Highgate’s new Indian restaurant can’t wait to welcome guests back
- Credit: Namaaste
Opening his new Highgate restaurant during a pandemic was not really part of the plan for Namaaste's Sabbir Karim.
Two years before coronavirus, Sabbir identified South Grove as the location for his third restaurant - in addition to Camden Town and Bloomsbury - after discovering that many of his existing customers lived in the Highgate area.
He set out to create a restaurant with a "street food concept" but issues with contractors meant work was not complete when the pandemic arrived and opening was delayed until the autumn.
Sabbir told the Ham&High: “We were open for three weeks before the second lockdown hit, but thanks to our unique concept in this short time we managed to make a positive impact within the Highgate community, who have been so welcoming and supportive of us.
“We didn’t want to open during the pandemic, it has been hard, and we have had to adapt very quickly to all the new measurements.”
To adhere to regulations, the restaurant brought in PPE, installed clear table separators, and offered the contactless option of ordering food online, but with the restaurant now closed, for a second time, Sabbir says the biggest challenge is getting it open again.
From April 12 he is planning to have four to five tables for diners outside.
He said feedback from locals has shown that the restaurant is providing "a valuable service to the community”.
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“When I opened this restaurant I wanted to move away from the traditional fine dining to a street food concept that was not yet in Highgate,” Karim said.
He puts his success down to his passion for food and the enrichment he gets from his second job as a purser for British Airways, which has enabled Karim to travel the globe and train under top chefs in Deli.
Although Sabbir is Bangladeshi, he says he is influenced by many cuisines.
“My wife is from Pakistan so I am very much influenced by Karachi cuisine, as we spend a lot of time there," he said.
“I am passionate about all of the dishes on my menu. One of them is my wife’s recipe - Aneela’s home-style cooked mutton biryani - and a must-try is Mangalorean Korri Gassi Chicken. The Butter Chicken and Jackfruit and Artichoke Biryani are all very good.
“We’re constantly evolving with the food trends, looking at eating healthier and offering vegan options which we’re proud to do.”