Tel: +44 (0)20 7588 5043 / 5044
Address: 45 London Wall, Moorgate, EC2M 5TE
Cuisine Type: Indian
Located inconspicuously in a row of shops at the heart of the City, Mehek’s diners could be in for a surprise on their first visit. The doors lead to a glitzy bar covering almost half of the tunnel-like front portion of the restaurant before opening out, Tardis-like, to a considerable dining space at the back.
Diners were, unsurprisingly, mostly city-types – braying ones, at that. Their voices made for a noisy time, and the restaurant was busy even early in the week.
Mehek’s décor and atmosphere match the restaurant’s clients – this is a sterile, clean, predictable and unremarkable city space.
Mehek’s speciality is North Indian cuisine, but the menu caters for standard Indian food too, containing as it did bhajis, naans, tikka Masala, korma, jalfrezi, balti and biryani dishes. The starters are reasonably priced from £3 to £7, with main courses ranging from £7 to £15. Of most interest were the house specialities, of which more later.
Starters mixed seafood, poultry and lamb with vegetarian options. I began with malai chops, described as “tender lamb chops matured in yoghurt, cream cheese and ginger, marinated and char grilled,” while my guest opted for hariali chicken tikka, marinated in yoghurt with mint, green chilli, coriander and garlic. Both dishes were well – if similarly – presented, and the meats were tender, juicy and with the right blend of spices for that additional tanginess. The only disappointment was the side salads, which were garden variety julienne-chopped cabbage and carrots.
The restaurant had taken the liberty of serving us the best dishes in the house. First off was chicken jalfrezi, marinated with ground spices, sautéed with tomatoes, onions, capsicums and green chillies. Arguably the spiciest dish we had, it was quite flavoursome yet didn’t distinguish itself from similar fare in other Indian restaurants.
Next in line was raan-e-Mehek, labelled “the chef’s signature dish”. At first glance the dish seemed to be little more than brown paste, but the surprise was to come – underneath were the tender slices of lamb, infused with mild spices. The meat all but melted on the tongue.
We also sampled the sukhi duck. This consisted of sliced strips of mild spiced meat, presented with onions on top of a banana leaf – a whiff of authenticity. Arranged superbly on the plate, it gave the sense that the cook took time over the preparation. The duck itself subtle rather than spicy, but lashings of soy sauce suggested Chinese rather than Indian.
But the star of the evening was undoubtedly the king prawn special – boro chingri pardanashi– prawns cooked in a mild curry and served inside a fresh coconut. An exceptional taste, this dish is highly recommended for seafood fans.
Ordinarily, Indian restaurants are not known for their wine selections, but at Mehek, connoisseurs can select from a respectable menu ranging from £12 upwards. We were served a 2003 Santa Isabel Argentinian Malbec, a snip at £17 a bottle with scarcely a trace of acidity. The deliciously fruity flavour complimented the spices of the food. It’s better to spend that little extra on the wine – a house red, South African Shiraz Pinotage, at £12 a bottle, supplied acidity in spades. A second, more extensive wine list is available on demand for those with corporate credit cards.
With friendly and attentive staff, Mehek is a diverting experience in the Moorgate area, a part of the world not known for its eating opportunities. Whether you want to play it safe with familiar dishes or push the boat out and be a little adventurous, Mehek likely has the dish for you.