Monday, June 15, 2009
19. Fusion: Chaula's Fusion
Badgerman and I though that we should turn our Sussex Ethnic Eats attentions closer to home and walked to Chaula’s Fusion on Station Street in Lewes, just up the road from the mainline rail station. It had only been open five weeks but on the shoulders of Chalua Patel’s reputation for fantastic, well cooked, good value food the café is already popular. We have known Chaula for many years as she is one of our neighbours and with her husband owns our excellent, local shop from which we used to get her fabulous home cooked take away Gujerati food. She opened her restaurant Chaula’s that serves her wonderful brand of Indian food a year or so ago. It’s next to the Waitrose store in Lewes (you’ll find it on the S.E.E. map), we often go there and will review it in the near future.
Eagerly we mounted the two steps to the quite small restaurant with seating for 12 and perused the menu boards. It took me a few moments to see how the fare was different from ordinary café food but I soon got the hang of it and spotted the hand-made Gujerati starter specialities- 30p. each, in the front counter and items such as Sag Aloo Pie- £1.45 amongst the more traditional egg and cress sandwiches (£1.80 for a sandwich and £2.00 for a baguette) and slices of pizza for £1.25. Being open-minded, and knowing what good food we have had at Chaula’s other restaurant, we asked the very friendly serving lady for a selection of starters and slices of chicken tikka pizza.
Our starter bowls arrived very quickly and we eagerly tucked in. At nine o’clock as pictured above, was a little, perfectly cooked veggie Samosa; the crispy outer yielded to a delicious, mellowly-spiced spinach, potato and pea inner. The Petis, at 12 o’clock, one of Badgerman’s favourites, is a tasty pea and mashed potato, yummy bite. We had never had a Kachori, one o’clock, but were surprised by the depth of the taste in the spicy lentil filling. The spring roll and mango chutney at three and six o’clock respectively rounded off the plate nicely. It’s fair to say we enjoyed each of the starters but I would like to see the dish served with a larger amount of salad or even appear on the menu as a salad plate.
Our attentive waitress brought our pizza (pictured right) quickly and I hesitatingly tucked in. I had imagined somehow that it would have Italian herbs and chicken tikka and this misunderstanding had kept me away from ‘fusion’ food but our ‘pizza’ had, of course, been flavoured with Indian spices and was an absolute treat! I can honestly say that I enjoyed every bite and think it is worth a trip just to have a slice of the Chaula’s veggie of meat pizza of the day. The thin crust was beautifully cooked and was piled with roasted peppers, tomato sauce, red onions, peppers, cheese and a generous amount of chicken tikka pieces. I would, however, say that I would still liked to have had more salad.
Bagderman had a beer and I had water and we finished, me with a pungent and refreshing Chai tea and pistachio, kulfi ice-cream and Badgerman with a good cappachino.
I got talking to our waitress who had been deftly handling the take-away trade as well as us eat ins. She explained that as well as the long list of salad and baguette fillings, there were weekly special and customers could have lasagne, pasta and noodle dishes to take away for £1.75 - £2.50 or if they wished could eat these in the restaurant, served with a side salad and garlic bread for £3.99 - £ 4.90. There was a lovely, tempting selection of sweetmeats such as Gulab Jamun for £1.75, Kaju rolls for £1.49 and assorted Nut Halwa for £1.29 ready for taking away or eating in. As wells as Chaula’s famous frozen dishes- no home freezer is complete without them, there is an interesting array of reasonably priced herbs and spices and ice creams and lollies too.
I think this will become quite a popular place and I wish them all the best- they certainly are trying hard to succeed.
Our bill, including drinks but excluding tip was £16.66.
Food presentation: 2
Food quality: 3
Value for money: 4