Meeting up with my good friend Charlie in London this weekend, we decided to take up the opportunity to try something different. We headed to Diwana, a vegetarian restaurant in Euston. This place has quite a cult following in the vegetarian scene and has a lot of respect from people all over London.
Its not usually my kind of thing, being a massive meat eater, but considering that a majority of Indian people all over the world are vegetarian I thought I could learn more about the culture I love so much by coming here.
The place is easy to miss on a busy and lively street, but the building still has a lot of charm in itself.
It promotes a buffet menu on a sign outside for a reasonable £6.95 which I have yet to try.
We walked in on a bustling Friday night without a reservation and was still seated at a nice table. The place goes with a very wooden theme all over, which gives it a very warm, yet slightly bland feel.
Wooden table, wooden floor, wooden walls. It works in its simplistic minimalism.
Sadly for me the tables we were seated on were very small. For a chap of 6'4 I felt quite uncomfortable for most of the experience. I was not going to let this dampen my spirit though as I was very excited to try something new!
Being quite inexperienced with vegetarianism I decided to order a set menu with multiple dishes, so I could sample a bit of everything. I was surprised to see how reasonably priced everything was on the menu. My Thali-annapuena house special was a mere £8.60.
The Thali-annapuena comes with rice, dal, two vegetables, one farsan, papad, raita, shrikhand, mango pickle and chapattis. So as you can see, the selection was very good value. My friend went for the Masala Dosa, which is a flemented crepe made from rice batter, which is one of my favourites and something I would normally go for in the more British Indian restaurants, but I was on a mission to try something new, so I gave it a pass.
We ordered some drinks while we waited for our food. My friend had a coke and I decided to go for a lassi - A yoghurt based drink which I tried once before at The Meghna in Cambridge and really enjoyed.
Lassi - A yogurt based drink.
Part of my order came with something called Papad, which came out with our drinks. To most people a papad is basically a poppadom, which was accompanied by several side sauces. It was a great appetiser and gave us something to nibble on while we waited for our mains. The side sauces were things you would expect to see in the average Indian restaurant in the UK.
Mango chutney, lime pickle, yogurt and an onion salad. Every single sauce was fantastic, especially the onion salad, which was simply sublime. The only criticism for me was that the yoghurt was a little runny. It certainly went down a treat either way!
The moment we had finished with our Papad they brought out our mains. They certainly don't screw around here! The place did have a bit of a fast food feel to it but was by no means fast food in quality. Our food was well presented, had a great selection, and looked fantastic.
I really wasn't too sure what I was eating in this dish, or how I was supposed to eat it. I decided to try everything individually and judge it on its own merit. I really loved the Dal, Farsan, Pooris, and the Papad which came before as an appetiser. The Shrikhand was just a little unusual for me and a little sweet. I usually like yoghurt based food but this was just a little too thick for me and didn't seem to go with the rest of the dishes.
I enjoyed almost everything I tried, which I was quite surprised about considering I was a fish out of water here. Even the Shrikhand was something I could appreciate was well made, even though it was not my cup of tea. I managed to eat everything and felt incredibly full when done. We certainly both felt like we had a great meal and we both acknowledged that we had gotten a good deal on the food. This combined with the fast service, there really wasn't anything to fault.
I decided to have desert, in the spirit of trying as much as I could in a new place. So went for the Rasamalai. A milk based sweet garnished with nuts, which came to a respectable £2.60. Again, very nice, well presented and not too big. I really don't need to order a massive (and by default expensive) dessert after a meal. I simply want something sweet after the savoury. Which this executed perfectly.
We both had a hot drink after. I had a chai coffee and my friend had a lemon tea. Again, something which was brought out quickly, was well presented and was full of flavour. The staff at Diwana seem to have the routine of this establishment down perfectly. If you really wanted too you could have all three courses and a coffee within an hour and be out. Yet at the same time you never felt like you were rushed. Which was incredible considering how busy the place was. Bravo guys!
When we left we were given some chocolates and a very reasonable bill.
Even though this is not really my kind of place, I really learned a lot today and I am glad I tried it. I think a lot of places could learn a thing or two from this place. Other than a small table and chair for me to sit on, I really couldnt find anything to fault.
The service was fast, yet you didn't feel rushed. They were cheap, yet you got a good meal. The food was all quality and not a single thing disappointed me, even though this is not the kind of food I generally go for.
For the sake of criticism, I suppose the only thing I would have liked to have seen was a little more friendly chat from the staff, though, understandably, they were very busy on a Friday night, so it can be forgiven. I am really struggling to find faults as you can see!
Highly recommended, vegetarian or not!
Thanks for reading!