“The British empire was created as a by-product of generations of desperate Englishmen roaming the world in search of a decent meal.” – Bill Marsano
The history of Britain has a great influence on their culinary culture. Britain being a great trading nation, the importation of food and spices has had a huge impact on the British diet. The growth of the empire gradually introduced the people to new tastes and flavours. While the wholesome English breakfast, Fish and chips, Steak, Shepherd’s pie, etc are the dishes that we commonly associate with Britain, they have also absorbed the cultural influence of various people belonging to other countries across the globe who have settled in Britain, producing many hybrid dishes enabling the Englishmen to sample cuisines from all over the world like Chinese, Indian, Italian, French, American, Spanish, Thai, etc; take the Anglo-Indian preparation of Chicken Tikka Masala for instance. The English Department Bar & Diner that opened up in Malad in November last year is a restaurant that’s one of it’s kind serving anglicised global cuisines having it’s roots in UK, some of which are slightly modified to please Indian palates.
This restaurant is quite easy to locate on the new link road. A flight of stairs right beside the entrance to Khyber leads to a wood panelled glass door that opens into a vast and cosy place. The predominantly wooden interiors and decor boast various elements from London and Scotland with the styling of the door and windows adding some more English touch to it. The miniature model of the London bridge over the long bar counter that stands tall on the other end of the vast dining hall boasts a variety of liquor and glasses hung from it. The circular, well cushioned and comfy couches around large round tables in the centre and a countable few chairs and rectangular tables around them occupy most of the low-lit dining space with adequate space for movement and the soothing music adds to the charm.
This gin based cocktail comprising of mint leaves, gin, lime juice, sugar syrup and sole gin had an absolutely refreshing, cool and mild citrusy flavour with a hint of sweetness.
This whisky based cocktail had a deep flavour and a wonderful savoury punch, courtesy the sweet tropical and strong flavour of guava juice, the heat imparted by tabasco sauce and the intense umami flavour of worcestershire sauce.
The Savoy Daisy
This concoction comprising of red wine, white rum, dark rum, lime juice, sugar syrup and grenadine had a citrusy, sweet and tart flavor with a rich magenta red colour.
The smoky flavour of Bourbon and the delicate balance of sweet, spicy, rich and bitter flavours along with the pleasant herbal aroma imparted by sweet vermouth, both coupled to form a heart-warming concoction while the angostura bitter added some more depth to the flavours.
This was a tangy, fruity, sweet and citrusy mocktail comprising of mint leaves, passion fruit syrup, cranberry juice and orange juice which also released freshness in every sip.
The French bread loaves were neither too greasy nor too dry and adequately crunchy. They were topped with sweet and faintly bitter bell peppers, juicy tomatoes and juicy chunks of chicken; all covered thoroughly with plenty of milky, stringy, springy and supple mozzarella cheese. Every bite into these delectables exuded freshness and slightly peppery notes of basil, zesty flavour of the Italian seasoning and the pungent spicy flavour of minced garlic.
Prawns In Garlic Sauce
Deep fried prawns with a crispy thin exterior and juicy interior were tossed in butter garlic sauce, a flavourful combination of garlic-y and buttery goodness.The mellowed down pungent and spicy tones of the abundant crushed and grossly chopped garlic cloves in the thick sauce undoubtedly escalated it’s deliciousness and the large dices of bell peppers served along side added some bitter-sweet crunchy element to this dish.
London Style Fish N’ Chips
This was their take on the traditional English recipe. Basa with a crispy fried thick crust enclosing absolutely tender and flavourful fish within was served with crispy french fries with a soft core and some tartar sauce. While the tartar sauce rightly had a hint of lemon juice in it, it completely MISSED out on the overall flavour and the peculiar rough consistency as the abundance of mayonnaise in it made it taste rather sweet and imparted it a creamy smooth texture instead.
Peanuts tossed with onions, diced tomatoes, some lip smacking Indian spices and lime juice was a spicy, zesty and tangy ‘chaat’ preparation with characteristic pungent tones which served as a very good accompaniment for the cocktails.
Hollowed out potatoes with a crunchy exterior were stuffed with a flavourful mix of potato mash, Indian spices and cushiony soft and smooth minced paneer which was tender yet well held it’s shape and form. The earthy flavour of potatoes and the naturally sweet and nutty flavour of paneer with a hint of spice turned out to be a very delish treat and the mint chutney served alongside was a good accompaniment, courtesy it’s cool freshness with a faint spicy kick.
This spicy and lip smacking delicious chana ‘chaat’ made of chole tossed in a variety of Indian spices was clearly the show stopper of the evening; all courtesy it’s mildly citrusy, zesty, hot and spicy flavours.
Hard boiled eggs were covered in meat mince and coated with bread crumbs throughout to give it a thick, crispy fried and crumbly exterior. SADLY, the minced meat was sans any moisture and the crunchy covering was way too hard and dry hence, difficult to manipulate. To make it WORSE, the mustard mayo served alongside completely missed out on the characteristic pungent flavour of mustard.
Chicken Bolognaise & Bacon Pizza
The wafting aroma of freshly baked oregano, cheese and bacon in the half and half wood-fired pizza that we sampled next, seemed very promising but FAILED to deliver! While the combination of creamy, hearty and meaty sauce with juicy, oregano flavoured minced chicken, cheddar and mozzarella on one side and the combination of bacon bits and strips having a pleasing chewy texture and the copious amounts of supple and stringy mozzarella on the other had complete potential to become a rich, flavourful and meaty affair, the base was way too thick making the overall pizza taste too amateur and UNPLEASANT.
Chicken Shepherd’s Pie
This was a simple yet soul warming and hearty dish comprising of a warm, creamy and moist yet firm crust formed by mashed potatoes and parmesan revealing moist and flavourful minced chicken within, served with a garlic bread loaf by the side.
Spicy Chicken Shish
The delicately spiced and skewered chicken shish kebabs had earthy undertones and mild smoky flavour BUT were a tad bit CHEWY and overdone, thereby failing to please me. The baby potatoes with their skin intact, baby corn, zucchini, bell peppers, etc served alongside imparted a wonderful crunch to the dish.
The staff sported UK’s traditional outfit and was warm, welcoming, kind and well groomed even if a little nervous and lacking confidence. The service was reasonably fast and attentive too. The head chef and executioner Mr. Amir and the manager Mr.Willie were both wonderful hosts who ensured time and again that we were having a good time.
Beverages – 4.5/5
Food quality – 3.7/5
Food quantity – 4/5
Ambience – 4.5/5
Service – 4/5