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The Halli is a vegetarian restaurant in the centre of Leicester which specialises in South Indian cuisine. I go there regularly with my partner and we both think it is superb.
What first attracted me to the place was a 30/30 5 star rating from our local paper. The reviewer said that he had racked his brains but could find nothing to fault in the restaurant. I can't think of much wrong with it either.
After going there a few times, we added our names to a mailing list, thinking nothing of it. A few months later, a letter landed on my doorstep - inviting me to a celebration as the Halli had been given an award for Best Venue - Leicester Comedy Festival. There was no mention of price for the dinner and we thought this may simply have been a promotional tactic to get more custom.
When we arrived, the place was packed. Sumptuous dishes lined the room which guests were eagerly tucking into. We went to the bar, only to be told that we didn't need to pay for anything as it was on the house. What followed was one of the best nights I have had - 6 new comedy acts, all the food and drink I could want and all for free!
I am not a vegetarian and would have been reluctant to visit a vegetarian restaurant before going to the Halli. The food is always prepared freshly and is presented beautifully.
I can especially recommend the beetroot shashami, which is tangy with a great balance of spice and sweetness. The bathuras (puffy Indian bread) come to your table looking like a small dough balloon, which bursts as you put your fork into it and is light, tender and really delicious to eat.
Their paneer curry is a favourite of my partner, which comes with a rich sauce and generous chunks of cheese. The bland cheese is complemented by the spiciness of the sauce, the spices are perfectly balanced, and it is topped with fresh coriander.
The wine list, is in my view, a little pricey but this is more than made up for by the superbly good value food. (A main course will set you back from £4-£6 and a starter about £3). Anyway - wine doesn't go well with curry in any case. With a two course meal, bottle of wine and tip, our bill has never been over £30 for the two of us.
I would also recommend the dosas - really light pancakes which come in a huge portion and are again absolutely delicious. The paper masala dosa offers a really good variety of flavours.
I have never had a bad experience in the Halli. The service has invariably been excellent and the waiters will advise you if you unsure of what to order. There is also a daily special on offer as well.
Upstairs, there is a function room which often hosts hilarious comedy evenings, courtesy of Spikey Mike a local comedian.
One reviewer said this was "my favourite restaurant of any kind, anywhere!" If you go along to Granby St. in Leicester, i think you will agree.
(and no - I don't work for the Halli).
-------- P.S. The Halli also has a sister restaurant in Nottingham which specialises in seafood curries. It is called the Kerala. I haven't been, so can't comment- but if it is even half as good as the Halli, it would still be pretty special.