Greek Street's much-anticipated Indian street food kitchen is now open
THEY’RE asking me to admire the muddy, earthy feel of their newly re-plastered walls and colourfully stencilled rustic hut look. Not the usual behaviour of folk launching a new restaurant on the swanky corner of Park Row and Greek Street.
But then Srini K Sundaram and Suresh Raje Urs aren’t your ordinary brand-fixated entrepreneurs. For one they are deeply in love with the regional food they serve at the Indian Tiffin Room, now open in Leeds after much acclaim in Manchester and its satellite, Cheadle.
The duo respond immediately to my genuine enthusiasm for those South Indian rice flour based staples, dosas and idlies, respectively giant filled Indian crepes and steamed breakfast dumplings.
With exec chef Selvan, an elfin, vastly experienced operator who has masterminded the food offering since their early Cheadle days in cramped former bank premises, we head for the kitchens.
We're there to inspect the state-of-the-art griddle range imported from America and the industrial idly steamer that can turn out 80 of the fluffy, savoury ‘pillows’ at a time. It makes my own home kitchen attempts at them seem a mite puny.
ITR serves these treats, accompanied by sambar lentil stew and coconut chutney, in genuine tiffin boxes, those tiered metal containers used to ferry home-made lunches to many thousands of Mumbai workers each day. Deliveroo, eat your heart out.
Floral abundance, cute arches, quirky, authentic Indian artwork and glorious tiled floors all add to the sense of fun
Srini is from Mumbai and that city’s huge melting pot of cuisines is reflected in Indian Tiffin Room’s menu, encompassing everything from the legendary street food of Chowpatty Beach to the Indo-Chinese fusion that originated in Kolkata, becoming most Indians’ choice for a ‘meal out’.
The pair studied together, both worked for the Radisson Hotel at Manchester Airport, before Srini relocated to London and Suresh to York ten years ago. A random meeting in 2012 led to the original Tiffin Room plan.
Srnini told Confidential: “We were brainstorming, but we couldn’t let go of the idea of Indian street food… there was a gap in the market over here. I am from Bombay whereas Suresh is from Mysore and he’s lived in Bangalore which is very multi-cultural. That’s how we’ve managed to gather so much inspiration from the different cuisines within India and that is reflected in our menus.”
The bad news as I drop in for our first look at this impressive new arrival? I can’t sample all these delights I know from their Manchester menus. It’s three days before launch and the kitchen is still being tested. Still the refit of a former Wagamama is a real feast for the eyes. The big change is the raising of the floor to take people-watching advantage of the huge windows of this Grade II listed former bank. At 110 covers, three times the capacity, it’s a step up from their first bank.
Floral abundance, cute arches, quirky, authentic Indian artwork and glorious tiled floors all add to the sense of fun. Fuel it with some exotically conjured cocktails from dreadlocked bar tender Mike Munezero. Check out his creations here.
Head chef Sami provides appropriate bar snacks, but this is very much a restaurant bar to wait for your table at. Trust me – it’s amazingly well worth it.
Indian Tiffin Room, 31-32 Park Row (entrance on Greek Street), Leeds, LS1 5JD. 0113 397 2000.