signsquare Purple Poppadom, CardiffI’ve been following the career of Chef Anand George, since discovering him in the early days of Mint and Mustard. In fact I first reviewed M&M back in September 2008, when I was still randomly posting on Blogger.com (click here to read). You can tell it was early days as you got three chocomosa for dessert as they hadn’t fully sorted their portion sizes out.

After leaving M&M Chef George appeared at a few food festivals and pop-ups until launching Purple Poppadom back in early December 2011. I was very pleased to be invited to the launch party, but in keeping with my normal policy of allowing all new restaurants a settling in period I didn't review it at the time. However, I have to say that apart from the obvious issues of trying to serve a fine dining menu to 80 plus people simultaneously, the quality of the food that night could certainly have stood up to a review.

Instead we waited a few weeks and then went back, giving the kitchen the chance to have bedded itself in and us the opportunity to catch up with my old mate Chef Steve Bennett, who MrsA and myself hadn't seen in ages.

We met up on a quiet Thursday lunch time, during the holiday period for a leisurely lunch and a catch up.

We knew from the launch event that a number of staff (7 I think) from Mint & Mustard had followed Chef George to the Purple Poppadom, and ascending the stairs to the dining room it was nice to be greeted by the familiar and friendly faces of Restaurant Manager, Prashant Shankar and General Manager and also Director, Raman Bijalwan. The fact that so many old staff have chosen to give relatively secure employment (Mint and Mustard not only continues but won a Michelin Bib Gourmand in the latest guide some 7 months after George left) and follow him to his new venture is an glowing indication of their belief in his ability to make this a great success.

Steve had arrived before us, so we took our places at the table and ordered drinks whilst perusing the menu. There's a Chef's Taster Menu offering four courses for £39.00 for a minimum of two people, or a more traditional, in style if not content,  À La Carte menu. We opted for the latter in order to see a good representation of the dishes on offer.

The some of the dishes bear interesting titles that are not always self-explanatory, this isn't a problem though as each dish has a good menu description and the staff are only to pleased further explain and/or recommend if required.

I decided to start with Boef à Trois - “Dainty spiced beef samosa with spices. Chapli kebab of minced beef accompanied by our Billimoria beef and Cobra beer pie”.

boef a trois Purple Poppadom, Cardiff

This was a very nice way to start lunch. I thought the star of the dish was the pie and was surprised at how much of a flavour enhancer a light beer, such as the Cobra, was. The pastry too was excellent! The samosa packed a lovely spiced punch; although if I'm nit picking, it could have done with a slightly thinner batter.

Steve opted for Prawns in the Pink – “Crispy tiger prawn; Kafir lime marinated tandoori king prawn accompanied by prawn balchao – a Goan style pickled tiger prawn.” 

prawns in the oink Purple Poppadom, Cardiff

MrsA went for Crab from the Pot – “Crispy soft shell crab dusted with curry leaves and garlic. Nandu Pillow, spiced cake of crab encased in crispy Japanese breadcrumbs. Warm salad of crab meat and sweetcorn spiked with turmeric and coconut.”

crab from the pot Purple Poppadom, Cardiff

All three were beautifully prepares and delicately seasoned so that the crab shone through.

After a complementary palate cleansing sorbet (sorbet's pop up quite regularly on the dishes and we later found out that Chef George had just bought himself a Pacojet with which he was obviously having fun), for main course I ordered Nawabi Chicken – “chicken supreme marinated with creamy cheese, with a touch of cardamom and mace and finished in the tandoor accompanied by a boneless bhuna chicken thigh served with makhani sauce and mint sorbet.”

nawabi chicken Purple Poppadom, Cardiff

I have to say this is an extremely well executed dish. The chicken was moist, flavourful and exquisitely spiced. I was a little apprehensive of the cold mint sorbet, but it really worked and cut through some of the richness of the other components whilst still bringing a mouth refreshing zest to the plate.

Chef Bennett plumped for Chef George's signature dish, the Tiffin Cup winning Tiffin Sea Bass – “sea bass, pan seared and served on a bed of curry leaf infused mashed potato; in a tongue tickling raw mango, ginger and coconut sauce with beetroot pachadi.” He seemed quite taken with it.

tiffin sea bass Purple Poppadom, Cardiff

MrsA, was in a lamb mood and so chose Raan Akbari – “slow braised lamb shank marinated with spices and finished in the tandoor, served with a curried pumpkin mash and a spoon of mint sorbet.”

raan akbari Purple Poppadom, Cardiff

The lamb shank was fork tender, and very aromatic.  It also had a bite of chili which was nicely balanced with the mint sorbet.

Moving on to the desserts, Steve picked the Deux Crèmes Brûlée -“Side-by-side presentation of green tea and a rose petal Crème Brûlée.” Now I'm not a fan of Crème Brûlée and would never order it through choice, but on the launch night the rose petal version was served for us to try. Although mine was just on the edge of splitting it was a taste sensation, so I was interested to see how this version was.  Well texturally it was spot on, the more controlled service of a normal day meant it had been cooked perfectly and was a smooth as smooth could be.

deux cremes brullee Purple Poppadom, Cardiff

I of course ordered the Chocomosa Anand, a firm favourite since that first taste of Anand George's cooking way back in 2008. It didn't disappoint!

chocomosa Purple Poppadom, Cardiff

My dear wife was feeling a bit full after all her lamb and so kept it nice and simple with two scoops of Home Made Sorbet and making Chef happy by giving him another chance to play with his new Pacojet.

ice cream Purple Poppadom, Cardiff

The pineapple and saffron sorbet was the real treat out of the two. The saffron and pineapple married well.  The grape sorbet had an extremely concentrated grape flavour. It was refreshing but simply missing the wow factor of both the mint sorbet, flavoured with basil, that accompanied the main course and the pineapple sorbet it shared a plate with. 

After dessert Chef George came out of the kitchen and we were able to spend some time chatting to him about this venture and what his plans are. Whilst Purple Poppadom bills itself as “Nouvelle Indian Cuisine” it's thankfully, not Chef George's stated aim to serve the smallest portion of food for the highest price he can. Rather he wants to continue to refine his cooking techniques and keep pushing the boundaries in his quest to re-define Indian Cuisine. He's currently experimenting, not only with bringing plates of multiple tastes to the table, but also with different textures; something that British Indian Cuisine is not known for.

As we had dined with a professional chef, and pretty damn fine one at that, I asked Steve if he'd take a look at this review before publication and let me know if there was anything he disagreed with or would like to add. This is what he sent me back:

“Anand George's passion for the cuisine he showcases shines in the end product, with a level of thought and technical expertise rarely seen in ethnic restaurants. I was highly impressed by the depth of flavour in each of my courses, and pleasantly surprised by the presentation. My main course also contained one of the most perfectly cooked pieces of fish I have had in a long time.”

Well you can't say fairer than that!

With Purple Poppadom, Anand George now has an unrestrained opportunity to develop his innovative cooking style. Describing his career to date spanning India, London and Cardiff as his ‘5,000 mile culinary journey', he's certainly proved to us he can cook so I'm very excited to see how this next stage in his culinary journey unfolds. Here's to the next 5,000 miles Chef, I hope I can eat my way through most of it with you! 

Purple Poppadom
Upper Floor
185a Cowbridge Road East
Canton, Cardiff, CF11 9AJ
Tel: 029 2022 0026

http://www.purplepoppadom.com

minilink Purple Poppadom, Cardiff