Visit: 13 May 2022, dinner for four people
Awards: 1 Michelin Star
This restaurant continues to serve exceptionally innovative, high quality, perfectly prepared dishes. When you visit Opheem, you know you are going to be amazed with the beautiful combinations of food and delicate spices.
Opheem is the only Michelin starred Indian restaurant outside of London. I’ve visited before and you can find my previous reviews here:
On this visit we chose the Spring ten-course tasting menu (£115 per person) and the 7-course wine flight (£85 per person). There is a 5-course tasting menu at £95 per person or a lunch a la carte menu if you prefer. The menu changes on a regular basis to reflect the seasonality of the produce.
We started with a very good selection of snacks, served with our pre-dinner drinks in the lounge. To begin, there was an excellent pumpkin tuile, with garlic crème fraiche, chive emulsion, and fermented chili pearls. Next, we had cured sea bass, puffed rice, tamarind, Bengali lime, finger lime, and coriander, all the tastes of Bengal served on a spoon. Then, there was spiced crab in a mango chutney shell, with tomato chutney, deep fried curry leaf and coconut shaving. There was a superb apple macaron, with date and onion puree, spiced beef tartar and duck liver parfait. Finally, there was the house smoked and cured duck, with a passion fruit gel, served on pheasant feather quills. All these snacks not only prepare your palate for the main meal to come, but they showcase some of the amazing culinary innovation that Opheem and Aktar Islam are famous for.
We were then shown through to our table in the restaurant. The first course was TABAK MAAZ which was superbly barbecued mutton rib with a tandoori marinade, dusted with fenugreek and mint, served with lightly pickled daikon on top. It was accompanied by a shorba (soup) of lamb broth and green cardamon, served in a bowl. This was a very good start.
Next was a RASSAM of Isle of White heritage tomatoes, with tomato jelly, South Indian style tomato chutney, a sorbet made with tomato broth, coriander, basil and topped with a tomato tuile. This was another very good dish with a great mix of spices and superbly fresh tomatoes.
The TISRIA was a dish of hand dived Orkney scallop, with pickled kohlrabi, diced green apples, roasted shallots, spiced cauliflower puree, and a broth made from smoked onion and tamarind. The overall taste of this dish was excellent, but I found that the spices slightly overshadowed the scallops.
The ALOO TUK is a signature dish of Opheem that I have enjoyed on previous visits. Achaari pink fir potato are served with tamarind and mango chutney, a layer of potato foam, spiced potato croutons, dehydrated potato puffs, and chives. Aktar designed this dish to accompany Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label champagne, and it is an impressive combination of textures and tastes that matches and enhances the fruity aromas and subtle toasty notes that this champagne exhibits.
Next, the palate cleanser was a sphere of cucumber sorbet, dipped in coco butter, served with a lime gel on the bottom, topped with finger lime, and served on a spoon.
The ALLEPY was Cornish cod poached in a beurre noisette, served with a puree of smoked aubergine, and Wye Valley asparagus that was rolled in a spice mix and puffed rice, served in a sour Keralan coconut sauce with unripe mango. The fish cookery was spot on, and the sauce was excellent.
Another of the Opheem regular appearances is the PAU, which is a cumin spiced milk loaf served with a spiced pate of crispy lamb, shallot and coriander.
The main course of ROGAN JOSH was an unusually tender, slow-cooked Cumbrian lamb loin, served with kohlrabi that was confit in the rendered lamb fat, wild garlic, and a rogan sauce. This was accompanied by rice and slow braised lamb shoulder. This was top class cooking!
The pre-dessert was a very good spiced duck egg custard with fresh mango, sliced passion fruit, grapefruit, and orange.
The first dessert was a SHEERA of different textures of pineapple, including a pineapple kesari baat and poached pineapple, with coconut ice cream on top and a fresh pineapple raita.
Then we were treated to the RASMALAI which is an impressive milk curd, crème anglaise, pistachio, and almond, all encased within a white chocolate shell, served on a pistachio crumb. Your best to try and eat this in one if you can!
The food at Opheem is superb, as is the level of service. If you haven’t been, then you are missing out!
The Spring 10-course tasting menu:
It can be difficult to match wines with Indian food, so we usually select the wine pairing offered by Opheem. All these wines were great matches. There was a distinct difference in the taste of the wines before and after you eat some food. We chose the seven-course wine pairing.
The RASSAM of heritage tomatoes, coriander, and basil was accompanied by a Cellar Credo Aloers Xarel-lo 2018. This biodynamic, organic, white wine from Penedes, Spain scores 3.7 / 5 on Vivino. It is very dry and tastes slightly macerated, and has relatively low alcohol 10.5% ABV.
The TISRIA of Orkney scallop, roasted shallots, and tamarind broth was accompanied by a Domaine de la Zouina, Epicuria Chardonnay, 2019. This white wine from Guerrouane, Morocco, scores 4.2 / 5 on Vivino. This is a very nice 100% Chardonnay wine has characteristics of oak, butter and some vanilla and citrus.
The ALOO TUK of Achaari pink fir potato, and tamarind was accompanied by Yellow Label Veuve Clicquot champagne. Aktar designed this dish to match this great champagne with its toast, citrus and brioche notes. The champagne scores 4.3 / 5 on Vivino.
The ALLEPY of cod, smoked aubergine, raw mango & coconut was accompanied by Cos, Frappato (di Vittoria), 2020. This Sicilian red wine scores 3.9 / 5 on Vivino. It’s smooth, spicy with red fruit characteristics, and is served slightly chilled.
The ROGAN JOSH of lamb loin, kohlrabi, wild garlic, and rogan sauce was accompanied by a Zorah, Karasi, 2019. This red wine from Vayots Dzor, Armenia, scores 4.0 / 5 on Vivino. It reminded me of a Primitivo, with red fruit, tobacco, and slight smoke on the palate. It’s a great wine with spicy food.
The SHEERA dessert of pineapple kesari, and coconut was accompanied by Ca’ d’Gal, Lumine Moscato d’Asti, 2021. This sparkling, slightly sweet white from Piemonte, Italy, scores 3.8 / 5 on Vivino. It’s only got 5% alcohol, but it’s very refreshing, with aromas of blossom and peaches, and a great ending to a large meal. Moscato d’Asti goes through only one fermentation, so it is slightly sweeter than Champagne with less alcohol.
The RASMALAI dessert of milk curd, pistachio, almond in a white chocolate shell was accompanied by Saint Clair Family Estate, Godfrey’s Creek Reserve Noble Riesling, 2019. This white wine from Marlborough, New Zealand, scores 4.2 / 5 on Vivino. This very good, rich dessert wine has a bouquet of dried apricots, peaches, and honey.