Going All Exotic in Rye

Posted on Front of House Sep 2012 - by Tandoori Editor
Going All Exotic in Rye

Dev Biswal is one of those chef-patrons who likes to keep his head down and get on with the work. The more he does it, the better it seems he gets as a chef. No wonder he’s just won an AA Rosette at his Margate site of The Ambrette and then to top it all off, during the summer, he introduced an exotic sampler menu at his second restaurant The Ambrette at Rye. Exotic in that it has certain meats that may or may not be to everyone’s taste – from kangaroo and crocodile to zebra and python too. One may wince at the thought of eating such wild catch, but Biswal is ken to assure us that it’s all rather flavoursome, particularly when grilled on the Indian barbecue of sagri. Naturally, one would have to make up one’s own mind as to how one feels about dining on a fillet of Vietnamese python flamed with Indian dark rum then slow cooked in a spiced sauce of tomato and onion for five hours, or even crocodile cooked for several hours in an Indian coastal sauce of coconut, tamarind and spices. If that’s likely to ruffle any feathers in the picturesque high street of Rye, well, locals certainly haven’t shown it. Quite the opposite in fact. They’ve rather taken to Biswal’s gutsy and handsomely presented cooking – whether it’s for his short and well-selected choice of a la carte dishes or his somewhat unconventional choice of meats.

“You get some people who do have to think twice about eating such daring ingredients,” admits Biswal, “but that’s to be expected. It can be quite a leap for them. But then you get so many people who are unexpectedly and pleasantly surprised, specially when it comes to the water buffalo, which is a lean, low fat meat and quite wonderful in taste.” Biswal’s cooking seems a far cry from his days when growing up in Calcutta, where he learnt his skills at the institute of hotel management. “Getting into catering wasn’t a very fashionable thing to do at the time,” he states, “but I went against the grain of what my peers were doing because I felt that it would be full of adventure, not knowing what to expect. It’s been hard work for sure and I’m still learning, but I think I was proven right.”

Having worked at a five-star hotel in Calcutta at first, Biswal moved to western India to head up an Indian chain restaurant group before moving on to Dubai, in 1999, where he worked for the Sheraton’s multi-cuisine restaurant. “I picked up a lot working there,” he says. “The experience really opened my mind to world cuisine and gave me a glimpse of how exciting the world of cooking and hospitality can be. I was there for two years before coming to London and working at a couple of restaurants for just over two years. After that, I made tracks for Margate and haven’t looked back since. With time, Biswal has become ever more skilled, with presentation being a real forte. Yet, the talented chef states that he always goes back to basics and wanting to showcase subcontinental cooking at its best. “Even now, he says passionately, “cooking from the subcontinent is very much in its infancy, particularly when it comes to street food. All you have to do is walk down a street anywhere in Indian or Pakistan and it becomes jaw droppingly evident as to the sheer variety of food available. I want to expose that variety to the British palate, but in my own distinctive way.”

 

Sample Menu

 

Starters

Delicate fillet of Claresse  

Tender breasts of wood pigeon 

Mains

Gently spiced meat of fresh local crab

Breast of Gressingham duck 

Wild and Exotic Menu

Tender and tasteful southwest African ostrich brochette

Fillet of crocodile from Southern Africa

Juicy and chunky fillet of fresh water Nile Perch from Tanzania

Tender and succulent Zebra Steak

 

The Ambrette Restaurant, 44 King Street, Margate, Kent CT9 1QE

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