14 Broad Street, Ottery St Mary – 07879 995273 / 01404 813280
One of the aims of this blog is to showcase the best eating experiences that Exeter and the surrounding area has to offer. But there is a whole lot of stuff happening outside of the Exeter area that I encourage you to visit. One place that is hot on my radar at the moment is Ottery St Mary, and a few months ago you might remember we took a trip to visit The Rusty Pig. This time we were guests of The Samosa Lady, whose name is Tina.
Ottery St Mary loves Tina. And Tina loves Ottery too. When she took up residence at 14 Broad Street, Tina put a call out on Facebook asking for help setting up shop payment was in curry and samosas. Tina was amazed to find a queue of eager helpers waiting to offer themsleves with brushes and paint in hand. This was the beginning of a long and happy place in the hearts of the residents of this large East Devon town.
Through the foodie circles I move in, praise for Tina’s cuisine (especially her Samosas) has echoed. She is renowned for producing some amazing food. After she appeared at one of Hanlon’s Brewery Pop-up Evenings the positivity on social media was building me up for something epic. The expectation was delivered, the evening was as memorable as I had hoped it would be.
We were invited along to one of Tina’s dining nights where a special four-course menu is prepared with a theme; tonight’s was Eat East, a whole Asian menu fused together tastefully with Thai, Indian, and Chinese being a few themes of the evening.
The first thing that hits you when you walk through the door of 14 Broad Street is the smell. Its like some sort of olfactory welcome party, with the strong smell of spices filling every inch of cubic airspace. It was a busy evening and, as a first for one of Tina’s events, there were named spaces as a group of friends wanted to be together.
There was no written menu, each dish was announced by our host at the beginning of each course with a wonderful fusion of different eastern styles of cooking.
The table was laid out with aperitifs, including Poppadoms; strips of scratch-made Samosa dough and to dip some home-made Mango Chutney; Aubergine Pickle and Lime Pickle.
As guests started to filter in one by one, we met our table mates. On my left was John & Meena, both retired residents of Ottery St Mary. On my right was Gary and Helen from Copperhill Farm Meats, who were absolutely lovely. We shared many laughs at our end of the table.
Our first course was Peking Duck Samosas served with a tamarind chutney and Chicken Satay on Yorkshire Pudding with a cucumber salad. I liked the fact that Tina introduced the evening with her specialty; up to this point I had never had a Samosa Lady samosa, but with my SLS virginity taken, it was clear what the fuss was about. Beautifully cooked duck wrapped in a crispy light home-made dough.
The wonderful Chicken Satay on Yorkshire pudding was an homage to Tina’s Northern heritage. After moving from Africa to the Gujarti region of India, Tina’s parents (Mama Samosa was present tonight!) ended up in Yorkshire. This was a fitting tribute with the exotic satay contrasting with a such a traditional British staple; as a fusion dish it worked really well with the similar buttery flavours and that nutty, slightly spicy edge to the chicken.
Before our main we were treated to a complimentary Spiced Rum and Ginger shot. Down in one? Or sip? I deliberated, but opted for sipping it as I am a tad strange with alcohol.
Our main dish was a Thai Seafood Curry with Ginger & Garlic infused Pilau rice with curried spinach. The curry included a medley of different seafoods and a beautifully scented rice. The dish felt so home-cooked, as if it had been cooked in Tina’s very own kitchen at home.
Throughout the meal Tina had assistance from a small army of helpers who assisted with prepping the food, serving the food and being accommodating to the various needs of the convivial gathering downstairs and the raucous birthday party upstairs who were also taking part in the meal.
Our dessert was a spin on the traditional. A Sticky Toffee Pudding infused with cardamom, drizzled with a Chilli Toffee Sauce and topped with saffron clotted cream with crushed Pistachios as an option.
The pudding was light as I would imagine a pudding like this to be, the addition of the pistachios with the exotic accents of this traditional British dish really worked, saffron clotted cream is a first for me but it won’t be the last. The chilli toffee sauce intermingled with the clotted cream, playing with texture and temperature.
Communal dining isn’t for everyone. In fact for most Brits whose idea of ‘eating out’ involves a table away from the rest of the humanity in a dark corner of a soulless restaurant, the concept of having to sit with strangers within close proximity would send them screaming for the hills. But once diners get past that initial apprehension, it is an easy way to make friends.
This type of dining experience was fun, even for an INFJ like myself It was immensely entertaining, and when the wine/beer/shots flow, your friend count rises gradually.
Tina knows how to do a dining night. More than one person recounted ‘the time when’ something fun happened at a previous event (I think dancing on tables was involved?…), Tina has a definite band of avid supporters and it is clear to see why. From the moment the community banded around to support her setting-up shop, that support hasn’t wavered and there is a definite place for her with her delicious smells in the heart (physical and emotional) of Ottery St Mary.
The evening cost was £35 per head. It was BYO with table water available.