Everest Dine

September 15, 2015

Just catching up on some of my reviews from the Mercury which I’ve failed to post here. The digested read for this one:  good quality food,  and sufficiently different and interesting from usual fare to warrant a short diversion to Belgrave Gate.

Everest Dine has been going a few years now.  I’ve never actually been though – partly I suspect because it’s slightly off my mental map down at the bottom end of Charles Street and round the corner on to Belgrave Gate. Not even that area’s most ardent defenders – should there be any – could call it the most picturesque part of town. Also, when I ventured to the restaurant which had previously inhabited the building, I did not enjoy the experience.

Having seen Everest Dine’s stall  at this summer’s Leicester Food Festival I was prompted to pay a visit though. Not least because they had been hawking the Nepalese speciality momos, gorgeous little stuffed dumplings. The simple idea of pastry wrapped around a filling exists in most food cultures – from the South American empanada to the Polish pierogi, the Indian Samosa and the Cornish pasty. The momo shows the influence of Tibetan food crossing the Himalayas – little steamed buns made with a simple flour and water dough and a spicy filling.

(from Everest Dine's website)

(from Everest Dine’s website)

This was always going to be my starter here and they were fabulous – a slippery, delicate covering and a fine minced lamb filling seasoned with some really lively green herbs. With a pokey tomato chutney they were a great way to start a meal. There’s a warning of a 20-minute wait while they are hand-made but on our Saturday night visit there was no delay.

I thought I’d won handsomely on the starter stakes but friends were just as impressed with their Nepalese specialities. Lamb choyla had a pleasant, if to my mind unremarkable, concoction of marinated and grilled lamb with fenugreek and mustard oil, but which was given a big lift by being paired with crispy flat rice. This is where the grain has been dehusked and flattened into little flakes and then fried to make them crispy. It’s popular across the subcontinent and here you could see why – giving good flavour and providing texture.

Also going down very well was “mushroom special” featuring very neat little breaded parcels of destalked mushrooms with the cavity filled with spicy lamb mince, with a tangy tamarind chutney.

As you might be getting the idea, the attraction of Everest Dine is not just that you are getting well-made, well-spiced food, but that for most British diners at least you are getting a new twist on a familiar cuisine. The menu does have a mix-and-match collection of standard curry house dishes tucked away somewhere but there’s little point coming here and not ordering from the Nepali section.

I needed something light as a main course and found it with haravara salad. The chicken, lightly marinated in cream and nuts and roasted in a tandoor, was tender and delicate and a minty, youghurty relish was good but the green salad was pretty perfunctory – undressed leaves with chunks of carrot and cucumber. A dish that needed a bit more thought and effort really.

My friends’ curries were both excellent with lively and vibrant spicing. The meat in the lamb Gurkhali was exceptionally tender, far better than routinely encountered, and was in a sauce fiery with green chillis but which still gave out little hits of subtler spices too. Stir-fried duck with garam masala and cherry tomatoes was more in a Southern Indian style and also packed a lot of heat while keeping distinctive flavours too.

The restaurant is quite grand in style – huge gilt mirrors, large chandeliers, a sweeping staircase up to a function room – but it’s far from intimidating. Service is cheerful but respectful and there’s a family-friendly, unpretentious vibe about the place. If you are in any way bored with your regular venue, or you simply want to sample some intriguing and good quality food, it’s worth a short diversion.

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