253 Bath Road, Hounslow, London, England, TW3 3DA, United Kingdom

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Austin Powers meets Hounslow. The decor of this "contemporary Indian" restaurant is surreal. The floor and tables are glass, as are the plates. The floor is back-lit in changing colours, and there is a plasma screen on the wall with psychedelic patterns playing. Chairs are red and they swivel; the local touch is an outsize chandelier, without which no west London Indian restaurant would be complete. Having the colour of your food change in front of you as the lighting changes colour is not an experience that you want, in my opinion.

If you can get over the decor then the food is actually a cut above the high street. There is no indication of this at the start of the meal, with popadoms oddly broken up and served with a lime pickle and a mint chutney that are very ordinary. The menu mixes conventional food with some more exotic dishes, e.g. a deep fried sea bass with mango powder, and even tandoori broccoli. The wine list is respectable; there is even Krug champagne at £135 (actually not a bad price at all) as well as Cobra beer.  Sweet lassi was nicely made (12/20).

An aloo tikki appears as four fried potato cakes with an elaborate presentation of tamarind chutney drawn on the plate in waves. Unfortunately the potato cakes themselves were quite bland, with little in the way of spices to enliven the filling (10/20). Better was "suvey ka tikka" which was just malai chicken tikka; the chicken pieces looked rather curled up and dry, but the marinade saved the day and the meat was tender enough (11/20). 

Methi chicken was less good, the meat tender but the sauce with it rather watery and lacking in distinctive fenugreek flavour (10/20). Bhindi had too much onion and tomato relative to bhindi, the okra itself not firm enough, though it was not as greasy as some (10/20).  A black dhal was rather odd in that there were few lentils at all in the sauce (10/20).  Rice was fine and the surprise star was excellent fluffy naan bread (easily 13/20).

Kulfi is home-made, and the malai version had good texture, though rather oddly it appears on a stick and you have to scrape it off this to eat it (11/20).  Service was friendly and attentive. Overall this is strange experience. The decor is some of the oddest I have seen (though Cocoon and Sketch have a similar feel), and the changing lighting is a mistake as it gives the food an eerie appearance. The excellent naan suggests some ability, yet in an attempt to be "contemporary" they seem to have cut back too much on the spices which after all are the whole point of Indian cooking e.g. a methi chicken that barely tasted of fenugreek. Prices are not bad e.g. starters £3.95 - £6.95, mains typically £6.95 - £8.95, and biriani (which unfortunately can only be had for 2-4 people) at £11.95. 

Not somewhere I would make a journey to, but if you are in the area for some reason then you could do worse.

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User comments

  • Tarra

    I think I am not in agreement with Andy Haler on this restaurant. The food is perfect as many times I have been there, its just more expensive than any other Indian restaurants in hounslow, but i guess the quality says it all. One thing which I think they should do is change the way the menu is printed, its a bit complicated but the good thing is that the staff knows what the dishes are. I would surely give much better rating to this place.

  • R Gatha

    I like Mantra. I like the decor, I like the service and I like the cooking. Yes, all three are quirky and maybe not to all tastes but the team at Mantra should be applauded for attempting something different to the normal curry houses that are present in every town in Britain. Tandoori quail was very good - but I have to question the decision to serve it with chips (masala or not, they were chips). The salmon was cooked very well and was a generous portion - spiced perfectly. I agree it is an odd decision to offer biryani for 2-4 people only, but it was very good value, and a cut above the biryanis elsewhere (though a little too much saffron was used for my taste). The cocktails and mocktails are fun and the dessert choice is better than most other Indian restaurants. I would recommend this place to anyone who wants Indian food which is a little different to the norm.