Indian restaurants in London v India

Friday, April 19th , 2013

zoilo 5472 upstairs-crop-v2.JPG

After a week in India I felt it a good week to benchmark a couple of Indian restaurants in London. Machaan is the second branch of a place in Hampton Wick, this new one opening a few weeks ago near Stamford Brook. The area around there, extending up to King Street in Hammersmith, is packed with utterly forgettable Indian restaurants, and sadly Machaan just adds to this set rather than bring anything better to the area. Dull, generic spicing, overcooked fish and a poor aloo tikki combined with bizarrely lengthy delays in delivering dishes. One day someone will hopefully open a good Indian restaurant in the Chiswick area, but this is not that day.

Better was Delhi Grill in Islington, which has attracted quite a local following and is unusual in having an active PR company, resulting in several print reviews. I found it pleasant and certainly above average, but not more than that, and the dishes that we tried were somewhat erratic in standard. It is at least quite moderately priced. Boosters for London often claim that Indian restaurants in London are better than those in India. I would suggest that those people need to travel more in India. To be sure, there are some good Indian restaurants in the capital (Haandi, Brilliant, Amaya etc) but still none to touch the very best places that I have eaten at in India. 

Easily the best meal of the week was at Zoilo (pictured), an Argentinian tapas restaurant that opened a few months ago in Mayfair. The Argentinian places in London tend to be generic and uninspiring steak places like Gaucho Grill, but Zoilo has more ambition. Instead a small plate format showcases versions of street food and other snacks, with quite a few vegetarian choices. The dishes I tried were generally very good, the service excellent, the bill moderate. I would happily return.

If you want to get a taste of the Simon Rogan (of l’Enclume) culinary empire without leaving the capital then you will need to do so before 20th June, which is when Roganic finishes its short-term lease. There are no announced plans for a replacement, but perhaps Mr Rogan will return to London at some future point.

The next blog will be a few days later than its usual Saturday slot, but there will be a lot of restaurants to make up for that.