Mint Leaf

Restaurants, Indian Trafalgar Square
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Mint Leaf offers a sophisticated take on traditional Indian cuisine. Chef Rajinder Pander mixes traditional Indian cuisine and ingredients with modern techniques, creating colourful and attractive plates. The venue boasts a cocktail bar, too.

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Venue name: Mint Leaf
Contact:
Address: 4 Suffolk Place
London
SW1Y 4HX
Transport: Tube: Charing Cross
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Tastemaker

If you’re training for a marathon and in need of carb-loading as excessively dramatic as Kim Kardashian’s need for the spotlight, Mintleaf will see you right. In search of a reasonably priced pre-theatre menu for a Monday night dinner, I came here with relatively high hopes given that the menu looked far more interesting than the usual central London suspects but sadly it did not deliver as I’d hoped it would.

A vast, lowly lit and gently buzzing dining room greeted us as we descended from the streets of Haymarket above and a warm welcome marked out early on one of Mintleaf’s best features – friendly and polite staff. Two courses for £17.50 and 3 for £20 is a flat-out bargain in the heart of the capital but honestly, if you and your stomach make it through 3 courses, please, tell me how.

Venison naan had me dreaming of other recent flatbreads that had arrived on my plate and stalked my dreams, covered with toppings and slick with butter; when it turned up, it actually took me a few seconds to find the meat which was sandwiched between layers of thin bread. It was hard to get much flavour of the normally robust meat because it was so finely sliced and although the naan itself was light, puffy & crispy not to mention pretty enormous, I’m afraid it didn’t deliver the rich, savoury flavours I was expecting.

Chilli paneer was the second generously portioned course and the soft cubes of squidgy cheese were well flavoured with chilli, garlic & spring onion, all of which delivered a punch of spice and heat. Accompaniments were nowhere near as tasty though with the choice being either another sheet of naan or a (what turned out to be) far too large portion of plain basmati rice. I’m genuinely not sure how anyone reaches for the dessert menu as the combination of bread and rice both defeated me and left me feeling uncomfortably full which is a shame because the Dark Chocolate & Star Anise Mousse sounded fragrant & beautiful. I also found the pricing somewhat out of kilter – two courses for £17.50 but £6.00 for a side of broccoli? Really?

Mintleaf caters well to vegetarians with 1 out of 4 starters and 2 out of 4 mains ticking that box and if what you’re after are vast servings of perfectly acceptable food, then you’ll get on just fine here. Given its central location and proximity to theatres, cinemas and nightclubs, I thought this might be more of a drinkers than a diners destination but be warned – at £12.50 for the cheapest G&T, I imagine the prices would prohibit more than one drink which will be clung onto long after the ice-cubes have melted and the sliced lemon wilted.

I love trying a new place as much as the next over-eager eater but restaurants like this remind me why places like Pizza Express will never go out of business. A menu is only as good as its’ execution which here unfortunately proved to be filling rather than fabulous, something that felt as though it was down to lack of care rather than skill which in some ways makes it even more disappointing.