Everybody’s got a favourite local curry joint that’s affordable and yummy. But subcontinent cuisine isn’t just about the cheap and cheerful curry.
For discerning diners looking for an element of spicy heat balanced with refinement, London plays host to some of the world’s most elegant Indian restaurants.
Hardly exhaustive, but here are a few picks for those soon boarding flights to London looking for fabulous dishes with South Asian charm.
Veeraswamy: Established in 1926 (on the same day as Queen Liz’s birth), Veeraswamy is Britain’s oldest Indian restaurant, one of London’s oldest surviving restaurants and possibly one of its most lauded.
Right off Regent Street (the restaurants’ first floor dining room hovers above it – get a table near a window if you can!), with an “ethnic” without being kitsch atmosphere, incredibly attentive service, fascinating history and an exceptionally tasty menu: Veerswamy is an elegant restaurant serving delectable Indian cuisine. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but I must recommend trying a side dish of fresh pineapple curry. Exquisite!
Moti Mahal: There are a lot of reasons to celebrate “chic and contemporary Indian restaurant” Moti Mahal. From cookery classes personally hosted by head chef Anirudh Arora (more commonly known as Chef Ani) to innovative tasting menus (apple chutney anyone?) and events (from wine pairing to Bollywood dancing), this upscale modern restaurant goes the extra mile to delight its customers. It also serves some of the best South Asian and Indian food I’ve ever tried in Central London. Case in point: Chef Ani’s rogan josh Kashmir. Service is prompt, prices are aligned well with expectations and the rogan josh (not to mention everything else I’ve tried from the menu) is as scrumptious as a curry in London can be.
Chutney Mary: A bastion of quality Indian food for almost 20 years, Chutney Mary continues to shine as a leading example of fine Indian dining. The food is gorgeous (probably the best prawns I’ve ever had). The service is remarkably friendly and politely prompt. The especially romantic dining space is equal parts massive and intimate, evocatively lit and cosily decorated with a variety of plants. Style is high at this Chelsea resto, but never placed above substance.
Cinnamon Kitchen: Located in Devonshire Square (essentially across Bishopsgate Road from Liverpool Street Station) with a lovely terrace (and smack dabbedly up close views of the Gherkin), Cinnamon Kitchen offers modern Indian cuisine in a stylish, swish and contemporary setting. With head chef Abdul Yaseen and executive chef Vivek Singh calling the shots, this is restaurant’s got what it takes to wow even the most finicky of tastes. A good time to visit might be in the morning – the restaurant’s flavoursome Anglo-Indian breakfast is sure to please. For a similarly exceptional meal in a fascinating (and much more antiquated English) setting, visit Cinnamon Kitchen’s sister restaurant, Cinnamon Club at the Old Westminster Library.
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