South Building, Anchor Square, Canon’s Rd
Bristol, BS1 5UH
T:- 0117 316 9393
I don’t know if I’m alone in thinking this way, but I’m always slightly wary of Indian restaurants that opt to take the modern route when it comes to Indian cuisine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for experimental cooking and a modern twist, but I always feel that from a foodie point of view, I’m going to come away somewhat disappointed. So Tikka Flame, with its slick glass and chrome exterior, sitting next to Bristol’s biggest club, Oceana, had set alarms bells ringing before I’d even noticed the stag do sitting in the corner!
However, my recent visit was an education in why not to judge a book by its cover, as Tikka Flame really is doing absolutely everything right. The atmosphere is laid back, yet inviting, and the split levels and cosy corners make it seem intimate without being pokey. The staff are fantastic, and on our visit, were so incredibly efficient and eager to help-even going to the effort to check online to see if they did indeed offer discount to my police force dining companion (they did-30%!)
So now the important stuff…the food. We started, as you do, with a stack of poppadoms with an array of yogurts, chutneys and pickles, all beautifully presented, fresh and very clearly homemade. Once we’d munched our way through these, the waiter cleared our table almost immediately, and the wait for our main courses was minimal, considering it was a relatively busy Saturday night. I opted for the Chatpata Chicken, which is described on the menu as “a spicy dish with green chillis, tomatoes, browned onions and a squeeze of lemon juice”, whilst my fellow diners opted for Chicken Tikka Massala, and Rajasthani Lamb (lamb cooked with cashew nuts, garlic, ginger and chilli), and all three dishes were all you could ever want from a good curry!
My Chatpata Chicken was, as promised, spicy, but without being unbearable, with some good sized chunks of chicken, and was a generous enough portion to leave me well and truly satisfied. The Tikka Massala was a million miles from the luminous red sauces you so often find, and was subtly spiced, yet very well seasoned, again, with a generous helping of chicken, and the Rajasthani Lamb was simply gorgeous; thick, spicy sauce with chunks of melt-in-your-mouth lamb, complemented beautifully by the creamy nuttiness of the cashews. But the one thing that shone out about all the dishes we ate was the freshness of flavour. So often with Indian food you can find the spices are dulled down by copious amounts of cream, coconut milk and such like, but where the menu specified “a squeeze of lemon juice” or “a hint of green chilli”, you could absolutely taste it. Another nice touch was the accompaniments we ordered-mushroom rice, keema naan and garlic naan. The portions of rice were unusually large and the naan breads were, as opposed to being gigantic, flabby, and ever so slightly cold, were flavoursome and crisp, cut into quarters and as elegantly presented as a naan bread can be!
So I have to admit that Tikka Flame has proved my inner curry snob well and truly wrong. You can fuse modern and traditional together when it comes to Indian food, and in Tikka Flame’s case, it can be done extremely well. My only qualm would be that the prices, coming in at just over £10 a dish, are just that tiny bit high, considering you can pop 5 minutes up the hill into Clifton and get some outstanding curries for at least £3 less, but it’s to be expected somewhat from its city centre position. But with all this in mind, Tikka Flame really is a bit of a breath of fresh air in Bristol’s diverse curry world-it really is worth a try!