Monday nights are for hitting the gym or recovering from your first working day of the week, right?
Well, in truth, those of us who spend Mondays ‘laying low’ could be missing out.
The concept of ‘Monday night supper clubs,’ isn’t a new one, but is a great way to sample themed menus that may not be available other days of the week.
We went along to Roti Chai – a brightly-lit Indian eaterie tucked away behind Selfridges.
While casual diners can hit the ‘street-kitchen’ for curries and street snacks by day, a chicer dining experience can be found in the basement by night.
It’s here we sampled Roti Chai’s Monday supper club, which launched in November, to coincide with the restaurant’s one year anniversary and Diwali week.
The themes change, our chatty waitress Shefau explained. Dishes in November’s Monday night supper clubs were inspired by the traditional Hindu festival, and for the rest of the year, they’ll be inspired by other events on the Indian calendar, or regions of the chef’s choice.
With bare breeze-block walls juxtaposed with delicate wooden lanterns and warm hues, it’s clear that founder Rohit Chugh was going for a hint of ‘industrial chic’.
A stylish cocktail was the last thing I expected to be drinking in such a humbly named establishment. But if you’re not there for the street kitchen’s ‘Pushkar Pimms’ or Chai-infused Lychee Teapot Martini, the dining room is surprisingly home to a striking orange-lit bar, which serves some mouth-watering blends
After Shefau’s insistence, I opted for a sharp and delicious pomegranate martini.
Food-wise, the supper club menu was a delight.
My Keralan seafood mollee was a South Indian soup dish served in two parts – a jug of rich yellow coconut soup on one side, and a small glass bowl of prawns, scallops and rice to pour it over on the other.
My guest’s meatier Venison haleem took on the same theme. The slow-cooked venison and pounded wheat was presented alongside a jug of saffron and ginger-based sauce. Quite heavy but yummy nonetheless.
For mains, I wavered over the Kerala fish kari (fish curry) but settled on the butter chicken which features on the regular a la carte menu, but was too hard to resist. Although I could have handled a little more spice, it was rich and soft, as I’d hoped, served with a hint of fenugreek.
My meat-loving guest opted for the Goan pork vinha d’alhos – an Indian take on the Portuguese marinated pork dish. It wasn’t as tangy as the menu suggested, however it was a delightful mix of tender pork pieces, chewy crackling and roasted potatoes served in a pleasant tomato-based sauce with hints of clove.
The dessert menu was limited to an apple and mango teapot toddy for two, a ‘Gajar ka halwa’ (classic Indian carrot ‘fudge’ cake) and Kulfi (a creamy Indian mango ice cream).
We went for the latter two. There was nothing ‘fudgey’ about the cake, but it was a pleasant change to the over-sweet and sickly puds we’re used to.
The mango ice cream was a hit, and the deliciousness creaminess soon helped me get over the fact I had to eat it from a stick.
We’d already over-indulged for a Monday night, but there was one more thing we had to try – the Chai.
Shefau couldn’t divulge the chef’s ‘secret recipe’. But it was hot and milky and bursting with cloves and spices.
And as we readied ourselves to leave, the lattice-style partitions and train carriage-style luggage racks overhead added a likeable atmosphere to the already relaxed and quirky interiors.
Fun nostalgia in the form of olde worlde food packages and adverts are around you right until you walk out the door.
A pleasant ‘pop-up’ surprise for a Monday night. This could just be our new favourite day of the week.
Roti Chai, 3 Portman Mews South, London, W1H 6HS, 0207 408 0101