Being a vegetarian for the past twenty-one years now makes dining out either very simple, or completely complicated. I usually have a pick of two or three main food options, salad which is very healthy, an omelette but I don’t eat egg, or a fish dish for which I detest seafood. Therefore I either choose the salad which is easy, or ask for a dish minus several ingredients. If there are a wider variety for almost vegan I have some kind of mushroom dish, pasta or filo pastry with goats cheese. But what to have at an Indian? I love spice, flavour, texture and taste but some curries can be too dry, too hot, too mushy or sickly sweet, so I stick to ordering a vegetable side curry as a main and always enjoy it. However the contemporary cuisine at Mela has opened my eyes to experimenting.
Situated on the London Road in Aston Clinton with off-road parking, modern seamlessly meets traditional in this inviting and stylishly furnished award winning restaurant. Sleek dark wood floors teamed with pristine table linen, fragrant fresh flowers and gold trimmings create the perfect ambience for a special candlelit dinner or night out with friends. Proudly displaying five-stars for food hygiene and with an innovative menu, fresh ingredients and attentive staff, it’s clear to see why customers travel from far and wide to dine here.
Starting with papadums and a selection of sauces we pondered over the menu whilst our drinks were being served. Having my trusty “vegetable curry as a main and a side of mushroom rice please” as a backup plan, I asked the waiter if there was anything he’d recommend for a ‘safe’ vegetarian, no-fish, no-egg diner. Without even looking at the menu, he first asked me what I’d like in a curry dish and I answered flavour and spice without the sweet, dry or butteriness of sauces. He told me the chef could make a special sizzling vegetable dish with a moist spicy sauce and it was clear that he wasn’t simply trying to push a daily special that needed using up, as he actually took the time to recommend and suggest what I would really like and suit a dish to my taste. I ordered my sizzling curry with a side of mushroom rice and was wowed when it came out.
It wasn’t one of those anonymous fluorescent one-batch-makes-all sauces, but glossy, vibrant and flavoursomely tomato based, which coated the succulent and fresh vegetables beautifully. I hate mushy bland food, and this dish was anything but, with large pieces of juicy aubergine, potatoes and pepper complimenting the light and fluffy mushroom rice in a taste bud explosion. It is amazing how the humble curry can be brought up to date with a contemporary and innovative twist; the use of flavour and spice was exceptional and each mouthful was a delight. After finishing the entire plate I wasn’t left feeling sickly or over full, but perfectly satisfied and in awe. We finished our meal with a hot towel, slices of fresh orange and a tray of mints and chocolates.
As a vegetarian/almost vegan it isn’t always easy to eat out in restaurants as menus tend to play it safe on dishes that they offer, which in turn had led me to accept only what’s available and miss things out from my order to compensate for my needs. Mela went above and beyond my expectations with their service, the food was incredible and the staff were polite, attentive and helpful.
And if you’ve been to Mela please feel free to comment and leave feedback below. What dishes have you tried and what would you recommend? For more information or to view the full menu you can visit Mela online here!
Mela Contemporary Indian Cuisine
103 London Rd, Aylesbury, Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire HP22