Review – Deccan Tiffin at Polygon Pop Up
If you have passed through the ever-evolving Seven Dials recently, you may have noticed a large white tent attached to what used to be the home of Sam’s, a veritable Brighton institution by all accounts. Pass by this same spot late at night and you’re likely to see twinkly lights and smiling faces, and hear raucous laughter and chatter fuelled by the great selection of craft ales on offer.
Over the summer, Polygon Pop Up has taken up residence here, providing an event space to showcase some of Brighton’s top culinary talent. It’s attracted some of the big players with exciting collaborations such as Guerrilla Grill doing what they do best, and Plateau providing their exceptional cocktails.
But perhaps all the more exciting is that it’s given smaller, independent outfits such as supper clubs a chance to push themselves and share their food with a larger crowd.
The space is essentially a blank canvas; one large tent filled with long tables and benches made from recycled pallets (très Brighton), a bar at one end and a kitchen. The biggest let-down being the bathroom facilities; one portaloo, outside the rear of the building, to serve upwards of 40 diners. I’m all up for the communal vibe but I prefer to limit portaloo usage to festivals; at least my senses are usually cider-numbed.
Anyway, back to the food bit. Our delightful hostess for the evening was Priya, owner of supper club Deccan Tiffin who had devised a three-course set menu at a very reasonable (albeit slightly baffling) price-tag of £22.72.
We started off with ‘Chicken 65 with fresh coconut chutney’. The chicken breast pieces had been marinated then deep fried; they were well spiced, perfectly cooked and garnished with delicious, crispy fried curry leaves. The coconut chutney was indeed fresh, balancing the gentle chilli heat of the chicken beautifully.
My one gripe was that it arrived at our table cold, which I’m guessing wasn’t the intention. I’m a firm believer that if food is deep fried, the time between leaving the fryer and arriving in my mouth should be kept to an absolute minimum. Ultimately, the quality of the food is down to the chef, but I think the limited kitchen space at the venue didn’t help.
However, having worked on TV sets and photo shoots for several years, I’m very used to eating cold food (you didn’t think that we throw it in the bin when the cameras stop rolling, did you?).
Next up was Mutton Pulao: fragrant, lightly spiced basmati rice with a generous helping of mutton. So many people are turned off by mutton, but I’m a huge fan. It has a real depth of flavour that you don’t get with younger lamb, and stands up well against bold spices such as the cinnamon and cardamom in Priya’s dish.
Portions were generous (helping to soak up all the lovely local ales) but it would have been nicer to have just a little less rice as the spices were a tad diluted. Served alongside was a fiery, fresh kachumber salad and a delicious pomegranate raita; both perfect counterparts to the pulao.
Dessert was ‘Phirni’, a set ground rice pudding flavoured with cardamom and pandan, topped off with pistachios and rose petals. After spending a few weeks travelling around India, I formed the opinion that many Indian desserts and sweets were a fast track to diabetes, such is their sugar content, and so have tended to avoid them. I braced myself for the impending sugar rush, only to be pleasantly surprised.
The dessert rounded off the meal perfectly; slightly sweet, gently infused with cardamom and the grassy, vanilla-like flavour of pandan. Luckily I wasn’t force-fed rice pudding or semolina during my childhood (unlike many of my peers), so they remain firm favourites in the comfort food group. Priya’s version created the rare but splendid juxtaposition of being exotic yet delightfully nostalgic.
Making the leap from supper club to pop-up restaurant isn’t easy, and there were hints of struggling with numbers or being caught out by the limitations of the venue. However, these were minor niggles that didn’t take away from what was a thoroughly pleasant evening. Priya is clearly an accomplished cook, and is as passionate about sharing her food as she is about cooking it.
Ricky, the chap behind Polygon Pop Up mentioned that he’s looking to do more of the same in future, potentially looking to find a permanent venue for hosting pop-ups (ironic, but also makes perfect sense). Keep an eye out for their events and get in there fast as tickets are snapped up very quickly.
Polygon Popup ends this weekend on Saturday 29th August. Priya continues to host supper clubs throughout Autumn/Winter.
Rich’s food was complimentary, courtesy of Polygon and Deccan Tiffin.
Featured and share card image both Deccan Tiffin’s own.