Thali Restaurant Review
Check out our review for Liam Tomlin’s Thali, the most exciting Indian restaurant to hit Cape Town.
Liam Tomlin is something of a Midas in the Cape Town food world. Everything he touches seems to turn to gold. Not one to rest on his laurels, following on from the success of Chef’s Warehouse on Bree Street, he opened Thali last year, while also taking over the kitchen at Beau Constantia for a second Chef’s Warehouse location. You would expect one of the establishments to drop the ball, but none do.
Thali is something very special, foremost because it’s not what you expect it to be.
When people began to speak of an Indian restaurant opening in Park Road, off Kloof Street, the assumption was that it was going to be heaping bowls of your butter chickens, your kormas and your lamb Rogan Josh’s’. And while those are great, what Thali offers is slightly more refreshed and exciting. Based on the traditional Indian style of eating, the food at Thali comes served on large round platters, with each dish placed in small bowls accompanied with poppadoms and parathas, for dipping and scooping a-plenty.
As with Tomlin’s other two restaurants, the menu can change fairly regularly depending on what’s available and the best quality. There are some steadfast options that won’t disappear, namely the chaat, made with potatoes and spicy fried chickpeas, which serves as the ideal opening snack. On the night we dined, there was a black lentil dahl to follow, as well as a hearty cauliflower dish that had been cooked tandoori-style. The somewhat iconic chicken and lamb kebabs that come served in a smoking tandoor, are worth the hype, especially when plunged into the pomegranate raita and tomato chilli jam.
If you need advice for dining at Thali, go hungry. With stretchy pants on. It’s an exceptionally generous meal and try as you might, you won’t be able to resist any of the delicious things placed in front of you.
One such thing was their take on a fish taco, a zingy marinated line fish topped with spicy tomatoes and pickled red onions encased in a poppadom shell. It’s as good as it sounds, so good that you’ll be annoyed that you have to share. To round things off, there are the curries you thought you wouldn’t miss but are very happy to see. When we dined, the lamb curry was the stuff of dreams, soft pieces of lamb submerged into a rich tomato-based sauce. By the time these come around you will think you can eat nothing else, but trust us, you will.
If you’re a believer that curries couldn’t possibly be refined, then Thali needs to be your next meal out. From the moment you walk in, your pre-conceived ideas of what an Indian restaurant ‘should’ be are challenged. Even their wine list is tackling the notion that no wine goes with curries. It’s expertly curated in a way that pairs each tipple with a mild, medium or spicy curry. Side note: the Alphabetical White is the ultimate in mouth-cooling capabilities when things get a little warm. Who needs milk when you have that?
So if you’re after something warm, authentic and refreshing, pop into Thali. Not only will you eat some of the best Indian food in town, but you’ll be treated to a restaurant unlike any other you’ve ever visited before.
Incredible Indian tapas that is perfect for sharing with friends.