Hidden away behind the tourist-trap of Leicester Square sits Salt n’ Pepper, a simple restaurant that serves both Pakistani and Indian cuisine. “Salt n’ Pepper”, is, without a doubt, a name of much peculiarity for a restaurant of Pakistani/Indian origin, considering the fact that any Pakistani or Indian mother would beat you senseless if “salt and pepper” was all you used to season a curry with. Rest assured, despite the bland name, Salt n’ Pepper is as authentically Pakistani/Indian as your friendly technical support advisor called “Bob”. All the meat here is halal.
Steak and I visited Salt n’ Pepper a few months ago and chanced upon Salt n’ Pepper’s “123 lunch platters”, which allow you the option of one, two or three course lunch deals. Talk about complex nomenclature. Naturally, we opted for a full three courses. Our order included two helpings of chicken tikka for starters, lamb raghan josh, chicken tikka masala, their accompanying naan and rice for mains, and mango kulfi and mango kheer for dessert. We also helped ourselves to some mango lassi and a portion of “baby lamb chops”, which always sounds far more sinister than “lamb chops”. I can hear the vegetarians weeping already.
Our chicken tikka starter was humble in size, of moderate quality, and consisted of two tikka pieces which were soft, thick and tender, with a moist centre which was filled with strong flavours. The mint sauce that accompanied the tikka was thick in consistency and sharp in taste, complementing it well. Meanwhile, our guilty additional order – the lamb chops, were one of the highlights of the meal. The chops, of a fairly high quality, carried succulent lamb which tore with ease, bearing strong, mildly spicy flavours throughout the entire thickness of the meat.
Mains arrived swiftly after we devoured the lamb chops. Possibly because my animalistic vigour scared the waiters. My raghan josh consisted of soft and well-cooked lamb pieces immersed in a thick curry gravy, both of which carried with them the flavoursome product of a strong blend of mild spices. Steak’s chicken tikka masala meanwhile, was soft, tender, and carried an equally strong blend of spice and tomato. The naans that accompanied our dishes were thick and warm, whilst the pilau rice was soft and moist, with crunchy caramelised onions littered throughout. The thick consistency and sharpness of the accompanying raita served to complement both the naan and rice well.
Of course, no Pakistani/Indian meal is complete without a mango lassi, which possessed a strong, well-balanced flavour with a very thick, homemade feel. And by homemade feel, I mean that “Yep, I paid £2-£3 for a lassi that I could have made at home” feel. My Gujarati friends would have beaten me into the afterlife if they had been with me.
As for dessert, Steak’s kulfi was thick and creamy in consistency, as was my mango kheer. However, the kheer possessed a sharp and sour aftertaste, which was a slightly odd, sour note upon which to end an otherwise pleasant meal.
Value For Money: 2.5/5
The lunch platters amount to £5.95, £7.95 or £9.95 for one, two or three courses respectively, which is exceedingly good value, perhaps worthy of a score anywhere up to 4/5. However, if you’re not visiting at lunch time, expect to pay far higher prices. Starters range from £5-£8, mains from £12-£24, and desserts are around £5. Even when considering the location, I still regard this to be a little pricey, especially for fairly small dishes which are pleasant, but not particularly mind-blowing.
The service you receive is friendly and fairly warm, but certainly nothing particularly special. You can expect to be served fairly swiftly and efficiently. Or at least we were. Perhaps they just wanted me to leave.
Salt n’ Pepper aims for a semi-modern white and green livery, but the decor generally looks rather tired and in need of some much needed sprucing up. The restaurant itself is a couple of steps away from the tourist trap of Leicester Square. After hours of thorough research and in-depth map analysis, I can confirm that the nearest station is Leicester Square station. Weren’t expecting that were you? For more great directional skills, stick around, we’ll be Steak and TomTom in no time.
The atmosphere is quite a lot more drab than the decor, though to be fair, it was rather quiet and empty when we visited. As per usual when people smell us coming.
Salt n’ Pepper plugs a void in the immediate vicinity of Leicester square which otherwise has very few halal options, and certainly very few bearers of South Asian cuisine. Is it spectacular? Not in the slightest. But, equipped with a pleasant array of both classic and novel Indian and Pakistani dishes, there’s a simple satisfaction to Salt n’ Pepper’s blend of culinary offerings.