Restaurant Review: Prithvi, Cheltenham in Gloucestershire
If I get the chance I like to find out local people’s opinions on eateries before I go and everyone I mentioned Prithvi to in Cheltenham only had good things to say – high praise indeed!
Located in the town centre, Prithvi, an Indian cuisine restaurant, is fairly unassuming from the outside. You can fit a maximum of 25 diners inside and it’s not your typical ‘local Indian.’ When I say this I mean don’t go along expecting a chicken tikka masala with every accompaniment and enough food to serve the whole table in one portion. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I might add, but Prithvi is more of a tasting menu and Champagne sort of place. It’s not stuffy at all, it just knows how to give you an award winning dining experience.
My dining partner Nick, and I visited for lunch one Sunday and were impressed with the variety of flavours and how they complemented the meat on each dish we had. Upon arrival – after receiving a very warm welcome – we took a seat on some low chairs by the window to peruse the menus over a glass of Champagne. We decided on the ‘Prithvi Tour’ – the five course tasting menu – with wine pairings. (£45.50pp plus £39pp for the wine flight).
We were shown to our table, which was surrounded by comfy dark brown leather armchairs and I immediately noticed some colourful and intricate paintings of local streets hanging on the walls. They were accentuated by dark frames and complemented the contemporary grey, white and black décor. The room was low lit and the tiled floor was welcoming on the hot day. Subtle tinkling music led us through our afternoon and the restaurant had an exclusive and relaxed feel to it. Walls were painted either black with silver framed mirrors hanging on them, or an off white grey with a textured feature wall towards the back of the restaurant.
Shortly after taking our seats a delicious appetiser of mint and coriander chicken with mint sauce arrived, followed by some delicate poppodoms with a plum chutney and creamy yogurt dip. Course one of the tasting menu came along soon after and consisted of salmon, sea purslane, red chilli and mango and was tasty and refined, with delicate textures. The tandoori fish was tender and moist and the flavours were uplifted by the sweet mango. I love salmon anyway and this was gorgeous, my only criticism would be that there was only one texture on the plate, but this was lovely dish. Each ingredient was well placed and was complemented or uplifted by the delightful accompanying wine – Werner ‘Annaberg’ Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany 2013.
Course two was chicken, spinach and garlic purée, beetroot and star anise jus and was served with a Californian Chardonnay (Fess Parker Santa Barbara County, 2014). The chicken was perfectly cooked, the dish was colourful and the earthy, sweet beetroot was a great choice to pair the spicier flavours with. Rather than opposing the stronger flavours on the plate, the wine complemented them very well – another great choice. Each dish so far has left me wanting more, and savouring each bite and the balancing of the ingredients is something that the chef here does well.
The third course had a little more kick to it and consisted of king prawns, mussels, white wine vinegar, curry leaves and rice. It smelled wonderful, it was colourful and I couldn’t wait to tuck in! The king prawn was meaty, it all tasted great and the rice was light and fluffy, soaking up the sauce on the plate. A crispy piece of seaweed added a nice texture and the wine offered a welcome acidity (Smoking Loon Viognier, Clarksburg, California 2013).
Course four was lamb with a mint and herb crust, butternut squash, red chilli and a naan. Lamb isn’t my favourite meat but with the flavours here, it made me a fan! The crust added a delicate crunch, as did some green beans, and the medium-rare piece of meat was of great quality. The squash added a fruity flavour, which was superb, and a light, crisp naan mopped up the sauce very well. I love Pinot Noir, and the German version chosen for this dish (Villa Wolf, Pfalz, 2014) was lovely and a good match for the food, but not a great match.
Our final course of deconstructed tiramisu with pistachio tuiles was delightful and pleased the chocoholic within. There were a perfect blend of textures (cream, light and airy sponge, crunchy tuile and tiny crispy balls) and sweet and fruity flavours (chocolate dusted sponge and lemon purée). The wine was thick, yet light, with flavours of honey blossom coming through and it suited the dessert very well – we enjoyed a glass of Lenz Moser Prestige Beerenauslese, Burgenland, Austria 2012. Before we left we were treated to a hot drink with a selection of dark and white chocolate and coconut truffles, which finished us off a treat – we couldn’t fit another morsel in!
The cooking can only be described as refined, with the meat being the star of the show on each dish, aided by perfectly matched accompaniments. Each course was well spiced, just right for my liking, and the presentation was simple, elegant and colourful. Every single bite of each dish was consumed as well as the wines, which were delicious and well chosen for the foods. The service was quick and friendly with every dish being explained thoroughly as it was served and there was a relaxed ambience. I would go again.
In a nutshell
Prithvi opened its doors in early 2012 but it feels like it has been established far longer. The menu is packed with flavour and it was a delight to dine here, the locals were right! I’m honestly wondering when this place is going to get its Michelin Star, it would be well deserved in my opinion.
Address: 37 Bath Rd, Cheltenham GL53 7HG / 01242 226229