The restaurant 1947 London opened in October 2019. The name is a reference to the year in which the former UK colony of India was partitioned into the independent states of India and Pakistan. Confusingly there is also a restaurant called 1947 (which is completely unconnected) in Spitalfields. This 1947 is in a quiet side street just off Charlotte Street, its entrance opposite the Rathbone Hotel on Rathbone Street, which intersects Charlotte Street. The head chef is Krishna Negi, and who was head chef at the excellent Tangawizi when it opened in 2004, and later worked with Vineet Bhatia. The basement room is smartly decorated, and there is a separate bar area to one side. The menu is fairly standard north Indian fare, though with some slightly more exotic dishes such as home smoked tandoori salmon and wild mushroom tikki, in addition to more familiar dishes.
The wine list had 38 labels and ranged in price from £38 to £285, with a median price of £50 and an average markup to retail price of 3.7, which might raise eyebrows in Mayfair, never mind in Charlotte Street. This is one of the highest average markups that I have ever seen in a restaurant. Sample references were Chardonnay D'Alamel By Lapos Tolle 2017 at £28 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £7, Allegory Shiraz 2015 at £40 compared to its retail price of £13, and Charmes De Kirwan 2014 at £95 for a wine that will set you back £34 in the high street. For those with the means there was Antinori Cervaro Della Sala 2018 at £125 compared to its retail price of £50, and Antinori Tignanello 2015 at £180 for a wine whose current market value is £112. A bottle of Dom Perignon didn’t even have the vintage. Alternatively, Cobra or Asahi beer is £5, which is what we drank given the mark-ups of the list and the fact that corkage was refused. I never really understand why places refuse to allow corkage at any price. I would have been happy to pay a substantial corkage fee, which would have been pure profit to the restaurant, but instead they had to live with the profits generated by two pints of draft lager. Ah well.
Although the menu notionally has “small plates” it was explained that these are starter sized, so why not just label them “starters”? A pair of tandoori lamb chops were slathered in a spicy marinade involving Kashmiri chilies and green herb chutney before being grilled. The chops were nicely cooked, served with salad leaves to contrast with the richness of the meat (14/20). Three very large prawns were marinated in spices and cooked in the tandoor. They were very tender, which is not a trivial thing to achieve with such big prawns, and they had good natural flavour (14/20).
Lamb biryani came in a pot sealed with a pastry lid, which nicely captures the aromas of the dish until it is cut open at the table. The lamb was tender and the rice aromatic (14/20). The star dish was the classic butter chicken, the sauce suitably rich and the chicken pieces nicely suffused with spices and topped with dried fenugreek leaves. This was a very fine rendition of butter chicken (15/20). Also excellent was channa masala, which had tender chickpeas and well-balanced spicing (14/20). A dish called aloo udayagiri comprised baby potatoes cooked with a green masala involving fried curry leaf power and coriander They retained their texture well, the masala nicely lifting their flavour (14/20). Naan bread was pleasant, being reasonably soft and supple (13/20). To finish, both almond kulfi and salted caramel kulfi had smooth texture and were served at the right temperature (14/20).
Service was good, and the bill came to £85 per person for lots of food plus beer. The food at 1947 is very good, the décor smart and the menu appealing. It is a shame about the wine pricing but you can’t have everything, and the core of the offering, the cooking itself, is of a higher standard than most places in central London.