Herb is exclusively a vegetarian restaurant and it’s not the first time we’ve visited. In fact, we’ve been 3 times in the space of a month so it’s become a regular date night destination. We’ve recently started a stint of vegan eating (spurred on by binge watching food and health documentaries 😅). So Herb is the perfect bridge between this new way of eating and date nights with delicious food.
Leicester’s little gateway to Kerala
Herb is not only a vegetarian restaurant. It accommodates many other dietary requirements too such as dairy, nut or gluten free. It’s refreshing to have a restaurant that has flipped the norm around where the entire menu is vegetarian only, rather than just a small section with limited choices. Herb is Leicester’s own little gateway to Kerala – a south Indian state famous for its spices. It’s completely different to the tikka masalas and kormas of the curry houses in the city. Instead, it offers a much more unique and authentic cuisine.
And don’t even get me started on the decor! From the entrance to the restrooms, the interior is amazingly decked out. Copper is certainly the overriding theme here – from hanging lanterns and kettles on the ceiling to the water cups and cutlery – even the plug sockets! The most eye catching feature is the motorbike that somehow works quite well with the rest of the decor. The other striking feature is the terracotta-like depiction of the Last Supper of Jesus and his disciples.
It was quiet when we arrived and the trickling water feature and relaxing flute-like music transported us to some tranquil foothills of South India, which gradually faded into the distance as the restaurant began to fill out.
The Thali comes with rice, a fried chapati and a variety of 7 small dishes ranging from very light lentil based to more creamier, coconutty curries. The chickpea dish was most distinctive as it was sweet and tomatoey, whereas the potato one was probably the least flavourful. All the dishes were mildly spiced and the rice and bread helped bring it all together.
This was black chickpeas in a roasted coconut sauce, which gave it a smokey flavour. It was sweet, mild and its rougher skin made it slightly harder than white chickpeas, giving it a bit more bite.
Onion Rava Dosa
This dosa was made of semolina and rice, with onions and what seemed like dried coconut in the batter. The edges were crispy and it was generously filled with potato and onions. It was well seasoned and very moreish, although I did struggle towards the end as it was quite potato heavy. It also comes with 3 little dips that helped add more flavour.
There was a good ratio of spinach to potato filling; about two thirds was spinach, and its slight bitterness complemented the smaller portion of mildly spiced potatoes. The dosa itself was light and crispy and felt very nutritious. Again it came with 3 dips which helped enhance the taste.
We absolutely loved these inflated breads and our eyes lit up like a kid when we saw them! It’s crispy on the outside and still soft enough so you can scoop up the dishes into one delicious mouthful 😋.
This dessert dosa didn’t wow us like the other dishes did. Although we don’t like very sweet things, I imagined this to be a sticky, sweeter and crispier crepe, maybe with a filling inside. Having said that though we still enjoyed it and the ice cream was refreshing.
Gone are the bland, lifeless and uninspiring vegetarian dishes you often see in restaurants. Herb presents vegetarian and vegan food that is packed full of authentic South Indian flavours using herbs and spices of Kerala. It certainly has become a firm favourite of ours and ticks all the boxes as we adjust to a diet that is more plant based.
The Thali is the best option if you can’t decide and want to try a bit of everything, whilst the dosas are just mesmerising 😍. There are still many more dishes we want to try so we’re definitely going to become regulars here.