ci 4I’ve always enjoyed visits to Chutney Ivy and was pleased to accept a recent invitation to a press night where we had the chance to sample a selection of dishes from the menu chosen by co-owner Shafs Islam

Opening Chutney Ivy in 2010 was a brave move for Shafs.  The recession was threatening the success of the Leicester’s Cultural Quarter and it risked being stuck in a backwater. Things might have improved somewhat but even today some 600 Indian restaurants have closed in the last 18 months. Nonetheless this upmarket venue has increasingly seemed the right restaurant in the right place.

Shafs has a lifetime in restaurants starting from the Shireen on London Road, an old school tandoori in the 80s, and also taking in Shimla Pinks – one of the new breed of Indian restaurants a decade or so later that so took a more modern  approach.  Along with co-owner Simon Postlethwaite he wanted to take  Chutney Ivy a step further and open a smart, stylish restaurant that just happened to serve Indian food.

I think it took a while to find its feet after opening in 2010 but now seems to be performing well – combining a smart a la carte menu woth a popular pre-theatre offering (if you haven’t realised, it’s virtually opposite Curve). It also  has a lovely downstairs bar which is popular for meetings, parties and weddings.  Great Food magazine declared it the best Inidian restaurant in the city,  it’s gained a Michelin listing, and to Shafs’ immense pride was shortlisted in the National Curry Awards last November.

They celebrated that success with this  press evening in conjunction with FU media and from tender chicken kebabs to a stunning lamb shank nihari (below)  and  some ginormous prawns (above),  the food was of high quality and deeply satisfying.  Another standout was the duck samosa – a dish which Shafs himself helped developed after thinking how he could translate a Chinese dish of crispy duck pancakes into an Indian format.

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Chutney Ivy is not the cheapest restaurant in town but you can definitely see where your money is going here. Great ingredients and some flair and imagination in the kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comedy festival cook-off

February 5, 2013

At 2pm on a Saturday I’m generally twitching with nerves with the build up to City’s next tilt at joining the monstrous Premiership circus. If you are somewhat more relaxed, you might like to consider popping down to Chutney Ivy over the next three Saturdays for a comedy cooking event. The Halford St restaurant is sort of rebranded as Dave’s Curry House for the duration of the Leicester Comedy Festival and on three Saturday afternoons hosts cook-offs between pairs of comedians under direction of manager Shaf Islam.

Dave's curry
The events are free but ticketed and kick-off is 2pm. You can book and see full details here.

Should be worth it just to see how the comics manage to shoehorn a Richard III/carpark reference into the cooking of a curry. Speaking of which, Richard Buckley (I know you are out there) – many congratulations. We’re very proud of you.

And one more thing, congratulations also to Jaimon Thomas of Kayal, who has now opened the fourth branch of the Keralan restaurant and the first in that there South. The new branch is in West Byfleet, a few yards off the M25 near Woking.

The Big Eat (again)

January 24, 2012

Good news that the One Leicester campaign has revived its Big Eat initiative that sees many if not most of the City centre’s restaurants run two-for-one type special offers on the same evening.  Last year it brought full tables and something of a buzz to the whole city city centre. This year it’s been brought forward to coincide with the Leicester, sorry, Dave’s Leicester Festival so there’s every reason to combine the two for a cracking night out.

Most of the restuarants require advance booking for the offers and the precise offer does vary so you’ll need to check on the website One Leicester.  Among the most interesting are two for one main courses at Kayal (when ordering two courses), two for one on a special menu and live Indian music at Chutney Ivy and 30 per cent off the food bill at Cedars Lebenese (plus belly dancing).  Many of the chains, independent restaurants and cafes are also running offers.

If you are still swithering then its worth bearing in mind that there will be free parking  at the Newarke Street, Haymarket and Dover Street car parks after 6pm.

 

 

The Big Eat

September 29, 2011

I’ve somehow seemed to miss out on the early publicity for this, but Leicester’s Big Eat looks like a worthwhile intiative. On 6 October 40-odd restaurants, cafe and bars  in the city centre will be doing two-for-ones or other special offers and events. This includes venues such as Chutney Ivy (which will have Indian and English singers in for the night) Kayal, The Case, The Boot Room, Rutland and Derby and Cedars Lebenese which be hosting belly dancing. The precise offer varies so make sure you have a browse of the offical information (Click here).

