Well, as I mentioned last Thursday, P and I have now been a couple for five who years. Hard to believe, right? Naturally, we couldn’t let such an event pass without some kind of celebration and so we found ourselves visiting Horn Please for a delicious meal.
Horn Please hadn’t been open long before I started hearing great things about it. Mostly what I heard was along the lines of, “it’s curry tapas, but the menu is different to anywhere else you’ve been.” I love tapas, I love curry and I love new and unusual menus so it was only a matter of time before I ended up here.
So, when P and I couldn’t decide where to go for our anniversary meal and I asked Twitter and got a million great suggestions, I wasn’t surprised that Horn Please was one of them, and I was glad to be reminded of it. By the way, if you want recommendations for places to eat in your area, I strongly recommend asking Twitter – you’ll end up with a killer list of ideas. I expect to be working my way through the suggestions I got for a fair while to come.
Anyway, I went online and booked a table on Horn Please’s website via opentable.com and at 8 pm we showed up to a completely empty restaurant. I should have known, really. Given that our anniversary falls on 5th January, places are often quiet if not empty when we plan our anniversary meal. I was a little worried about it being awkward but I needn’t have been, our waitress was friendly and helpful when we needed her and practically absent when we didn’t, which nicely prevented that feeling of being watched as the only couple in the restaurant. The only difference it made was that a couple of dishes weren’t available yet as this was their first night open.
No big deal. We glanced around the restaurant (wicker furniture, bare brick, tongue-in-cheek slogans; very hipster) and ordered a bottle of wine. Soon we were checking out the menu. I made an executive decision and informed P that we would be sharing the bread pakora for our starter. I have been seeing the bread pakora from Horn Please everywhere and I knew I had to try it. Really, it’s toastie pakora, with fillings of either chorizo or salmon and, as it turns out, it is goooooooood. Even P, not normally a fan of the strong flavours of chorizo or salmon, enjoyed both fillings. So yeah, we’ll likely get that again at some point.
The special was curried pea and paneer with raita and paratha, which we ordered, and we also chose the grilled duck breast in butter sauce and the crusted lamb rack with spinach and potato and tomato and coconut sauce. Plus an extra side of paratha. Having not eaten here before I had no idea if we’d over or under-ordered but our waitress said we’d probably got it about right but could always order another round if we wanted to.
The paneer special was good and nicely offset the carnivorous aspects of the rest of the meal. Like the other dishes, it wasn’t especially hot, but nicely spiced and flavoursome. I love raita and this was fresh and smooth, so it was good to have that along with the meal.
The crusted lamb rack was also pretty darn great, the lamb just slightly pink and incredibly tender. Oh, and that bed of spinach and potato was way too moreish – I have kind of a thing about curried potato and this went really well with the lamb and I found myself racing P to scoop up the last of it onto paratha.
The main event, though, was definitely the duck. There’s no way around it. My only regret was that we didn’t order it twice. It was ridiculously good. It was seared, perfectly cooked, pink on the inside and absolutely delicious. Plus, it was soaked in this incredible sauce. I’ve made butter chicken from recipe books and I’ve had a professional cook school session in which I was taught to make butter chicken – I have never come close to making a sauce like this. I don’t know what they put in it but I can’t help wondering if it’s illegal. I am trying to come up with excuses to go back and eat more of it.
We mopped up the last of the sauces with the paratha and sat back, very happy. The amount we had ordered turned out to be exactly right for us. Until our waitress came back and asked if we’d like to see the dessert menu and I remembered that, technically, dessert goes in a different stomach, so I should probably get some. I opted for the green cardamom pannacotta with grilled peaches and white chocolate rabdi because of course I did.
This, naturally, was a very creamy dish, but the peaches were great in contrast to the pannacotta and the chocolate and prevented it from feeling too heavy. I love the use of cardamoms in desserts (I recommend a couple of seeds crushed into custard) so it was a safe bet that I was going to enjoy this, and I absolutely did. It was the perfect finish to our meal.
Horn Please was a great spot for us to celebrate our anniversary and I’m sure we’ll be back. Certainly, it’s a different take on curry tapas to anything I’ve seen before and there are plenty of things on the menu I still want to try.