I LOVE unusual combinations of food, so I was very interested in Bar Asia when I heard they serve dim sum as well as north Indian food.
So I and my buddies, Nicole and John, visited this long,elegant Earl's Court restaurant a few weeks ago and were impressed with the feel of the decor - it was interesting without being overly intense, providing the perfect background for intimate dinner chat.
The music, too, was free-form enough to be unobtrusive, but the right volume to make silences between diners comfortable.
We were given a glass of champagne as soon as we arrived, which we sipped as we perused the menus, nibbling poppadoms and chutney at the same time.
Dim sum could be brought with the appetisers or the main courses, depending how we wanted it to be served as part of our meal.
My friend John chose a dish as a starter,and enjoyed it immensely.
My appetiser,palak chat - baby spinach, sweetened yoghurt, coriander and tamarind - was probably the finest Indian dish I have ever tried.
The spinach had been dried before being lightly fried in a process called Vishak, the owner,said takes more than a day.
The dryness of the spinach was countered by the creamy moistness of the yoghurt and
the sharp sweetness of the spicy tamarind sauce.
It also prevented the palate from being 'dried out' from the tannins you normally experience in spinach which has been steamed. I would return to this restaurant for this dish alone. Nicole loved the scallops, which had been seasoned in spiced, sun-dried tomatoes and basil sauce and had, she said, the perfect texture. My main course, a paneer malabar - chunks of Indian cottage cheese in a rich and creamy tomato sauce - got my taste buds tingling. Side dishes of lentil dahl, okra, yoghurt raita, rice and broccoli with asparagus provided even more of a variety of tasty flavours, from the necessarily simple green vegetables which had been cooked in a clay oven, to the enticingly complex dahl.
Delicious cocktails kept us watered throughout and Nicole was enthralled by her fish dish, being most impressed that it came on a fish-shaped plate. John quietly and happily consumed his biriani, only resuming conversation after he had finished.
Our silence spoke volumes about the quality of the food, which, I cannot wait to try again.
BAR ASIA Tasting menu £45 per person 166 Old Brompton Road, Earl's Court Call 020 7373 2626