Many up-market Indian restaurants in London are disappointing, and after a good start this one seems on the decline. The cooking stretches beyond the usual fare into interesting regional dishes, while service fluctuates from off-hand to reasonable. More recent experiences have tended to the former. In particular there is a tendency not to respect reservation times, which I find deeply irritating.
The floor of the main dining area is in two areas. The first part is patterned black and white marble, the second a bare wood floor which has in it some of the frosted skylights that you sometimes walk over on pavements that cover basements. The walls are stone, painted off white, while the ceiling is white. Lighting, from a mix of directed ceiling spotlights and hanging lamps, is reasonably bright. Sitar music plays in the dining room. The tables and chairs are very interesting; each table is unique some of marble, some made of wood but with a glass top looking into a base of embroidery, or in our case a marble balustrade. One table is even made out of an old four-poster bedstead, complete with drapes. The chairs are very impressive, varied but all of intricate design, some with inlaid wood and most chairs elaborately carved. On the walls are various Indian carvings and some photos of India. There is a downstairs dining area that is usually not in use.
Starters I have tried include aloo tikki chat, which is a Southall speciality that rarely ventures to the West End. Some carefully cooked potatoes were stuffed with green peas, lentils and spices, with a sambal (tamarind) sauce, all mixed in with yoghurt and laced with fresh coriander, garnished with shreds of fresh ginger. This was competent but cold (2/10). I had a dish of five scallops, deep-fried and served with an excellent salad of red chillies, green peppers, red onions, curry leaves, fried coconut and a little coriander (2/10).
For main course you could sample chettinad chicken, which is basically a peppery chicken curry, the flavour predominantly that of curry leaves with a little aniseed. A makhani dal, once a fine creation here, was now rather watery. Alternatively try a dish of four tandoori prawns, straight from the charcoal over and served with a red onion salad. The large prawns were somewhat chewy. A wild mushroom methi had various wild mushrooms, liberally coated with fenugreek and ginger (3/10). Zeera aloo was the least good dish on one visit, with potatoes that were perhaps a touch too starchy, though still with their texture and coated with cumin. Rice, both plain basmati and a version with saffron, was light and fluffy (3/10), while the breads were excellent. Naan was too hard while the paratha was crumbly (0/10).
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