Sharing plates full of rice, spice and all things nice at new Himalayan joint Madame D’s. Read on to see why you need to book in
Words Hannah Hopkins
If you like your spicy food, make a note to bag a table at Madame D’s – a dining den on Commercial Street showcasing the oriental flavours of the Himalayas.
Fans of Gunpowder, the home style Indian kitchen, may well have already heard of Madame D’s, which comes from the same owners – Harneet and Devina Baweja. But their new venture is different in both size and flavour.
Marked only by awnings overhanging the windows, Madame D’s echoes the ramshackle back-rooms that once littered the Commercial Street rag route. Set above the neon sign-posted Charles King Harman bar, the pared back room instantly puts you at ease. Packed with design quirks left over from the former curry house it inhabits, there are lights made from chutney pot clusters and old curry house chair backs forming the bar. We loved the atmospheric smoky candlelight, distressed walls and high ceilings.
Makeshift industrial trestle tables and long wooden benches line the room for communal feasting, while dishes and specials are written on chalk boards – a perfect setup for the sharing plates, dips and sauces to come.
First though, are the cocktails. We opt for a surprisingly refreshing absinthe, bourbon and lime concoction, as well as a delightful rose spritz. Both are light and the perfect accompaniment to our nibbles – prawn crackers with szechuan pepper salt and a punchy dip.
The succinct menu from Harneet and Head Chef Nirmal Save is a love letter to the darker, oriental palate of the Himalayas, drawing on the flavours of Indian, Nepalese, Tibetan and Chinese cooking and using local ingredients.
With dishes designed to share we opt for six or so plates including spicy and salty Hakka Chilli Paneer and melt-in-the-mouth Gold Coin Naga Beef Puffs.
All of this deliciousness ranges from £3 to £15 a dish. Bargain. To finish we try out one of the new puddings – a take on a classic rice pudding served with hibiscus soup. It’s a sweet, delicious finish to a rich meal. By the time we leave the place is packed with in-the-know foodies, emptying plates at a rate of knots and securing Harneet and Devina Baweja’s place as the king and queen of the food scene.