My Tuesday night booking for Zeen restaurant cancelled due to fire, my sister and I rescheduled for Thursday when instead we had to path-find our way there through a blizzard.
Drummond street, next to Euston is known for it’s Indian restaurants. Located in a 70’s styled, orange-lit basement, the tube rumbling beneath you as you eat, Zeen is a fusion experience, cockney bombay.
Mini fresh-fried spicy popadums and mango chutney accompanied two Margarita cocktails which were not bad at all.
Starters: Dahi Batati Puri: crispy fried puri shells covered with wheat vermicelli, from which, on stabbing with your fork, tumbles sweet yoghurt, streaked through with a tamarind and coriander sauce. An unusual replacement for the standard yoghurt raitha, the owner ‘Zeenat’ said this dish is ‘street food’ in India. I’m a huge fan of street food everywhere and it was refreshing to see this dish brought indoors.
Other starters were also good; Soft shell crab with a rich tomato, garlic butter creamy sauce; chilli paneer, cubes of indian cheese mixed with stir fried mediterranean vegetables and a slick of tangy purée.
Presentation is modern, colourful, with fresh herbs but not poncy.
Flavours are separate, not your usual Indian where you get the feeling there is a huge vat of brown sauce in the kitchen which they ladle over every dish.
For mains I chose the thali platter: fantastically creamy nutmeg Saag Paneer (spinach & cheese), Kathe Meethe Aloo (tangy rich bombay-style potatoes), Tadka Dal, smooth yellow lentils topped with a wickedly calorific dribble of ghee, pilau rice (perfumed with golden saffron strands), mini papads, chutney, freshly made naan bread and the afore-mentioned Dahi Batata Puri.
My sister chose an unusual dish which could be described as an Indian version of haggis; the chef’s special ‘Tandoori stuffed squid’. The stuffing inside the tiny bodies was subtly spicy and fishy, the taste of squid perhaps overwhelmed, but, all importantly with squid, not rubbery.
We accompanied these dishes with a glass of house white, light and fruity, and the house red was soft and deep, both for £2.75 a glass. In general the drink prices are reasonable: £30 for a bottle of champagne for instance, £9.95p a bottle for house red or white.
We also ordered two lassis, salt and mango. The salty lassi was the best I have ever had outside of India. Fresh with just the right degree of sour, almost goat cheesy in flavour.
Desserts were less successful: my sister a fan of Rassomalai, cardamom and pistachio flavoured milk cakes even though usually grainy in texture seemed a little dry. My Falooda, a rose hued and flavoured ‘Indian sundae’ was not mind-blowing.
Zeen’s weekday buffet lunch at £6.75 was recommended on Twitter.
Zeen could be summed up as: modern fusion for the price of a take-away.
Zeen is located at 130 Drummond Street, London NW1 2PA
Tel: 0207 387 0606
Average price per head with wine: £25
Disabled access lift.