Chakra is tucked away in a quiet residential street in Kensington. The group executive chef here since November 2018 is Satyabrata Jena, formerly head chef of Brigadiers and before that of Jamavar, but he is based at the sister Chakra restaurant in Kingston. As well as classic dishes like butter chicken, there were some much more unusual dishes on the menu, such as avocado dumplings with pickled beetroot puree and Kewpie, a Japanese wholegrain mustard. Chakra has an outdoor covered terrace with heating, which is where we sat on this pleasant autumn evening. Our temperatures were taken on arrival, and staff mostly wore masks, albeit not always very effectively.
The wine list was quite ambitious by the standards of high street Indian restaurants, but then this is Kensington. Sadly, vintages were omitted in most cases, and there was the odd typo on the producer names, which would be easy to fix. Sample labels were El Cante Albarino at £32 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £17, Chateau Grand Faurie La Rose 2014 at £70 compared to its retail price of £22 and at Chateau Batailley 2011 at £125 for a wine that will set you back £52 in a shop. You could even have Louis Roederer Cristal of unknown vintage at £250 compared to its retail price of at least £206, depending on the vintage.
Crisp and delicate popadoms came with mango, tomato and yoghurt chutneys. My chicken malai tikka was excellent, tender from its marinade, generous in portion and having nicely absorbed the spices in the marinade (14/20). This was better than Amritsar fish and chips, where the tilapia was fairly well cooked though the batter of the fish was not crisp, and where the chips were rather soggy in texture (12/20).
Chicken biryani was served without its pastry seal but tasted fine, the rice quite aromatic and the meat avoiding dryness (14/20). Makhani dhal was probably the dish of the meal, dark and with a hint of smoky flavour, the lentils having excellent texture (15/20). Pataka aloo had pleasantly spicy potatoes (13/20) and palak paneer had good spinach flavour (13/20). Naan bread was rather less impressive, perfectly edible but a touch hard (12/20). We finished with a pleasant pistachio kulfi served on a stick, the ice cream having smooth texture and their being plenty of pistachio flavour (13/20).
The bill came to £46 per person including beer, and there was enough food left over for a complete takeaway meal. Service was fine other than the inconsistent mask wearing. Chakra seems to make some dishes better than others, but the best ones, such as the chicken malai tikka and makhana dhal, are very good indeed.
Further reviews: 13th Jul 2013
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