Please note, Dip in Brilliant has now closed. Time Out Food editors, July 2019.
From the family behind Punjabi restaurant Brilliant in Southall comes this new outpost next to Stamford Bridge. It lives up to expectations. It’s got a casual feel and a short menu dominated by Indian sharing plates (including a vegan selection). The look is no-frills – which lets the hearty food take centre-stage.
On my visit (a non-match day), there was a calmness about the place. Smooth background Bollywood beats were punctuated by chatter from diners, and service was lovely and unhurried.
Starters set the bar high: the special spiced sea bass, served atop curried vegetables, was pan-fried to perfection and brought a lip-smacking kick of heat. The cool papri chaat worked magically alongside it – chickpea and potato spliced with crunchy savoury vermicelli, tangy tamarind and soothing yoghurt. Six pani puri came balanced on top of shot glasses of tamarind and mint-flavoured water – you’re supposed to pour the water into the puri and pop it in your gob. Getting it in tidily was a challenge, but oh my, it was worth it.
Mains, which we ate on steel thali plates, were almost as good. Tandoori chicken tikka was a miniature saucepan of tender meat soaked in a thick, spicy sauce. But given the £10 price tag, it could have been bigger. Other minor disappointments included forgettable chickpea and potato curry, and batura (traditional north Indian bread) that was both too oily and not fluffy enough.
Dessert, though, was terrific; the innovative jalebi ice cream – snow-white scoops flecked with chunks of the swirly orange Indian treat – was both fresh-tasting and not overly sweet. It was impressive that Dipna Anand (the restaurant’s founder; her dad Bishen Dass opened the Southall restaurant in 1975) was personally checking in with diners at every table. Yes, prices are a tad higher here, but fans will be pleased to know that this restaurant, which shares the same chefs, is nearly as brilliant as the first.