Never eat anything bigger than your head
Whenever you see crossed chives you are in trouble
We should all be eating less meat and better meat
Cookery Quote

Mendi - nothing beats home cooking

Part of the onerous burden that must be carried by every food writer is to have people come up at parties, or in the pub, or at the rugby and ask where they should go and eat. The temptation (at least for food writers in Worcestershire), is to reply “In London”, it is so much easier to establish a gastro-advice no-fly-zone in the immediate vicinity of home. For openers it can avoid a certain amount of the unnecessary bad feeling that comes from straight talking. Every rule must have its exception and for us the exception is Mendi. This place has been open for five or six months and bizarrely offers Punjabi Vegetarian Cooking.
Even more bizarrely this place is packed. Prior to seeing the happy throng at Mendi I would have wagered a tidy sum that there were not enough vegetarians, or even lovers of rich and unpretentious Indian food to make such a venture a success. As in so many things I would have been wrong. In 1981 Mendo, the small Indian lady with a ramrod straight back, took over the village shop in Wychbold. By the time she was 65 she had realised her dream and a small, but very polished and elegant restaurant had opened its doors. It’s easy to find as it is wedged between the Macdonald’s, the Harvester and the Holiday Inn just off junction 5 of the M5.
In the 1990’s Mendo’s family would return from university at weekends to help in the shop. Today they are professionals (lawyers mainly) but at weekends they still return home to wait tables, make the breads and take the orders. This is the best kind of family restaurant.
The food is sparky and well-seasoned. From the starters try the Punjabi bhajii (£2.75) light and crisp like tiny birds' nests scented with methi. Very good indeed. The samosas (£2.99) have a light outer and somewhat stodgy filling. The aloo tikka channa chaat (£3.25) is a dish of chick peas and potato cakes. The bread pakora (£2.99) is a new twist on fried bread. From the mains the Punjabi chole (£4.95) is exemplary – the richness of the chick peas cut by a squeeze of lemon juice. The daal makhani (£5.50) is glorious, buttered, sludgy lentils – may need a pinch of salt. The Bombay potatoes (£5.50) is very rich and wholly satisfying. Even the jeera fried rice (£1.99) is a triumph every grain separate and perfumed with cumin. The breads are amazing – a notably thin and elegant, buttery paratha (£1.50); a fine onion kulcha (£1.99); good rotis (£1.25). This is much more than vegetarian food, it is very good food indeed.
The service is charming and urbane as befits a family of lawyers. There is no alcohol on sale but you can BYO and borrow a beer glass. To anyone who eats out in London the prices are jaw-droppingly good value and to the vegetarians in and around WR9 Mendi must be seen as manna from heaven. I am very grateful that somewhere so good has opened so close to home.

Mendi, Worcester Road, Wychbold, Near Droitwich, Worcestershire WR9 7PA (01527 861912)

Charles Campion - Tuesday 7th May 2013

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