Talli Joe

Restaurants, Indian Covent Garden
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 out of 5 stars
(27user reviews)
123 Love It
Save it
1/13
2/13
3/13
4/13
5/13
6/13
7/13
8/13
9/13
10/13
11/13
12/13
13/13

A small-plates Indian restaurant and cocktail bar in Theatreland.

Books. Covers.You know what to do. Or, rather what not to. Yet it’s hard not to get a bit judge-y over somewhere that has both a silly name and (ugh) a ‘concept’. The one at Talli Joe, splashed across signage, website and menus,  is to offer ‘Indian half plates + full drinks’ (don’t you just mean ‘small plates’ and, er, ‘drinks’?). What’s more, when I walk in, I can’t help but clock the lights are too bright, the air con too cold. Not a great start.

But guess what? This new regional Indian ‘small plates and cocktails’ joint (because that’s what Talli Joe actually is) gets two crucial things right: the food and service. 

This is bright, bold cooking designed to enchant both tastebuds and soul. One of my favourite dishes was the Goan pork and ‘offal’ curry, made mostly with shoulder and belly meat, but also enough heart and liver to give it an exceptional depth of flavour and texture. Also excellent was a crab ‘scotch egg’, the warmly spiced crustacean’s meat wrapped around a soft, almost-runny quail’s egg, its yolk the colour of marigolds. 

For something more prosaic, try the seafood curry. I loved it that, simmering in the mild, fragrant sauce, were not just prawns, koli and squid, but a handful of drumsticks – no, not the cluck-cluck kind, but the green veg variety traditional in south Indian cooking (picture hard-skinned celery sticks: you scrape out the soft, mild flesh and put the rest aside). It’s this commitment to spot-on sourcing that gives Talli Joe its edge. 

Case in point: the gajar halwa – a sweet, milky carrot pudding – is made not with bog-standard orange carrots, oh no, but with heritage purple carrots, giving this dessert a thrilling, almost ebony hue. It is, by the way, absolutely moreish and delicious. Prepare to guard it with your fork (stabbing optional).  

As for the cocktails – they’re fine. But in spite of its special ‘cocktail pairing’ menu and bright, contemporary decor (comparisons with Dishoom are inevitable: the setting here is less glamorous but the food is better), this is not a bar. Not really. But the fact it takes bookings and has nothing-too-much-trouble service adds to its appeal.

All Talli Joe needs now is a decent set menu (currently it’s à la carte only: excellent value at dinner but too dear for lunch) and it might just win me over completely. 

More Less
Talli Joe says
Talli Joe is a dining and drinking destination, taking Londoners on a journey of discovery through modern India. We specialise in diverse, regional 'half-plates' such as tandoori guineafowl, kale chaat and devilled quail egg, all served with a host of exciting, Indian-style cocktails.
More Less

By: Tania Ballantine

Posted:

Venue name: Talli Joe
Address: 152-156 Shaftesbury Avenue
London
WC2H 8HL
Transport: Tube: Leicester Square
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £65.
Do you own this business?
To improve this listing email: feedback@timeout.com

Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:20
  • 4 star:7
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|27
1 person listening
LeeLee
tastemaker

Between the two of us, we shared four different dishes:

  1. Truffle Ghee Kulcha - One serving of this came with one slice of naan stuffed with cottage cheese and brushed generously with truffle ghee. It also came with a small serving of mint sauce, which I really liked! We ordered two of these because each one was pretty small and we had dishes with gravy, which paired well to soak up the juices. 
  2. Chicken 21 - This was almost like an Indian version of fried chicken with loads of aromatic spices, which was lovely! The pieces of chicken had a crispy exterior, juicy interior and were all covered evenly in the spices and curry leaves. 
  3. Gol Baari Kosha Mangsho - A sort of lamb curry served with two pieces of bread-like poppadum. This was pretty spicy, even for me, but so so delicious! There was so much flavour in the thick sauce and the pieces of lamb were really tender and easy to eat. This went well with the Truffle Ghee Kulcha, especially when you use your hands to scoop up the meat and sauce! 
  4. Romy Gill's Mutter Kachori Chaat - A flat bread stuffed with green peas and topped with masala white peas, sweet yogurt, pomegranate and sweet tamarind sauce. This was something new for me, as I'm more used to South Indian food, as that's what we get more of in Singapore. But it was delicious too and the yogurt helped to cool down our palettes after that spicy lamb curry!

As for drinks, we both went for a Gin & Tonic made with their house-made Rose Tonic Water. I liked this because the amount of gin was just right, enough to taste but not too overpowering, and the rose flavour in the tonic water wasn't too sweet. It added a nice colour to the overall drink and it came in a reasonable size. 


The service was lovely, we had a really nice waiter and the host was nice to let us switch tables, as we were given a high table with bar stools, which we didn't quite enjoy. However, the table we did get was far too close to the others around! It was hard to move in and out of our seats and there wasn't enough space to place our bags and coats, which made it awkward for those sitting next to us and when it came to eating.


