Because it’s not a huge city, there really is a buzz around Inverness when a new restaurant opens.
We seem to trust one another when it comes to recommendations, so it’s a big deal being among the first customers to go.
Mumbai Thistle opened on Academy Street at the end of September, claiming to be bringing the flavours of Mumbai to the Highlands with a menu of authentic Indian street food dishes.
We had already heard lots of people talking about it, which is a great sign, so my boyfriend Aidan and I headed along last Saturday night to see what all the fuss was about.
Mumbai Thistle is in the former Coyotes location, so if you went there you’ll know it isn’t the biggest. We booked ahead and I am glad we did, as the other booths and tables were full when we arrived. On top of that, there were people coming in to collect takeaways constantly, so it’s safe to say it was busy.
The staff acknowledged this immediately, which I really appreciated. Our first server told us he would keep us updated throughout the night on the progress of our food, which he stayed true to. Multiple members of the team checked in on us throughout the night, each of whom was lovely and helpful.
The restaurant boasts a live dosa cooking station, and while there is one, I can’t say it’s much of a feature. It’s quite small and tucked in a corner, so unless you’re sat right at the bar, it could go unnoticed. Otherwise, the decor is mostly blue and orange – bright but still tasteful and fun.
It took us longer than usual to order our food, simply because we were so overwhelmed by the menu. I do think it may have helped to have someone talk us through the various sections when we arrived.
There is a huge range of traditional Indian dishes as well as fusion ones, which was really exciting to see. Something we didn’t love so much, or more accurately didn’t think was necessary, was the burger options on the back of the menu. They felt like an attempt to cater to too many people, or maybe to maintain the Coyotes’ fanbase? Either way, we steered clear.
Mumbai Thistle hadn’t received its alcohol license when we went – they called us up earlier in the day to tell us it was BYOB which was a nice touch. We decided against this and instead ordered a ginger beer (£2.95) and an Indian lime soda (£2.75) which I loved, it was like a virgin mojito.
We decided to order a few dishes to share and I am incredibly glad we did as it meant we got to try lots of different things. The food did take a little while to come out but we were treated to another round of drinks for free as an apology, which was unnecessary but lovely.
After much deliberation, the first dish we chose was a Mysore dosa, described on the menu as a traditional masala dosa smeared with red chilli and garlic paste served with medu vada (Indian fritters), coconut chutney and sambar (£10.95). The easiest thing I can liken this to is a thin crepe with a soft, spiced filling.
It was unlike anything either of us had eaten before, the spices marrying so well together. We loved dipping it into all the sauces that came with it too. We should probably have eaten it faster as it got a little cold, but that is purely our own fault.
Dish number two was a paneer makhani (£9.95). Aidan is a huge paneer fan, me not so much, but he thoroughly enjoyed this. I gave it a go for the flavours which were delicious, a creamy tomato and cashew-based sauce.
Last up, and our joint favourite, was the non-vegetarian thali (£24.95). We essentially ordered this because it looked like it had a bit of everything, and we were right. It had a fish curry, fish fry, chicken chettanadu, beef chilli masala, rice, salad, chapathi, payasaam and raitha.
Luckily, a member of the team arrived to explain what was what right before Aidan dunked his chicken in the sweet payasaam dish. If you have this, it’s worth asking about it because the order of the dishes added to the experience.
I am not even going to pretend I knew what I was eating most of the time, but every tiny bowl was a huge explosion of flavour, and yet they somehow all worked together. If you are to try one thing from Mumbai Thistle, make it this.
We definitely could have ordered one less dish as the portions were generous, but the team gladly boxed up our leftovers and that was lunch the next day sorted. Though we were full, we ordered two desserts to go, a mango and a pistachio kulfi (£4.95 each). Again we went in blind, but were happy to find they were flavourful ice creams.
When our bill arrived, the desserts had been removed, again as a kind gesture to apologise for the slow night – which wasn’t even really that slow.
We were very impressed by what we had at Mumbai Thistle, especially considering they really hadn’t been open for long when we went. The team were so kind and we really felt like they were trying to make sure everyone there had a great time.
I do think they could give themselves more credit for how well they do Indian food and ditch the burgers, but hey, I guess the variety might cater for some groups.
We’ll be back for more and I am definitely keen to see if their takeaway experience lives up to that of the restaurant.
Address: 21 Academy Street, Inverness, IV1 1JN
T: 01463 212080
Price: £51.55 for two soft drinks and three main dishes – but would have been £61.45 with desserts added.
- Food: 4/5
- Service: 4/5
- Surroundings: 4/5