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Magic Library

Every year on my birthday, the most important decision is on where to eat. Last year, it was the excellent spuntino in London's soho for lunch followed by an equally spectacular hix for dinner. So when the day rolled in a couple of weeks back, I wanted to pick another restaurant with a wow factor.

Jiggs Kalra's masala library has been on my wish list ever since it opened a few months back. But turns out it's super popular and you can't call them up a couple of days in advance and expect a reservation. Thankfully, a last minute table did open up and masala library is where I found myself for my birthday dinner.

The 9 course chef's tasting menu starts with an amuse bouche of sev puri shot and a cheddar cheese pao. Loved the bun, while the sev puri was more show than flavour.

The meal then started with a mushroom chai. A bit of mad Heston like touch here - the servers bring in tea cups where they add dried mushrooms (tea) and white truffle oil powder (looks like creamer). The mushroom consommé is then poured over to complete the soup. I didn't much care for the dried mushrooms but the consommé had an intense flavour that made it one of my favourites for the day.

Then come in a succession of starters - all presented well and delicious but hardly memorable. What's truly memorable is the mishti doi sorbet that comes as a palate cleanser before the mains. It shows up in a tiny box as a lollipop that's truly delicious.

I frankly didn't like the mains. The dal is your signature Kalra and quite near perfect but the veggies were a bit meh and the kulchas overwhelmed by their stuffing. The desserts are presented creatively - jalebi shaped like caviar and gajar halwa pyramids surrounded by gajar halwa icecream. Fun, but not something I'd go back for.

What I will go back for are all the sides and all the little touches like the pan candy floss and the churan box. Masala Library may not be perfect but it certainly makes for a delightful evening.

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