Apparently, Kasturi is the proper name for the substance with “penetrating odour” that you get from a musk deer’s “back/rectal area”. Quite why you’d wish to name a restaurant after this (then explain it at the front of your menu) eludes me, but hey ho.
Kasturi the restaurant, has a penetrating odour all of its own, and that is a rich, warm, earthy spice of an odour, which is full of promise. The place is currently suffering from location issues, and no matter how many signs they put up, the tram works are going to rain on their parade for a good while yet.
Consequently, the place was quite sparsely populated, when I arrived. I was quickly shown a nice table and given a leather-bound menu to consider. It was unusual to spot a range of different soups on an Indian menu, so I was intrigued enough to plump for the seafood soup. To follow, I opted for the tandoori pomfret fish, mindful of Laila’s sage advice.
The place has beautiful cornice work, is heavy on the green tones, and has a relaxed, stylish feel to it. The service is welcoming, attentive and sadly very well-versed at apologising; at least they were with me.
The soup to start was truly pathetic. It had some tasty chunks of seafood lurking in its depths, but they’d been placed in a watery brown-ness, with nothing but after-burner chilli heat to flavour it. I could have soldiered on and completed the bowl, but I didn’t see the point. The place was going to find out sooner or later how much I disliked the dish, so why not give them a chance to redeem themselves? For the first time in questing history a dish, and soup no less (!), was sent back. This wasn’t a good start. Surely my main couldn’t fail so dismally?
But before the main arrived, to their credit, they attempted to rectify the starter situation with a plate of vegetable pakora, spirited out of the ether at no charge. These were fine, and much better than the soup, but weren’t particularly memorable.
The main to follow was a significant upgrade. The two staring pomfret fish, set on a plate of rice and salad, were good. The fish was well cooked, and nicely seasoned, but the accompaniments were underwhelming. The “chef’s special” rice wasn’t all that special, and the salad was much the same as was served with the pakora. The tarka daal accompaniment wasn’t great, either, which was disappointing.
It’s with places like Kasturi that the scoring system we use comes in to sharp relief as a beautifully flawed tool. There’s no denying that Kasturi is a lovely space (so 4/5), with better than good service (another 4/5), and their dishes look pretty good (3.5/5), but their food is not good (a generous 1.5/5). So they end up scoring 13/20, which really doesn’t feel quite right.
So overall, Kasturi isn’t worth the visit. If what they are serving is “gourmet” Indian, as they claim, there are a raft of Indian places that should be expecting Michelin stars, any day now. Back in reality land, Kasturi should be walked past and pitied, because the tram works will likely mean it doesn’t get a chance to mature and improve. But as things stand, they are contributing to their own downfall, in no small measure.
Blythe scores Kasturi:
1.5/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
4/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 13/20
Today’s questers was: Blythe
I ate: seafood soup (sent back), vegetable pakoras, tandoori pomfret fish, tarka daal
I drank: lager
I wore: pinstripes
Total bill: c.£25