly be trying it again. Chunks of chicken tikka, green peppers and onions make up the basis of the dish, which is wrapped in an omelette and cooked with spinach. A bit of an odd combination, we thought, but once it arrived, my dining companion couldn’t stop raving about it. The thin wrapping of omelette added a sweet edge to the chicken and vegetables, which seemed odd at first but was by far our favourite dish of the evening.
Unsurprisingly, we were defeated by the sheer amount of food we placed in front of us…but were impressed when we were asked if we’d like the rest to box up and take home. Now that’s service.
With a final bill for all of the above of just over £60, it may be a little pricier than many Indian restaurants, but the settings, service and outstanding food make it well worth the money. For those who don’t want to stretch the purse strings that little bit more, head in at lunchtime – their lunchtime buffet costs just £9.95, but is available at the bargain price of just £6.95 until mid-February!
Now to find a date to head back to try the cocktails…
Namaskar Lounge are taking part in the “Around The World In 80 Days” campaign – for more details, see here http://www.80-days.co.uk
Please note: this meal was received free of charge, but in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.
Find Namaskar Lounge on the Bristol Bites Directory…