word of an indian melody

Finally a new restaurant review; it’s been almost a year. One reason for the delay, of course, is the Generic English Pub. It always begins with that I want an ale, and then I end up eating fish and chips. I like fish and chips, but I won’t write reviews about it. But now I went into a real restaurant. Here is what I found.

After an evening rehearsal at St. Mike’s in central Southampton, a snack was in order and, more by chance than by design, my colleague and I stumbled upon and into Indian Melody, a new vegetarian/vegan restaurant on High Street (see another bunch of reviews here).

The menu is impressively long and slightly intimidatingly outlandish. After asking for a few more details, we found our way to two light dishes, a mixed spiced rice bowl with some freshly made condiments and a touch of fresh cilantro, and a crisp sort of large pancake with a deliciously juicy fresh cheese and vegetable filling. I’m bad at names, forgive me.

While we were waiting, the owner introduced himself at our table, asked how we had found out about Indian Melody and whether we were content, informed us about his passion for food based on freshly imported ingredients, and finally inquired about what we had ordered, promising to go into the kitchen in order to make sure that we would be truly satisfied.

Whether it was because of this individual care or because the culinary concept of this restaurant in any case is utterly sound I cannot judge, but we subsequently spent a very happy time with what we got.  The food is startlingly fresh, beautifully presented and very tasty. The restaurant is roomy and has a pleasant atmosphere (unlike some restaurants I know that are so overloaded with tables and chairs that the guests end up sitting half on each others’ laps, listening to everyone else’s cell phone calls).

Desserts were recommended and brought: cute little sweet things completely unknown to me, but a perfect ending of the experience.

I will have to return another day really hungry, in order to get to know the full scope of the kitchen, but on first impression this beats most of the vegetarian, and all of the Indian restaurants I have seen thus far (and I say “most” only because I once dined in that absolutely fantastic vegetarian restaurant in Edinburgh the name of which I sadly forgot, or I would have written about it long ago). This place has an enormous potential and I would like to encourage everyone, no matter whether they are some-time vegetarians or veritable hard-liners, to test out for themselves whether my impression is correct.

So the service. I do appreciate a personal touch and I found it truly helpful that the owner stepped in and gave us an idea of his philosophy. He is very enthusiastic, which I personally do like, but I wonder whether some guests might be tempted to misinterpret this readiness to communicate as a somewhat forced eagerness to please. These things are difficult to balance but worth pondering. I am sure that there is an abundance of material available to guide fresh restaurant owners in matters of guest-contact etiquette.

I may sound patronizing with this remark but this is only because I wish Indian Melody all the success in the world. I feel that between now and that success, a bit of extra streamlining is necessary.

This applies to the general organization as well. For two small main courses, drinks and dessert, we had four persons at our table during the course of our stay, who, while all being polite and mild mannered, weren’t fully coordinated, which resulted in insecurity as to whether we already had ordered, what we had ordered, and whether the owner had or had not forwarded the dessert order to the kitchen. While, again, this is not a huge problem if everyone remains calm, there is no real reason why Indian Melody couldn’t organize their table service in a slightly more efficient way. Nevertheless highly recommended.

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