Last night I was lucky enough to collaborate with Chaakoo Bombay Cafe by having a taster session of their menu with my mum. Located on St Vincent Street in Glasgow’s city centre and first opened last October, this fresh take on an Indian restaurant has all the makings of a traditional Iranian cafe. Although there are other Indian restaurants in the city centre, I have never been to an Indian restaurant during any of my travels that serves Indian cuisine in tapas sized dishes. This new take on Indian food makes it possible to not only order according to your appetite, but encourages customers to be more experimental with the dishes they order.
Our table was booked for 7pm, and I was amazed at how busy the restaurant was. On Mondays and Tuesdays only the additional upstairs area is closed to customers and just the downstairs seating area is opened. A constant flow of customers passed in and out the front door, the bar area was busy, and there were plenty of staff on hand both behind it and on the floor. We were served by the lovely Selena, who was incredibly gracious, informative and welcoming.
As soon as we walked inside I was struck by the interiors. Classical interior architecture framed the walls and ceilings; ornate pilasters, pediments and cornices painted in white and bottle green. The walls between these decorative features were covered with mirrors and dark wood; all the colours wonderfully complimentary of one another and the glass giving the illusion the restaurant was twice its actual width. There were old newspaper clippings, business cards and advertisements from India and Persia on the walls, and the booth seating areas were designed like seating areas on an old fashioned train. There were signs on the walls with rules for both staff and customers; “no water for cattle” and “no flirting with the customers”. Amusing, eye catching and encouraging guests to explore the restaurant with their eyes. Even the stairway downstairs to the washrooms were painted in the same deep green and decorated with vintage movie posters. Waiting for our dishes seemed to fly past while we took in the whole decor and atmosphere of the place.
Selena explained that the dishes on the menu were a tapas style and size. She recommended to my mum and I that we order two to three dishes each, and so we did. Prices on the All Day Menu range between £1 and £9, so meals in Chaakoo are more than reasonable. All eight of our dishes arrived together, and we were able to pick between the small dishes. Between them I tried a glass of the Chaakoo Sauvignon Blanc (£4.65) and a Rasabharee Kooler (£7).
- Masala Fries (£1.95) – I love that this Indian restaurant included fries on their menu. The slightly spicy, salty seasoning on the fries allowed them to blend into the menu well, and they were fantastic for dipping into the various curries and sauces that accompanied the other dishes. A great compromise dish for those who aren’t a fan of rice.
- Pishwiri Naan (£1.95) – The best pishwiri naan (and I do not say this lightly) I’ve ever tasted. The proportions of this naan were all right; not too thick, not too thin, and not too doughy. The bread was filled with coconut and covered with almond flakes and its sweetness was a perfect way to counter the spice of the other dishes.
- Sabjee Samosa (£3.95) – We ordered these on the recommendation of both our waitress and the General Manager, and were so glad we did. These crispy samosas were so well designed in their batter to filling ratio. The centre was soft, filled with potatoes and peas and seasoned with green chilli and corriander. Alongside these relatively cool parcels was a sweet, honey barbecue style sauce with a thin consistency that seeped through the filling, once again a well thought out accompaniment to a dish.
- Smoked Chicken Tikka (£5.95) – Part of the ‘Irani Kebabs’ section of the menu, these four chicken breast chunks are whisky chip smoked then rubbed in tikka dry rub. This is perfect for those who don’t like chicken in a lot of sauce, as its served alongside a serving of mint chutney. The chicken was tender, well spiced and had the cool sauce counterpart too cool it down.
- Cauliflower (£3.95) – This vegetarian kebab option consisted four large cauliflower heads, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. They were spicy, and also served alongside the cool mint chutney.
- Lamb Saagwalla (£6.50) – This was hands down my favourite of all our dishes. Typically I’m not a fan of lamb, but this meat was slow cooked to perfection, fell apart on the plate and melted in my mouth. The taste of this curry was akin to that of beef stew, only with more spice.
- Butter Chicken (£5.95) – This slow cooked chicken was tender, flavourful and absolutely delicious. The creamy, buttery curry sauce was surprisingly light and had slight hints of nut and cardamom. This dish went particularly well the the sweet pishwari naan.
- Kerala Monk Fish (£9) – As part of the “Chef’s Cafe Special Curries” section of the menu, this dish was endorsed wholeheartedly by the GM. This was my first time trying both Monk Fish and fish curry, so I was pleasantly surprised the dish tasted the way it did. It had hints of coconut and garlic, and the taste of fish was evident but by no means overpowering. One of my absolute favourites.
A breath of fresh air when it comes to Indian restaurants in Glasgow, Chaakoo is a hidden gem on one of the busiest streets in the whole city. Great atmosphere, five star food and a staff that are some of, if not the friendliest I’ve ever encountered, a definite must try for those from or visiting Glasgow.
Chaakoo Bombay Cafe:
79 St Vincent Street, Glasgow, G2 5TF.
0141 229 0000.