Definitely a restaurant I'll be recommending and returning to!

lizzie.williamson
Tastemaker

This place serves some of the best Indian food I've had, beating the likes of Gunpowder and Dishoom hands down.  The concept of half plates with cocktails (although a little gimmicky) was a big draw I must admit however I didn't actually drink (except tonnes of water as most of the dishes have a kick) while there. The cocktail menu looked good and all were priced between the £8-10 mark. Food wise - wow. The half plates really are all small portions however each one was full of flavour and something a bit different. Some stand outs were the kale chat (crispy fried kale served with yoghurt and a sweet dip), truffle naan stuffed with cheese, pea stuffed shortbread in a pea curry sauce, their lamb chop and their daal. The papad to nibble on while choosing food were good (a poppadom replacement) and also their corn salsa. 

Without drink the bill came to just under £50 with tip and we weren't quite stuffed (2 nibbles, 6 dishes and 2 desserts)! This did include 2 delicious desserts malai (described as a baked yoghurt but relaly more like a lemon posset) and halwa (described as baked carrot but tasted like a delicious carrot cake with peanut brittle on top, mmmm). 

Overall a delicious meal, a little on the pricey side for some dishes, with lovely friendly service - I will definitely be back. The only thing that lets it down is the ambiance (I think it is the lighting but I can't quite put my finger on it!). 

Rosa P

Myself and my team from work come here for our end of month team lunch. The meal itself was really good. I shared the Kale Chatt, the lamb chop, nann stuffed with cottage cheese and truffle ghee, banana leaf wrapped seabass and chicken bhori and we both had a glass of wine each with service charge we paid £24 each. Which we was both happy with. The atmosphere was a little quiet, but the service was really attentive and quick! I would recommend here for sure and will be going back!

Milav M

Amazing food - Indian dishes with a twist, buzzing atmosphere, great staff!

Luke S

it's a great place, great atmosphere, great service and the food/drinks are absolutely gorgeous.

Jessica P

Great find.  Buzzy little restaurant, with attentive service.  Nice range of cocktails and some beautiful morsels of small plates.  Tried the pickles to start, the lamb chop was succulently cooked to perfection and the seafood curry was a sure favourite...Will definitely go again!

Priya B

Great tasting food! took some friends last night who all agreed it's the best Indian meal they have had in London.

Vivek S

Very Soon, Talli Joe will be known across London fir its Awesome and innovative cocktail... Served with happiness

Most of food menu are hand picked from day to day household food items in 6 Indian cuisine, very well improvised (stirred but not shaken) and innovative servicing...

Very high recommendation for anyone who love good time , good food and good drink...

Simply, Talli Joe

Rajesh D

The sheer creativity of working out the dishes and cuisine, and naming them... one feels as if she's on a bustling street downtown in a typical Indian city...or at a fine dine upmarket...all at the same place. that's different, and I'd plump for this any day!!

Amoldeep A

Amazing food and lovely service. Ticks every box for a wonderful evening out with friends and family

Jon D

So many fantastic dishes to choose from! 

Great service from the staff at Talli Joe who looked after us for a team lunch with over 10 people. Cocktails flow and delicious food arriving in a timely fashion. 

I tried a lot of the dishes with some many of us sharing. Top for me was the Chicken 21 that has a lovely kick to it and the fresh whitebait that was extremely morish. The lamb chop and deep fried kale looked great too with positive feedback. 

My intial though was the portions looked a bit small but to be honest, 2 plates was plenty. I couldn't eat anymore and left satisfied with my taste buds tingly for what I will order on my next visit.

Dee
Tastemaker

Places like this is what I love most about London. Amazing world cuisine, from a part of the world maybe you haven't even heard of before, comes to Shaftesbury Avenue, gets a little Londonified, and is served with the friendliest service. They name their cuisine half plates and full drinks. Plates to share and drinks to match and wash them down with. Beware of the heat of some of the dishes because I had to order extra yogurt to cool my tongue off at some point; but this is never a complaint. Their bone marrow gets high praise, but what impressed me was the fried kale and the Kochi beef fry. Really delicious food in an exotic atmosphere, it makes you forget about the rest of the world and transport to India.

Lucy H

I visited Talli Joe for the first time today and will most definitely return. Every dish on the menu excited me, not to mention the amazing array of fresh cocktails on offer. I would without doubt recommend their kale dish and also the crab meat and quails scotch egg. The staff were all so helpful, not only friendly but supplying me with recommendations as I could not narrow it down to just three dishes that I wanted to try! Thank you for a wonderful lunch.

Reena P
tastemaker

Inspired by the dive bars in India, Shaftesbury Avenue’s Talli Joe is the exciting new venture of ex-Benares chef Sameer Taneja. Expect small plates and an extensive cocktail menu incorporating ingredients from different regions in India, including some very unique ingredients, such as biriyani oil. Never thought I’d have that in my cocktail! The menu includes a variety of creative dishes, with lots of veggie friendly options:


Dhokla salad– Steamed gram flour cake, kolrabi and nuts. This was one of my favourites of the night. I’ve had dhokla before, but not prepared in this way- the salad was a party! The flavourful and slightly sweet dressing gave the dish a fun kick.

