I popped into The Standard in Jericho for a quick Saturday lunch recently, to see if I could banish some of my January blues. It’s a local institution serving Bangladeshi and South Asian food and has been run by the same family since 1972. I’m a regular and have enjoyed lots of good meals there, so felt it high time for a Bitten review.
I’m pleased to say it didn’t disappoint and I left feeling happily well-fed and full of sunshine.
The Standard is a small, welcoming space on Walton Street with attentive, friendly service. In the daytime, you can people-watch through the large window overlooking the Phoenix Picturehouse, though at night it feels very cosy. Most evenings there is a crowd of people inside, along with delivery people rushing back and forth. As I mentioned, it’s a popular place. Lunchtime was relatively quiet and ideal for a laid-back meal with two hungry companions. We dived straight into mains, although starters, including classics such as the bhaji, samosas, or chicken chaat, are all very good.
Lamb Nihari (£12.95), a slow-cooked curry, was deliciously distinctive and well-spiced. The lamb was cooked on the bone so each piece was especially flavourful and tender. It was served in a sauce featuring chana dal (essentially split chickpeas) that gave firmness and balance to the dish. I love aromatic dal like these, permeated with all the spices in the sauce after the long simmer. This sauce edged towards being slightly bitter, which I enjoyed, especially as it contrasted well with the sweetness of our second main: tamarind and black pepper chicken (£9.45).
This dish was a south Indian style masala featuring the rich sweetness of coconut as well as the tamarind. The black pepper added heat but also a complex tang of earthy, citrus flavours. It’s sometimes easy to forget that pepper isn’t just a table-top accompaniment to salt, but clearly the chef hadn’t. The chicken itself was unremarkable, but rather served as a vehicle for the delicious, plentiful sauce, which you could scoop up with the naan (£2.25), ladle over the pilau rice (£2.35), or just spoon up directly (my preferred method).
Our third dish was a classic tandoori lamb shashlik (£10.95). This bright and meaty dish was redolent of cumin – another of my favourites – and served simply with roasted peppers, tomatoes and onion. The usual accompaniment of a yoghurt mint sauce was a pleasing contrast to the charred veg. A salad on the side, with a tamarind-based dressing, lightened up the dish and in fact the whole lunch.
We were hungry, and I’m committed to thorough food reviews…
So we also tried out a side of Tarka dal (£4.95). It was a mild combination of lentils and garlic cooked up to a creamy texture with a pleasingly golden saffron hue. It worked well as an accompaniment to the stronger flavours on the table, though I felt it could have used a little bit more salt. I did think it was a generous portion, just slightly smaller than our mains, but we still managed to polish it off. This was the only vegetarian item we ate for lunch, but overall there is a good range to choose from. The Biryani and the classic curries have a vegetable option, while there’s paneer for the shashlik and tikka masala.
I passed on the limited ice cream desserts in favour of a home-made mango lassi (£2.25). I’m a serious mango fan and thought that this one was quite fruity and delicious, as well as adding to the sunny feel of our lunch. And, last of all, we enjoyed spiced masala chai (£2.20) while I reflected on what a delightful meal it had been. At that point, Kawsar, one of the co-owners, stopped by the table to say hello. He explained that he and his brother Dildar have been slowly updating the menu since they took over from their father in 2011, especially through the addition of more Bangladeshi options. So far, their refinements have been spot on.
There have been quite a few changes to the Jericho dining scene recently (good-bye to Loch Fyne and Mezzetto; hello to the Giggling Squid and Jericho Grill), so I’m pleased that the Standard remains a tried and trusted friend. If you don’t already know it, I recommend checking it out as soon as you can.