As noted in my recent reviews, there’s no shortage of Indian restaurants in Brighton and Hove. Indeed I’m starting to feel that I’m becoming quite the local expert on the Indian kitchen. So earlier this year I was pleased to see an old favourite – Malika – relocate from the rather depressing environs of Brighton Marina to a far more convenient location slap-bang on the centre of the seafront in Kings Road.
For those who can stretch their minds back to the none to distant past, the restaurant has taken over from Monarch so it’s a big space to play with – both inside and out – offering informal dining and drinks on the terrace or a slightly more stylish setting in the main dining room.
Owner Piff Patel has spruced up the interiors – particularly the bar area which offers a pleasing range of spirits and some really well-chosen wines – with the stand-out being brilliant-glowing white linen clothed tables as far as the eye can see (well, almost). It’s a stylish touch and not expected at a seafront eatery.
The menu has everything you’d expect from a contemporary Indian restaurant. In terms of curries, there are all the familiar variations there – korma, dhansak, bhuna, madras, jalfrezi and even a vindaloo – however I think its fair to say that the kitchen is particularly proud of their tandoor dishes and rightly so.
Thus there was only one possible choice to start, their Dewane Khas sharing platter of tandoor roasted meats. Delightfully spicy chicken and salmon tikka, duck and seriously the most melt-in-the-mouth lamb chops. I have made a mental note that on my next visit I’ll just be ordering a plate piled high with these culinary marvels.
As there were five of us, we all ordered our own preference for mains and a couple of rices and naan breads. So when the food arrived, we had a table laden with heavy with delicious tasting, looking and – definitely – smelling Indian cuisine.
Now little Miss Greedy Guts has been doing particularly well as partner-in-crime on my Argus review schedule in recent weeks and although she’s technically a human dustbin, she’s very particular when ordering for herself. Hence following a very in-depth conversation with the waiter about fish curry, she decided upon the tilapia curry. Now I’m not a fan of freshwater fish as all too often they taste either a bit ‘muddy’ or else of very little at all. However I am now a convert to tilapia – it was sweet and moist and perfectly matched with the coconut base sauce.
I was particularly taken by the lamb karahi – a chilli-laden, not-to-wet lamb leg curry – and panner saagwala dish of cubed cheese with cream and spinach. Now it’s no surprise that the food here is top-notch as the entire kitchen team are from India. The restaurant has a rotating brigade of chefs who split their time between working in five star hotels in India and Malika in Brighton; I can’t think of any other Indian restaurant that has achieved this kind of model.
Their experience and depth of knowledge really shines in each and every dish. I know from making black daal at home that it can be a lengthy and time-consuming process, so sampling it in all it’s rich deliciousness really showed the care that goes into the food.
Above and beyond the food, the standout thing about Malika is the service. The front of house staff are absolutely fantastic: friendly, informed about the menu, trained in service. One genuinely gets the impression that they love working there, in fact I’m sure they do.
Pricewise, mains start around £8 for vegetarian and £12 for chicken rising to a maximum of £17 for tandoor dishes. Rice and naan breads are £3-4 so effectively you can have a hearty and authentic meal with a glass of house wine for £25. Also of note is their Sunday buffet which is very well-priced at £17.95 for adults and £9.95 for under 12s.
With all their chicken and lamb being organic, seafood sourced locally wherever possible and negligible levels of frozen ingredients, Malika is clearly a restaurant that wants to be the best and it shows. This restaurant has a bright future.
Malika, 46-48 Kings Road, Brighton BN1 1NA
01273 600 088 • www.malikaindianrestaurant.com