Jamavar is the brand used for the flagship restaurants of the luxury hotel group Leela in India. I have eaten at several of the hotel’s restaurants around India, from Jamavar Bangalore to Jamavar Goa, Jamavar Mumbai and Jamavar Delhi. The London venture, which opened in 2016, was the first stand-alone Jamavar not attached to a hotel. Chef Surender Mohan moved to London in early 2018 and the cooking moved noticeably up a notch soon after his arrival. Mr Mohan is the executive chef of the whole Leela Hotel group. Having previously cooked at (and indeed opened) at the lovely Jamavar in Bangalore as far back as 2001.He oversees six Jamavar restaurants, this being the only one so far to be located outside India. The restaurant is spread over two floors and is as smartly decorated as you would expect given the prime Mount Street Mayfair location.
Tonight, we opted for a surprise tasting menu. This started with mushroom truffle khichdi involved wild mushrooms, mung beans, asparagus and cumin with a shaving of black truffle. This was enjoyable enough, though the truffle rather lacked fragrance (14/20). Much better were Nadan roast prawns, a Keralan dish cooked with caramelised shallots, roasted fennel, chillies and coconut chips, as well as a touch of lime. This dish was absolutely superb, the prawns of high quality and perfectly cooked, the blend of spices beautifully judged, the textural contrast from the coconut chips a clever touch (17/20).
Parsi partridge croquettes comprised spiced partridge mince that had been deep fried, served with sprout pomegranate salad and tomato chutney. This was an unusual and enjoyable dish, the delicate and slightly gamey flavour of the partridge working well with the spices (15/20). Stone bass tikka was absolutely superb, the fish beautifully cooked in the tandoor and having nicely absorbed the spices of its marinade, which included mace and green cardamom, served with a refreshing avocado and mint chutney (17/20)
Tandoori morels featured large morels from Kashmir, accompanied by green peas and fresh tomato. These had good flavour and came with a mint chutney (15/20). Adraki (ginger) lamb chop was lovely, the meat tender and having absorbed its spicey marinade, served with a salad of royal cumin, fennel, carrot and of course ginger (17/20).
Rabbit tikka was an off-menu dish that actually worked out really well, the meat avoiding the dryness that often plagues rabbit dishes, in this case due to the marinade and the careful cooking. I have never had this before but the kitchen really pulled a rabbit out of a hat with this dish (16/20). Carefully spiced and precisely cooked tandoori prawns came with a peanut and curry leaf chutney. These were large prawns yet were evenly cooked through and had deep flavour (16/20).
Malvani prawn curry combined king prawns with coconut milk, tamarind and a malvani masala mix that includes coriander and cumin seeds, fennel and poppy seeds and peppercorns along with star anise, red chillies, mace and turmeric. The prawns were again high quality and precisely cooked, the coconut milk and the spices an excellent combination (16/20).
Achari gobi had carefully cooked cauliflower that had retained its texture well, flavoured with pickling spices, tomatoes and ginger (15/20). Malabar potato used Desiree potatoes that had been cooked with crushed garlic and slow-roasted chillies. Far too many Indian restaurant potato dishes result on soggy potatoes, but not here, with the texture nicely preserved and there being a real garlic kick (15/20). Kamarakom sea bass curry rested in a sauce of Malabar black tamarind, sun-dried chillies and coconut, the natural sweetness of the tamarind brining an interesting flavour to work with the bass (15/20).
Traditional black dhal was cooked overnight and was suitable dark and rich (17/20). Breads were also classy (15/20). Bhindi is a particularly tricky dish to execute well, all too often resulting in the okra becoming a slimy mess. Here it was done properly, the pieces of okra retaining their texture and having good flavour, the sauce having nicely balanced spices. This is about as good a bhindi dish as you are going to find anywhere, and I have tried plenty in India (17/20).
We sampled a few desserts. Warm Valrhona guanaja chocolate mousse came with a sesame and poppy seed crisp along with vanilla bean ice cream. This was very nicely made, the chocolate suitably rich but balanced by the ice cream, with the crisp adding a textural contrast (15/20). Pistachio milk cake came with cream cheese, vanilla and rose petals and was quite aromatic. Winter berries rasmalai had a variety of winter fruits along with mixed berry cream and chutney and a wheat biscuit. Rasmalai is a dish from eastern India and is made from Indian cottage cheese discs cooked in sugar syrup (14/20).
Service was very good throughout this lengthy meal. I was being treated to this meal so did not see the bill, but if you ordered less extravagantly and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per person might be around £80. This does not seem excessive to me given the Mayfair location and above all the extremely high standard of cooking on display.