Messy ThokkuOrganic egg pickle, Andhra spices and puff roti. I won’t lie, when I first read egg pickle on the menu, I thought this sounded very strange. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this dish. It was similar to spicy scrambled eggs. The pickle flavour and spices created an intense flavour but it was not overpowering. I also enjoyed the crispy, flaky puff roti.

Lawrence Road Kulcha– Naan stuffed with cottage cheese and truffle ghee. The winner. I wish I could get my hands on this naan right now. We re-ordered this around four times (the portions are small so no judgement please) and it seemed to be a hit with the other diners. I noticed this as I nosily peaked at what other tables had ordered. I haven’t seen truffle and naan paired together before, let alone on an Indian menu, but I’m glad it finally has. Great combo.

Mirchi Baji – Inside Out – Chilli coated in mashed root vegetables. This was good but probably the least memorable dish. Quite spicy which overpowers the flavours from the root vegetables.

Black gajar halwa – heritage black carrot and salted peanut crunch. This is a take on a classic Indian carrot halwa dessert. We all really enjoyed this, even my friend with a very selective sweet tooth.

Berry Malai – baked yoghurt, seasonal berries. This was tasty and similar to the classic Indian dessert shrikand. I’m a big shrikand fan so this was a good sweet ending for me.


Overall flavourful food, small portions and a fun tapas style dining experience. Perfect for a light meal, but if you're hungry it could cost you a pretty penny.  



Jason James

An excellent little place close to where I work. Stunningly good Indian food (bit like Dishoom) and awesome cocktails. Half plates means basically tapas but portions are pretty generous so don't over-order. Lovely staff too, and a nice look. Definitely be back soon - and definitely for the Chicken 21. It's delish.

Rafik M

Located on Shatesbury avenue - Leicester square and Covent Garden being the closest, if you want to build an appetite, walk from Piccadilly or Tottenham Court road stations. 

Has the Spanish Tapas feel with half plates. Popped in for lunch - was an absolute great experience., from the welcoming staff to the very friendly owner. Choices for half plates -  The Kale chaat - crispy kale with a lovely flavored yogurt. White Bait Kempu - what little gems, not to oily and accompanied with a lovely mayo. Chicken 21 definitely one to pick, spicy and has a lovely crisp bite, I have found out this was mums recipe, finger licking or fork licking good. The Red Mullet (Tali Machi) is also a must, not served with Lemon but with an orange, changes the dynamic of flavors. I could go on. 

When you tag 3 friends you receive a complimentary cocktail - I was presented with a Badnam Milk Punch (an almond and cashew puree in a saffron infused milk syrup (i got that from the menu), they don't skimp on the whisky used - saw a 12 year Chivas Regal being poured. What a touch. 

By yourself or in a group worth the visit.


I'll be back in the next week for sure, just with a larger group so we can try every dish. 

Thamena  M
Staff Writer

I came to Talli Joe one evening just before they were about to close. i loved everything about it! service was great, staff were very friendly and did not rush us to finish, as you find some restaurants do. we ordered the Kale chaat, roti sabzi, truffle ghee kulcha, chicken 21, bohri chicken and gol baari kosha mangsho. Everything was cooked to perfection. we also ordered some rice and naan on the side. total bill came to £75 with drinks which was great value for money. i highly recommend this place to anyone. 

Carly-Ann Clements
Staff Writer

Located on the busy yet fairly sparse end of Shaftesbury Avenue, I was expecting the usual thrown together decor and cheap signage you usually find in this area; so I was pleasantly surprised when I entered and found a contemporary canteen with clean pops of colour and hip chrome trimmings. 


The idea is pretty simple: Indian-inspired tapas dishes and cocktails. The incredibly friendly staff not only explained how it all worked but recommended that we have five dishes between the two of us and the best items on the menu. The meal was pretty much spot on. The crispy Kale Chaat with yogurt, pomegranate and potato was a particular favourite along with the bitsized battered nuggets of Chicken 21 which were tender and packed full of flavour. The only problem is, it was onion city and as someone who can't eat many onions, it was just a little overwhelming. That aside, I left comfortably fed and £20 lighter. Considering the food, I do think it does air on the pricey side but I wouldn't be opposed to visiting again.

Harriet

I popped in to Talli Joe today for some lunch and absolutely loved everything about it. We shared 4 plates between two, which was plenty for lunch - The Kale Chaa, the Whitebait Kempu, Chicken 21 and the Kochi Beef Fry. All were delicious and beautifully presented and as they were brought out one plate at a time, we were able to really appreciate the flavour of each and every dish. Our bill came to about £25 for two cocktails and four dishes, so it was fantastic value for money, especially considering the location and quality of the food. The interior is lovely and the staff welcoming and friendly and I will go again and again and again. I couldn't recommend them highly enough!

Matilda Egere-Cooper

I popped into recently for a quick lunch and I was impressed by the style of the place - it's super classy. No surprise then that you can end up spending loads. The small plates are delicious and beautiful, yet if you're after a budget lunch, you're better off going elsewhere. File this one under 'fancy dinner places'.