Madhus of Mayfair

The Dilly Hotel, 21 Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BH, United Kingdom

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Madhus of Mayfair opened in June 2021, sister to the original Madhus in Southall and Madhus at The Sheraton. It is located inside a rather grand room within the Dilly Hotel, just yards from Piccadilly station. The dining room has impressive chandeliers but no natural light, so the room is quite dark. I needed my phone light to read the menu, which was produced using a surprisingly small font size given the gloomy room. The head chef is Amardeep Anand, who worked for almost eight years with the Taj hotel group. The extensive menu offered a wide a la carte choice that will be familiar to those who have eaten at other Madhus venues. The food is Punjabi and various classic dishes are all here as they are at the original Southall branch, as well as one or two more exotic additions such as jeera scallops (£17).

You could of course have beer as this is an Indian meal, but there was a good-sized wine list as well. Sample labels were Baron de Baussac Carignon 2019 at £31 for a wine that you can find in the high street for £9, Dr Loosen Graacher Himmelreich Spatlese 2018 at £59 compared to its retail price of £25, and Vina Tondonia Reserva 2006 at £79 for a wine that will set you back £37 in a wine shop. There were a few grander offerings such as Antinori Tignanello at £255 compared to its retail price of £151 and Penfolds Bin A Chardonnay 2018 at £215 for a wine whose current market value is £59.

The meal began with popadoms and chutneys, the former rather tiny in scale, rather too much so for easily accommodating the chutney. My starter of tandoori lamb chops was cooked on a robata grill, the meat marinated in spices before picking up the hint of charcoal from the grill itself. The New Zealand chops were quite tender and enjoyable, some ginger discernible in the marinade, though I preferred the version at Madhus at The Sheraton (13/20), Cauliflower was nicely cooked, lightly spiced and retaining the texture of the vegetables well, but was over-salted, even to my taste (12/20).

For the main course, chicken curry (murgh makhani) was pleasant, the mild spices including fenugreek nicely amalgamated and enlivening the meat, the sauce quite creamy (13/20). Channa masala was fine, the chickpeas tender and lightly spiced (13/20). However, achari prawns, charcoal grilled with pickling spices, were a “a bit of a disaster darling”, as Craig Revel Horwood might have said on "Strictly". As soon as they arrived it was easy to smell a whiff of chlorine, which happens with cheap farmed prawns. Moreover, they were chewy in texture, and we gave up after a bite (8/20). To be fair, they were removed from the bill without issue, but it did not inspire confidence. Otherwise a vegetable jalfrezi, the mixed vegetables fried with ginger, chilli and cumin, was fine (12/20) and naan bread was reasonably light and fluffy (13/20). We finished with a pleasant carrot halwa that was presented on a dish surrounded by a decorative shortbread biscuit ring (13/20).

Service was very good, led by a waiter who I recall from Gymkhana. The place was packed out, with tables being turned around us, but dishes arrived at a steady pace and wine topping up was fine. The bill per person with a bottle of Vina Tondonia was £99. If you instead shared a more modest bottle or drank beer then a more typical cost per person might be around £70. This is not a vast amount for central London, but there are so many high-quality Indian alternatives in this area these days. I simply prefer the original Madhus in Southall, even without the fancy chandeliers.

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