Ananda is the latest venture for Asheesh Dewan, the man behind the Jaipur chain and Chakra in Greystones. This time he's partnered with Atul Kochhar -- the first Indian chef to get a Michelin star for his London restaurant, Benares -- and Ananda is the result. The executive chef is Sunil Ghai, who has been with the Jaipur chain since 2001 and has spent the past few months in Benares working with Atul. In between, they created the menu in Ananda. High expectations were well met. Paolo paid a visit with John and Charley Boorman and some friends,
The dining room is in a modern building, but they've gone to a bit of trouble to soften the hard edges with intricately-carved Indian wooden panels. Other than that, the interior is quite austere with plain, neutral walls. We were handed menus and they were up to my expectations, which were high.
While we were making up our minds, we were able to pick away at bowls of prawn crackers that came with a selection of dips: a chilli, a spiced yoghurt, and an amazingly good tamarind one. We decided to go ahead and order, rather than wait for Charley. John chose the aloo tikki to start, which was pan-fried potato cakes filled with spiced peas, and followed that with duck chettiyar, slow cooked with southern Indian spices.
I started with the baingan ki katli, which was a grilled aubergine steak cooked with mustard, and followed that with the mahsahari thali. A thali is a traditional Indian way of serving a variety of dishes, often from different regions. This one gave me a chance to try a lamb, a chicken, a prawn and a vegetable curry.
The wine list is a good one. It's long, with more than 100 wines listed, very fairly priced and well chosen. As an example, here's the list of the white wines by the glass -- all under €8: a Spanish Verdejo, the Yalumba unoaked Chardonnay, the Torres Santa Digna Sauvignon, a Macon-Lugny, a Barossa Riesling, the Collavini Pinot Grigio and Lawson's Dry Hills Sauvignon; all decent wines. The majority of the wines listed were less than €30, which was great to see.
We decided that the Albert Pic Chablis, at €34, would be perfect for us.
We both enjoyed our starters, although I thought John's potato cake starter was rather better than mine which, although tasty enough, was just a little plain. What was clear, though, was that the seasoning and spicing of the dishes was the work of a chef with great skill.
We'd just been given our main courses when Charley arrived with David, his London editor, and two of the Hughes & Hughes team, so we were now six. The look of my thali prompted the order of two more -- and, by tasting from it, a lamb and a chicken curry were ordered as well.
As an introduction to this restaurant's menu, the thali is perfect. Effectively, you get to try four dishes and that's a fair cross-section of the menu.
Of the four I had before me, I liked the lamb curry the best, closely followed by the prawns. Meanwhile, John finished off his duck very happily and further compliments came from the rest of the table. If you enjoy Indian food, Ananda takes Indian cuisine to a new level for Dublin.
The other restaurants in the Jaipur family are located at;
1 South Great George’s St, Dublin 2.
Tel: 01 677 0999
21 Castle Street, Dalkey Co.Dublin.
Tel: 01 285 0552
5 St. James’s Terrace, Malahide Co.Dublin
Tel: 01 845 5455
Chakra by Jaipur, Meridian Point Centre, Greystones, Co.Wicklow
Tel: 01 2017222
35 Main street Ongar Village,Dublin 15
Tel: 01 6402611.
Check out their website at http://www.jaipur.ie/