Le roi est mort, vive le roi!
Arguably the acclamation, exclaimed as Charles VII’s accession to the throne was borne out, isn’t really apt here: Mint and Mustard, Chai Street’s paternal predecessor, is still alive and kicking (the butts of most Indian’s in Maindy / Cathays). But, such was the cacophony of hype surrounding the launch of the latest eatery on Cowbridge Road East, it felt as though the reign of Whitchurch Road’s was certainly on the wane, if not soon to be extinguished.
That won’t be the case though. Whilst, Chai Street’s lovely; it’s quaint, chintzy and a little bit too ‘plastic Indian’ too for my tastes, it’s destined to be a perennial ‘Harry’: a kooky younger brother, but unlikely to be heir to the throne. From the loud, poppy, bangra tunes to the hackneyed Bollywood film posters, it all felt a little bit, well, forced. What it does offer though is a great lunch. And that’s what we were there for!
I sat down with Marc Thomas, to try the place out and after browsing over the already dog-eared menu (Intentionally, maybe? The place has only been open for a week or so at this point!) we both plumped for the Chai Special Thali from the extensive choice available. And plumped we were… for a single main, what you get is a great taster menu of a bunch of different dishes served there. Stand outs, for me, were the punchy lamb curry and the lovely, light onion bhaji. And it’s really filling too.
We both polished our
plates metal trays, and left suitably sated. I think I’ll be back of an evening, with the long-haired general, to check out the evening vibe over a proper slap-up meal. But, for a lunchtime feed, whilst Chai Street is nice enough and you should definitely go, I’d urge people to also try out the nearby Madhav (no website), which is less than ten minutes stroll away and offers a more authentic experience, in my opinion.
One point of note though, is that Cowbridge Road East, is becoming a bit of a foodie destination. Moving away from the city centre, and in less than a mile’s worth of road, there’s now a Top 10 to choose from. You really should get out (of the city centre) more: Kimchi (Korean), Chai Street (Indian), Chez Francis (French), Purple Poppadom (Indian), Ichiban (Japanese), Bangkok Cafe (Thai), Falafel Wales (Lebanese), Happy Gathering (Chinese), Almada (Portuguese) and Duck Egg Bleu (Classic).