Top Indian Food in outer London

Saturday, August 22nd , 2020

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Dastaan (pictured) is a remarkable little restaurant in Ewell, on the outskirts of London in a terrace of shops in Surrey. The culinary founders were senior chefs (including the head chef) at Michelin-starred Gymkhana, but couldn’t afford central London rents. What intrigues me is that they are cooking better food here than they ever did at Gymkhana itself, despite the far lower budget premises and without fancy luxury ingredients – it is their cuisine now, and it shows. I have had many meals here, the latest featuring a remarkable spinach and mushroom dish, superb tandoori lamb chop and gloriously rich methi chicken. Even the vegetable bhajia was a joy, in a different league entirely from the onion bhajia that we all know from less capable Indian restaurants. The pricing is fair and demand has grown as its reputation has spread. On the Tuesday night this week, they had a waiting list of 148 for their 30-seat restaurant. Michelin give it a mere bib gourmand, yet the food here is better than any of the starred Indian restaurants in the capital.

The list of restaurant casualties of the pandemic continues to grow, Dairy in Clapham (along with its sister wine bar Counter Culture) is the latest, along with Emilia. This follows The Ledbury, Texture, Indian Accent, Lucknow 49 and even the venerable Radha Krishna Bhavan (formerly Sree Krishna). The Greenhouse also folded, though that was on the cards pre-pandemic due to the financial situation of its owner. I don’t count places that are relocating, such as Le Caprice and Darjeeling Express.