Jali (February 2013)

Do not be put off by the location and go to Jali for the food. My dining comrade and I were impressed both by the quality and the value for money, it was a pity about the setting. In terms of the positives first, the menu was extensive, original (not just your typical tikka masalas) and also very vegetarian-friendly. To start, I opted for prawns and my comrade for a chickpea and spinach patty, both of which we brought to us with a range of chutneys. The flavours were light and refreshing, a contrast to many Indian restaurants that seem almost to drown their dishes in ghee and often over-cook the food. We were similarly impressed with mains of paneer (cheese) and chicken (a house speciality of Kadia murgh). If there were a (small) criticism, then it would be that despite liking my food spicy, there was perhaps too great an emphasis on ‘heat’, which somewhat predominated and could be unpleasant for the unsuspecting guest. The wine list was less impressive, with a very strong bias towards the traditional and the Old World, but surprisingly no Riesling from anywhere. Our South African Chenin Blanc was, nonetheless, very pleasant. All of this (plus sundries and service) came to just over £50. In many ways it is therefore a positive that Jali remains a relative secret on the Hastings dining scene. The location is most unprepossessing, a slightly dilapidated seafront hotel away from the more attractive old town area. It gets worse: should one need to use the bathroom, then it is necessary to venture into the hotel itself, a rude awakening after the calm of the restaurant, bright lights and many guests milling around, some with lagers in hand. Definitely worth a (return) visit, but do try and avoid the loos!