Given the depressing news this week about the failure to thrive of Market Corner, it would be good to have the city heaving with people enjoying their food.

 

More good news for Leicester’s Cultural Quarter. Shortly to open on Rutland Street  is Lanna Thai, not just an upmarket Thai restaurant but a “media performance centre” to boot.  The  venue is situated in the Leather Factors, that glorious  Rennie Mackintosh-style building between Curve and the old Helsinki bar. The upper part of the building was converted into smart,  short-let apartments about the time of the construction of Curve and the new restaurant will be over two lower floors, with developers promising that historic features have been  maintained and renovated, such as the rear glass curtain wall which will feature a “stunning 5m cascade of white Thai orchids”. 

The media performance centre is on the lower ground floor, accessed through the restaurant and can be decked out with tables,  sofas, a stage or a catwalk  for private dinners, exhibitions, performances launches, parties, cinema screenings, comedy, dance  – there’s a sprung floor –  and so on.  Total capacity at the venue will be around 160.

This week I’ve been to the Cultural Quarter for a sell-out afternoon film at Phoenix Square, a near sell-out opera at Curve, and am going to a social media seminar at LCB Depot this early evening, followed by dinner at the newly-opened Chutney Ivy.  With the Xchange Bar set to open in December, a hotel soon after and now this intriguing new venue, it feels the area might – despite economic gloom – just starting to be coming into its own.

Chutney Ivy

October 30, 2010

 

[Update 19/2/11 – Groupon people looking for reviews  – why not come back here once  you’ve been and give your views in a comment?] 

Chutney Ivy, the Indian restaurant located in what was once The Quarter near Leicester’s Curve theatre, has made a  low-key start this week, offering a lunchtime buffet at an introductory price of £4.95. Following the recommendation of a reader – thanks  Ben – I gave it a go and was rather pleased I did.

First off, the restaurant has kept the same layout  – a single large, airy room, bar area at one end and an open kitchen. The decor has been given a slight overhaul – sort of  purple and creams  – but it maintains the smart, contemporary feel of its predecessor. The downstairs bar has also been given a makeover and will still be available for those wanting a drink in a smart  hideaway.

The buffet lunch seems a smart move – they offer just a few dishes, cooked in small batches that can be replenished quickly by the chefs behind the coutner.  Starters were a moist, peppery  chicken pakora, thinly sliced potato bhaji  in a very light batter and well-cooked  aubergine bhaji. Poppadums and relishes were there too.  Mains included a creamy korma and what our  friendly waiter discribed simply as chicken curry and kofta curry. All three were good  – distinctive, well-flavoured and nicely spiced. The lamb kofta in particular was excellent. There were also three vegetarian dishes  though I only had some of chickpeas, which needed a bit more bite left in them to my taste.  Rice and frehly prepared naan breads were good.

So, nothing groundbreaking on this evidence but I tasted enough to want to go back to sample the a la carte offering  that will be available in the evening. No menu available as yet though they did promise to email one through soon. Staff were pleasant and seemed eager to please. They obviously haven’t quite got all their routines worked out yet – I had to ask for my change to be returned – but that’s why they sensibly seem to have gone for the soft launch.  Nice restaurant, think it could  do well.

Cultural Quarter

October 2, 2010

Good to see the premises formerly known as the Quarter are about to re-open as a bar and Indian restaurant called Chutney Ivy. And word on the street is that Cassie from Entropy is opening a bar (“Xchange”) in the Exchange buildings a few doors down – this is the splendid “flat-iron” building opposite the entrance to Curve.  

It’s important for Leicester that the area thrives and buisnesses like this are needed. If Ramada/Butterfly could just increase the pace and open their 115 -room Encore hotel on Rutland Street we might just start to see the elusive critical mass kick in to the benefit of the beleaguered Phoenix Square and Curve. The stated December 2010 date suggested looks somewhat optimistic to me, from the street anyway.    

No sign of a website  or menu up at Chutney Ivy yet  but initial impressions suggest upmarket rather than cheap and cheerful.

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