1 Snowden Street, London, EC2A 2DQ, United Kingdom

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Darbaar is tucked away in between HKK and Anima, in a quiet part of the City that is gradually getting livelier with the addition of the nearby Broadgate Circus development. On a busy night, as this Saturday was, the hard surfaces and open kitchen contribute to quite a noisy dining room, something I hadn’t noticed on a previous off-peak visit.

At this meal I was able to try quite a variety of dishes as we were in a larger group. As before, Keralan shrimp cocktail had a coconut-based sauce and carefully cooked, spicy prawns (14/20). The “nanza”, an Indian take on pizza, was again excellent, with chilli chicken and caramelized onion enlivening the base of naan bread with Cheddar – the chicken was excellent and the overall effect very enjoyable (14/20). Amritsar squid fritters were the least interesting dish of the night, just little rings of deep fried squid with a touch of spice, but not enough to really distinguish the dish (barely 12/20).  King scallops with red cabbage porial (a dry Tamil Nadu dish involving chilli, curry leaves and coconut) was very pleasant, the cabbage working well with the spices and the scallops lightly cooked (13/20).

Wild Madagascar prawn cooked Bengali style was another good dish, the large prawn served in its shell, its flavour enhanced with spices and very tender (14/20). As before, masala quail with chickpea salad was excellent (14/20), as was kid goat biryani with its fluffy rice and flavourful meat that successfully managed to avoid drying out, all too common an issue in biryani (14/20). Sea bass with shrimp and coconut sambal had accurately cooked fish, though more sambal would have been welcome (13/20). Butter chicken was once again a glorious, rich dish, tender unctuous chicken with gentle spices, though not something of which a cardiologist would approve. For side dishes, spinach with sweetcorn was nicely spiced and had good leaves (14/20, and the black dhal was excellent, smoky and rich as before (15/20). I also really enjoyed cumin potatoes, which retained their texture and had nicely absorbed the spices (14/20).  Breads are particularly good here, supple and having excellent texture, the naan with a pleasing hint of charcoal from the tandoor (15/20). 

The bill came to £66 a head, with plenty of beer to drink. Kulfi was a refreshing way to finish the meal, with pleasant texture and good almond flavour (13/20). Coffee was marginally improved from my last visit (now a premium sub-brand of Musetti) but I still feel that this has plenty of scope for improvement. Overall Darbaar is a most enjoyable experience: it serves both classic and innovative Indian dishes that work well and show plenty of skill. I just hope that the place can overcome its obscure location, which would only be slightly harder to find from the street if it used camouflage.   

Further reviews: 25th Dec 2017 | 28th Oct 2017 | 09th Jan 2016

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