Revisiting Thali Cafe, Clifton

My first visit to the Thali Cafe in Clifton wasn’t a brilliant success, far from it. The food was tasty but the service wasn’t the most enjoyable. The air seemed heavy and everything seemed to drag. We left without leaving a tip. However we were eager to go back and try again. The food was nice and affordable so it didn’t feel like much of a sacrifice to go for a second visit.

We booked ahead of time, having being turned away two weeks previously. Instead of 8.30pm we arranged to be there for 7.30pm. We recently discovered that walking up Jacob’s Wells Rd and Constitution Hill gets us to Regent St in about 10 minutes. That was a little too quick so we strolled around Clifton again. However once we were there the service was friendly and prompt. Our table was by the window this time and we avoided the clip clop of sitting under the stairway.

Sunday night has live music and it was an acoustic set of folksy, Spanish, English and general early-evening-in-a-pleasant-setting kind of singing. My companion was quite enraptured and insisted on clapping after every song. I thought it was lovely but didn’t agree with the etiquette.

Our service was excellent and we tried the chutneys and pickles with the poppadums. There was a garlic tasting raita, a lovely mango chutney, a madras tasting chilli pickle and a coconut with mustard seeds. All were either delicate and interesting but definitely tasty.

We ordered the Mumbai City Snacks again and this time there were two bhajis (much more fresh than last time) and the two others had a potato filling with one of them including ginger and chilli. Only the vegetarian thalis are £5 on a Sunday so we ordered a Southern one with Fish and the Northern vegetarian one. The free range chicken thali was brought instead and to make up for it our waiter brought us a fish dish as well. The chicken was cooked on the bone and was extremely tender while the Fish was fried and served in a sauce. The meal was a completely different experience from the previous time.

The only negative thing, if I was to find something, was that the two tables next to us were made up of over six or seven people. At some point they all seemed to be competing with the music to see who could talk louder. By then it was the end of our meal though so we weren’t too fussed.

We quite happily left a tip even though we were reminded that it was optional and on the receipt was a 50% voucher for breakfast on the weekend. I wonder what that would be like.

Thali Cafe, 1 Regent Street, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 4HW, Tel: 0117 974 3793, Open 7 days, Evenings: 6pm – close, Daytime: 11:00am – 6pm

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