Food 8.5 Drink 7.5 Atmosphere: 9 Overall 8.5

Fancy an Indian with a twist this weekend? Fed up of the sloppy homemade chickpea fodder you keep telling yourself is as good as a takeaway? Look no further – do the sensible thing and book yourself a table at Nutmeg. Nestled within the quaint environs of Clifton Village, this sophisticated eatery pushes the boundaries of your typical Indian restaurant, flying the flag for all 29 states which make up the country.

Nutmeg doesn’t look like your typical Indian establishment either: the room glows from the bright technicolour mural that adorns the feature wall, whilst twinkling fairy lights and a balcony good enough for Bollywood Juliet overlooks the restaurant, bringing an admiringly romantic quality to the space.

Covering Indian cuisine from Kerala to Rajastan, the menu stays clear from the standard Northern cuisine engrained in British-Indian menus. ‘Menu 29’ is a colourful showground of sweet, spicy, and everything in between – there’s no opting for a tikka masala since there’s such varied, vibrant dishes waiting to be discovered. The menu, somewhat challenging considering western pre-notions, is a delight to read nonetheless. Sweet potato and green peas in a light, creamy coconut sauce with mustard, fresh curry leaves and tamarind? Yes please. My meat-eating accomplice decided on the Methi Chicken, cooked in a herby fenugreek sauce with ground chillies, spinach and a drizzle of cream. Pairing our mains with a compulsory side peshwari naan, we floated away on a fluffy saffron rice cloud...

Whilst waiting for the mains, we happily munched on a generous bowl of poppadoms and an assortment of home-made sauces: beetroot and lime pickle, a spinach, mint and coriander number, as well as a zingy fresh green apple. Throughout the evening, my dip of preference continually altered (to my company’s annoyance) - whether it was the rich sweetness of the beetroot, or the relieving freshness of the apple, I kept finding myself going back for more…

The mains, however, were the real star of the show. My veggie curry originated from the southwest Indian state of Karnatak and was a compilation of everything I yearn for in a dish: a light creamy sauce -the perfect dipping vehicle for the superb peshwari- with delicious chunks of sweet potato, and dotted with vibrant green peas. It succeeded in its freshness and lightness, which consequently –much to my delight- left me with a little room for dessert, a rarity when it comes to eating an Indian. This was beyond a doubt the most interesting Indian dish I’ve had the pleasure of eating, the type of meal I’ve wished for but never had the chance to taste. In other words, if someone asked me right now, ‘if you could take one meal to a remote island, what would it be?’, all turmeric-stained, coconut-covered fingers would point to the above.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the table, my fellow diner made a bold statement, claiming the chicken was the tastiest, most tender meat he’d come across in years. As a veggie I obviously couldn’t comment, but to be fair to him it did look delicious. I may have snuck a sip of the fenugreek sauce and let’s just say it left me secretly desiring more…

Turning down dessert at a restaurant is acceptable, however turning down Nutmeg’s menu is immoral. Luckily, after a pinch of persuasion, I convinced my companion to order the Gulab Janum to share: two rose flavoured, spiced dough balls in a sugary syrup with a side of vanilla ice-cream. The tantalisingly sweet, fragrant flavours meant I savoured every bite. The portion was also bang-on, finishing the evening on a delightful note (we discussed on the walk home how a small, richly flavoured dessert is a lovelier sign off than a bulk of brownie).

Whether it was the sheer quality of food, or the two glasses of Pinot Gris doing its magic, I felt warmed and deeply appreciative of our evening spent at Nutmeg. Compliments must be paid not only to the chefs but the lovely staff, who with their boundless enthusiasm and wisdom, made the evening that little bit more special. After thanking the staff for a wonderful evening, I got chatting to one of the waiters, who jokily claimed she didn’t even like Indian food until she began working at the restaurant. I held a somewhat similar opinion before visiting; I was never too hot for an Indian takeaway but Nutmeg has really changed that around.

I could go on describing the fun complimentary music, the warm buzz of the atmosphere, or the smart and sinkable seats but you might as well see for yourself. All I’ll say is that it’s certainly a good sign when you’re banging on the next day about the delightful mouthfuls you’ve enjoyed the night before. I would recommend Nutmeg for a variety of occasions: perhaps an intimate birthday bash, a more formal dinner with visiting family, or maybe a treat-yourself night out when you’ve exhausted the Just Eat Indians and you’re feeling a little more classy…


 http://nutmegbristol.com/                                                                     10 The Mall, Clifton

Pictures: Nutmeg's Facebook page/ Instagram