Editor's note. Sadly, Darbaar folded in June 2018. It served excellent food but was in a dire location, and frankly did well to last as long as it did.
I was curious to try an Indian Christmas meal rather than cooking at home, and Darbaar was a natural choice for this, given the high quality of previous meals I have eaten here. To start, Keralan crab and coconut shorba (soup) was accompanied by a little of the brown crab meat on toast. The soup had plenty of flavour, the spices enlivening but not overwhelming the crab (14/20).
A trio of kekabs featured a lamb seekh kebab, chicken flavoured with basil and a salmon tikka. The salmon was tender, the chicken perhaps a little bland, but the lamb had plenty of flavour and possessed vibrant spicing (13/20 average). A vegetarian alternative featured excellent paneer, spinach and apricot cake and a very enjoyable spicy grilled aubergine dish (14/20).
Butter chicken was gorgeous as ever here, rich and tender and, well, buttery (15/20). Goan spiced goose breast was attractively presented and served with winter vegetables. The spiced sauce with it was good, though goose is tricky meat to work with and it although it was certainly not chewy, it could have been a little more tender (13/20). Better were vegetarian malai koftas with saffron and cumin, served with a rich sauce and accompanied by a chestnut and fruit pilau with lovely, aromatic rice (14/20). As ever, the breads here were top notch, the parathas and roti lovely, supple and piping hot (15/20). Black lentils on the side were smoky, rich and with deep flavour (15/20). To finish the meal, a spiced nut and fruit pudding was unusual and interestimg, topped with rose custard. This was lighter than it looked and was thoroughy enjoyable (14/20).
Service was well meaning though a touch erratic, which I think was due to some agency staff being drafted in to help at Christmas. The food element was £85 for Christmas lunch, with drinks extra. The total came to £127 with champagne to drink. This was a very enjoyable way to spend Christmas lunch, and certainly made a fine alternative to turkey.