When we first heard about Inito, it was at a tasting evening for the menu. It was all about lunchtime, offering roti style wraps. Almost like a Bombay Burrito bar really… But with a name that sounded suspiciously like Benito’s Hat, the whole thing sounded a rip off. But still, this could work. We were perplexed, rubbishing it in our head, whilst complimenting what a great idea this could be.
A few months down the line, the first ever Inito has opened it’s doors for a soft launch. So we trooped down to see how the team of ex-Nando crew had got on with Head Chef, Saurav Nath – ex-Benares and Atul Kocher protégée.
Just in front of the kitchen is a space dedicated towards the lunch offering, which will surely become popular in the area. It offers Prawn, Paneer, Portabello Mushroom, Chicken, Lamb or a mixed Mushroom and Paneer roti – surely the choice for any vegetarian? Alternatively, you can make your own roti.
With it being a soft launch we wanted to help test the staff. We ordered pretty much everything on the menu and just let it all come to our very small table. It ended up being so much food that we had to get two tables. The team reassured us that they have ordered some bigger tables and it wasn’t just us being fatties. We won’t run through everything we ordered, but photos are on Instagram and the Gallery.
The first dish to the table was the Pani Puri. A spherical, hollow puri that is fried crisp. Served with chickpeas inside, you then sprinkle a mixture of water, tamarind chutney, chilli and other things over it to flavour to your own desire. Then eat.
Usually at Indian restaurants, that turn tables around quickly, these items are left out and quickly put together in the Kitchen. It means that the puri often tastes cardboard-y and the chickpeas are just a bit harder than you’d hope. These were some of the best pani puri we’d had the joy of eating in a long time. Everything tasted so fresh, like it had just been plucked from a tree.
Is this because suppliers are sucking up to the highly regarded, head Chef, Saurav Nath? Was it because it was the second day that this restaurant had had public in it? To be honest, we didn’t care. We just enjoyed.
Now, everyone loves cheese right? Unless you are lacto-intolerent. In which, we’re very sorry for you. But paneer is up there as one of the best Indian foods around. It’s is essentially curdled cottage cheese.
Sadly though, this was the biggest disappointment of our visit. That and the awfully labelled toilets. Seriously , where were they? The paneer was ridiculously plain. The accompanying chutney gave away no energy or vibrancy that you’d hope it would do either. We would suggest giving this one a miss if you visit.
If you asked what the highlight of our meal was, we’d have to go for, bizarrely, the Biryani. Usually, this is the most average dish in the world. It’s the margherita pizza of Indian food. But when this arrived, we were baffled. The presentation on it was beautiful. Almost like a pie.
It’s the sort of dish that would make anyone want to order it if they had seen it at the table next to them. The Chef had wanted to use puff pastry – which we think would have made this dish into more of a spectacle but sadly he was overruled. We think it still looks like a pie. So, they might as well gone the whole hog with it.
Annoyingly, these foods are all available in the dinner section of the menu, which we don’t think is the most ideal. Can you imagine Pret, Eat or Chipotle doing dinner alternatives? All are open, yes. But not with such expansive menus. Especially when they are just around the corner from big competition on Brick Lane, Spitalfields and Commercial Road. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare over the next few months.
But that’s what soft launches are for. To find out that they don’t need to be open in the evenings and then close for the night at 6?…. Or to find out that Pints & Plates are wrong and they’re doing a storming job?
If it was open in the evenings, we’d definitely be back for some more so we do kind of hope we’re a bit wrong! There are a few other issues, like timings on the food, the music and so on but these will be ironed out soon enough. For us though, the biggest issues? The food just needs more of a kick. But that is just down to personal taste.
Pints & Plates was invited to taste the menu by Inito.