Pali Hill opened in October 2020, named after a neighbourhood in western Mumbai associated with the Bollywood film industry. It is on the site of Gaylord and is now run by an Indian hospitality group called Azure restaurants. Head chef Avinash Shashidhara worked for a decade at The River Café after starting his career at The Oberoi hotel in Bangalore. The décor has a modern feel, with an open kitchen, and there is a separate bar downstairs. The menu had mixed unusual dishes such as like pork spare ribs with a marinade of jaggery, garlic and garlic, along with more familiar dishes like lamb biryani.
The wine list had 43 labels and ranged in price from £29 to £300, with a median price of £55 and an average markup to retail price of a hefty 3.4 times. Sample references were AA Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2020 at £39 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £13, Wellington Blank Bottle Moment of Silence 2020 at £53 compared to its retail price of £18, and Pinot Noir Pegasus Bay 2017 at £87 for a wine that will set you back £34 in the high street. For those with the means, there was Château Lynch-Bages Pauillac 2010 at £250 compared to its retail price of £209, and Krug Brut Grande Cuvée at £300 for a wine whose current market value is £180. There was also a pilsner lager, or you could have a very good mango lassi.
There are sharing plate snacks, along with regular starters, main courses and desserts. Papdi chaat had a base of spiced yoghurt with both red and yellow tomato, crisp sev, mint and tamarind chutney and pomegranate seeds providing freshness. This had excellent balance, with the sweetness of the tamarind and the crunch of the sev (14/20). Crispy khakra is a baked Gujarati snack made from wheat flour that is reminiscent of a popadom, here laced with a pungent mustard and chilli pickle. These could have been a little crisper, but the pickle was quite punchy (13/20). Chicken tikka was tender and generous, served with a rather slimy pickled cucumber with mint and horseradish that did not really add anything (13/20).
Thali comprised coconut broad beans, Gujarati kadhi (chickpea flour fritters on a base of yoghurt), black-eyed beans, saag paneer and a serving of pulao rice along with pickles and popadom. This was a light and enjoyable plate of food, the paneer having plenty of spinach flavour and the black-eyed peas having good texture (13/20). Sea bass was steamed inside a banana leaf and topped with matchstick potato chips, served with raw mango, mint, coriander and lime. The fish was carefully cooked and had excellent flavour, the lime and coriander working very well with the fish (14/20). Tarka dal, made with split chickpeas, had a pleasing smokiness and a touch of spice (13/20). A “flaky flatbread” was really a paratha, and it was a good one, with nice texture that avoided any greasiness (14/20).
Carrot halwa was very good indeed, though the ice cream that came with it could have had more flavour (14/20). I really enjoyed my Alphonso mango cheesecake, which had a good base as well as plenty of very fragrant, ripe mango (14/20). The staff were friendly and keen. The bill came to £75 per person for lots of food including a dessert course as well as beer. Pali Hill is an excellent addition to the London dining scene.