Madhu’s in Richmond opened in April 2022, a restaurant within an expanding Madhu’s group that originated with Madhu’s in Southall. There are other branches including Madhu’s Heathrow, one in Mayfair and a branch on the fifth floor of Harvey Nichols, as well as a place in Hertfordshire. The Harvey Nichols is particularly relevant as the decor of the Richmond branch is a direct copy of that one, right down to the cutlery. This little restaurant seats just 24 diners, with seats at a bar around an open kitchen, some booths, and a few tables in a downstairs dining room. The head chef here is Mohit Hora, who has worked in the Madhu’s empire after training at a hotel in Delhi. The kitchen has a robata charcoal grill, and also produces romali roti, which is not often seen in London.
Mini popadoms came with a trio of chutneys: mango, mint and tamarind, which are a familiar selection at Madhu’s restaurants elsewhere. I began with an assortment of the meat starters: murgh malai, lamb chop and chicken samosa. The chicken samosa used filo pastry as the outer wrapper and was the least interesting of the three, though the pastry was crisp and the filling pleasant enough. Better was tender chicken malai that had been marinated and then grilled, having nicely absorbed the gentle spices of its marinade. Best was a lamb chop cooked on the robata grill and incorporating a pleasing smoky hint from the charcoal, the meat tender and cooked carefully (14/20 on average).
My wife ate a vegetarian thali featured black dhal, aloo gobi, spinach, rice and a vegetable samosa. The samosa used regular pastry rather than filo pastry and was enjoyable; I actually preferred it to the chicken one, with the mixed vegetable filling pleasantly spicy and the pastry not too thick. The dhal was excellent, the lentils cooked overnight and still retaining some bite, the spices enlivening the pulse. The aloo gobi was good (I had the same dish) and the only minor technical issue was that the spinach was just a little saltier than ideal, though the spinach had good texture and plenty of flavour. A naan bread with the thali was soft and fluffy, and this dish a self-contained meal in itself and was priced at £27.
I had chicken biryani, the grains of rice fluffy and distinct, aromatic with spices and with pieces of thigh meat that entirely avoided dryness. This was a very good biryani indeed (14/20). On the side, aloo gobi mattur had a mix of potatoes, cauliflower and peas, the vegetables retaining their texture well, the spices permeating the dish. It is all too common for this dish to feature overcooked vegetables, but this version had accurate cooking, and the spices were nicely controlled (14/20). Romali roti is a very thin bread that is tossed in the air then folded over a very hot metal hemisphere for a few seconds before being served. It is a lovely bread and was served with seconds of being cooked here; this bread needs to be served quickly or it can get papery and hard around the edges quite quickly, but this was a fine version (easily 14/20).
Carrot halwa was served warm and had good texture, the natural sweetness of the carrot enhanced with sugar and topped with a scattering of pistachios (14/20). Kulfi was also good, though this was served just a touch too cold, and was better after a minute or two to allow its temperature to rise a little. This had smooth texture and good almond flavour (13/20)
Coffee was Illy, which is probably the best of the main industrial coffees that dominate the restaurant scene in London. Service, led by a charming young manager called Omar, was very good. I was being treated to this meal by a friend so did not see the bill tonight, but a typical cost per person might be around £55.