Dev Biswal is the chef/patron of two prize-winning Indian restaurants situated on either side of the East Sussex/Kent borders both rather handily called The Ambrette. The Margate version came first but on a rainy winter’s lunchtime we had been invited to the historic White Vine House in the main street in Rye to review the newest addition to the family. Dev’s mission is to combine the best of British ingredients with contemporary Indian food trends to create a new take on the Anglo-Indian food tradition.
Rye is an extremely pretty little town with a history both literary, Henry James’ house and museum is here, and maritime, as member of the Cinque Ports federation. As for The Ambrette, it is located in a delightful building in the High Street. The interior is smart without being stuffy with Tudor panelling, log fires and a warm welcome from the staff.
We start with a crisp and floral glass each of Di Maria Prosecco (200ml £10.99) whilst we investigate the Lunch menu (1 course £8.99, 2 courses £14.95, 3 courses £19.95).The kitchen sent us out a couple of pre-starters.
Spiced paneer dumplings
Prettily served spiced paneer dumplings came encased in a delicate batter with the paneer soaking up the sweet-sour flavour of the tamarind chutney, whilst Spinach ginger and garlic soup was earthy, warming and perfect for the weather.
We moved on to the citrus and spice flavours of a Cape 312 Chenin Blanc (£6.95 a glass) which was robust enough to stand up to the gentle spicing of the food.
Chargrilled Artichoke Hearts
Chargrilled Artichoke Hearts were delicate and full of flavour, served with sweetened yoghourt and a selection of chutneys.
Crab and beetroot cake
Crab and beetroot cake came with the highly on trend locally grown sea purslane and a crab raita-a great expression of Dev’s approach.
Pan fried claresse
Pan fried claresse is a European freshwater fish from the catfish family. Paired with locally grown sea beet served with kedgeree, coconut sauce, ginger and mustard it was bursting with flavour.
Fresh aubergine filled with Kentish goats cheese
Fresh aubergine was filled with Kentish goats cheese, mushrooms and cumin spiced marrow, fennel potatoes and a sauce of cashew nut and mint.
I couldn’t resist the chocolate samosas paired with Darjeeling chai jelly.
Nectarine and dark chocolate ice-cream
And the nectarine and dark chocolate ice-cream was a great combo.
Dev Biswal is a chef with ambition and a strong sense of direction. Rye is wonderful destination and The Ambrette is well worth a visit if you are in the area.