Review of Bhoomi – Cheltenham

A stylish and refined dining experience that stays true to Southern Indian Cooking. Using only the freshest and most succulent ingredients they certainly do what they say! Bhoomi is the Malayalam word for Earth which is ‘what our food and philosophy is centred on’, says owner Michael Raphel, who along with his amazingly attentive team, has created a restaurant where the finest Indian food and techniques embrace the natural tastes of the Earth, proving that Bhoomi is what it symbolises.

The ambience is a smart and stylish restaurant with secluded little corners for those intimate meals.

The staff attend to your every need and are very knowledgeable about the ingredients and dishes presented to you. We asked them for recommendations and asked what their own personal likes and dislikes were to establish the best recommendations for us. Your glass will be topped up constantly and napkin folded when you seek out the clean and stylish restrooms.

So what did we order?

Of course, you have to have some poppadoms – unusually but stylishly presented as quarter circles instead of the usual rounds.

These were incredible. Not your typical dips and chutneys either! Thank goodness says Sarah, who is really not a fan of the onions along with the ubiquitous chutneys from a jar or the random spicy mind blowing dip that you can’t remember the name of.

These dips were made in-house and comprised a delightfully refreshing banana and apple, a sweet and rich mango and onion seeds and our personal favourite a roasted garlic and tomato dip – so smoky and mind-blowing.  The perfect accompaniments to the crispy, wafer thin poppadoms.

For starters, we tried the Kala – Salmon that is Twenty-four hour marinated with chilli mango chutney. This Scottish salmon was beautiful and succulent with a not too spicy sauce.

Our other recommendation for a starter is the scallops! Malabari Scallops these are
pan fried with olive oil, cumin, tempered mango and spiced garlic chutney. These literally melt in your mouth and Chris thought they are possibly the best thing he has ever tasted!

The excitement of the starters left us impatiently wanting the mains! Luckily we were given a refresher.  This little jar filled amuse bouche consisted of spiced chickpeas with a yoghurt dressing and some crispy noodles – a gorgeous little explosion of tastes on the tongue making us more than ready for our mains!

Butter Chicken is an all time favourite of Sarah’s. Not spicy you say, bland and boring? A safe choice?! Well in some cases, yes but I do like spice! I just had to try this Butter Chicken. Butter roasted Cotswold chicken, cardamom, chilli, tomato & cream sauce it was truly amazing!

As lovers of duck, we had to try Duck Chettinad, a roasted breast of duck, crushed pepper, star anise, coconut & tomato jus. This dish was just incredible, you could taste the fresh tomatoes and star anise and the duck was juicy pink – just perfectly cooked!

Our dishes were served with rice and a hopper!  What’s a hopper? So our recommendation from the staff was an egg hooper! Wow! Hoppers or appa are thin pancakes with crispy edges made from rice flour, coconut milk and palm toddy (or yeast). Wonderfully versatile they worked perfectly as a side dish to the 2 delicious curries.

After all these treats we were pretty much full but of course, we managed to find room for desserts.

The pistachio kulfi was light and fluffy, nothing like the ones you get in the plastic cones from most run-of-the-mill Indian restaurants.  Surrounded by edible fruit and flower petals this dessert was beautifully presented as well as tasting sensational!

Our other choice for dessert was the chocolate samosa – a sweet take on one of Indian’s favourite dishes…again a work of art that tasted as good as it looked!!  Hot, gooey chocolate oozing out of the crunchy samosas!

Finally, we finished our meal with a couple of coffees – the coffee sourced from local speciality coffee roaster, The Scandinavian Coffee Pod.  The americano with coconut milk was the perfect end to a near-perfect meal!

Our overall score for Bhoomi is 9/10

Michael has created a fantastic modern taste of Southern India, all set in one of Cheltenham’s most beautiful settings. Congratulations on the listing in the Michelin Guide – thoroughly deserved!!!!

Published as part of Cheltenham Buzz 2016 – Co-written by Chris Shadforth

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