Annayu (“living life through food”) opened at the very end of April 2014, located on the ground floor of the Radisson Blu Hotel near Heathrow. There seems to have been a recent trend for these airport hotels to host more ambitious Indian restaurants that one might otherwise expect, as in a short period of time Mr Todiwaa’s Kitchen and Madhus at The Sheraton have opened too. The head chef here, Madhup Singha, trained in the Taj Hotel in Mumbai before moving to the UK and working for three years at Portes des Indes. The menu is more ambitious than standard high street fare, with several unusual dishes.
The dining room feels a touch gloomy with its dark walls, and certainly the lighting is very low, the tables left uncovered though there were large white linen napkins. There was a short wine list, with labels such as Blackstone Merot 2010 at £28.45 for a wine that can be found in the high street for £7, and small bottles of Kingfisher at a hefty £4.85 each. Mineral water was £4.50 a bottle.
Gunpowder scallops had a trio of shellfish marinated with sesame seeds and peanuts (the “gunpowder”) as well as chilli, cumin-scented petit pois and avocado oil. The scallops were quite tender though lacked sweetmess, but the peas had reasonable flavour and there was a quite potent chilli kick (13/20). A mixed basket of pakoras included cauliflower, lotus root and spinach pakora, the vegetables rolled in flour and fried, the batter a little crude but tasty enough (12/20).
A pair of large tandoori prawns (£20) was nicely cooked, though they had a smell that suggests that they were frozen and washed with chlorine to kill bacteria; either way they were past their best. The spices they were marinated in was fine and the flesh was tender, but they lacked the sweetness that a really good quality, fresh prawn possesses (11/20).
Methi chicken (£11) had chicken that tasted cheap to me, the sauce having some fenugreek but lacking the intsenity to really make up for the lacklustre meat (11/20). Dal makhani (£7) had quite good texture and a pleasant smokiness of flavour (12/20). Naan bread was reasonable but I slightly preferred a good tandoori roti (12/20).
Desserts are made from scratch in the kitchen rather than bought in, and were a mixed affar. Gulab jamun had decent almond flavour but was not completely cooked through (10/20), but passion fruit and rice posset topped with pistachios was a revelation. Posset is a simple enough dish to make, but getting the right proportions of cream, sugar and fruit can be elusive. This was spot on, the pistachios adding an extra flavour; this could have come from a pastry section of a much grander restauramt (15/20).
The bill came to £63 a head, with just a couple of beers apiece. Service was very good, our waitress excellent. If you ordered three courses and shared a bottle of wine then a typical bill all in would be around £68 a head, which is a lot of money for a rather erratic meal in Hounslow. The odd dish showed that there was some ability in the kitchen, and certainly the standard attained is well above high street fare, but this seems to me just too high a price point.