Credit: Chutney Mary
As unlikely as it seems, London has long been one of the world’s curry capitals. It was at this British capital where Tamarind became the first-ever Indian restaurant to receive a Michelin star. Moreover, no other culinary import is as ubiquitous as curry in British food culture. If you fancy a London Indian restaurant involving tasting menus, rather than take-out, here are a few of the city’s many top-rated restaurants sure to spice up your fine dining experience.
This is the restaurant that started it all for the venerable MW Group, a conglomerate that has been a London leader in upscale Indian fare for over 25 years. As of 2015, Chutney Mary is located in the devastatingly luxurious St. James, and with a recent opulent head-to-toe makeover done so with globally-sourced materials, it certainly looks the part. The dishes here are pan-Indian with contemporary twists, such as the flaked Cornish crab in garlic butter and lobster chili fry. You’d be hard-pressed not to smile at Chutney Mary’s innovative dishes like the deboned chicken wing cubes with kokum and star anise glaze.
Hot Dishes: Eating the tokri chaat appetizer — a crispy straw potato bowl loaded with potatoes, chickpeas, yogurt and other goodies — is both messy and delicious, while the dainty trio of marinated, tender lamb chops is Hall of Fame-worthy.
Insider’s Tip: If you have time, do check out the sexy Pukka Bar in the venue’s anterior. Enjoy the ambiance as you prop your cocktail atop its bar counter made of leather and carved stone paneling.
In 2015 the longstanding Chutney Mary moved on from its Chelsea location to the central St. James neighborhood, giving way for the same owners to revamp the space as Masala Grill, which touts “informal, affordable fine dining.” Affordable? Yes, certainly more affordable than Chutney Mary, but this is still the type of place you’d want to wear your posh garments. The décor is vibrant, rich, and eclectic throughout. If you can, try to snag a seat in the conservatory section with exuberant red ribbons descending from the glass ceiling. All in all, the tasty street foods, grills, and curries make for a wonderful, and more budget-friendly, successor to Chutney Mary.
Hot Dishes: The pani puri starter, involving a small beaker of diluted green chutney and stuffed shells of chickpeas, potato and tamarind, is a fun and zesty treat. The sensational Malabar prawn curry main is one of the most moreish Indian dishes in London.
Insider Tip: Masala Grill does a lunch buffet spread for £26 every Sunday, with bottomless servings of kebabs, curries, tikka, and other goodies.
An extension of Taj Hotel’s St. James Court, Quilon’s one Michelin star has shined since 2008 thanks to gourmet interpretations of Southwest Indian coastal cuisine. Servers in traditional white and gold uniforms serve seafood and other Indian favorites in a slick, modern dining room. While not particularly known to be a staple in the Goa and Kerala region, Chef Sriram’s baked black cod, reminiscent of Nobu’s iconic miso black cod, remains a diner favorite.
Hot Dishes: Paratha is an alternative to roti and naan for sopping up your saucy entrees; furthermore, Quilon’s chewy and crispy version of the bread is the perfect accompaniment to your meal.
Insider’s Tip: If you hear a bell ringing while eating, don’t be alarmed: Quilon’s one of the few restaurants in London with a Division Bell, which alerts Parliament members to important voting matters at the House of Commons.
The Cinnamon Club has to be one of the finest library — turned — dining spaces in the world. Indeed, the restaurateurs revamped the former Westminster Library some 15 years ago into a high-end Indian restaurant. In addition, The Cinnamon Club remains the preferred haunt of UK politicians, as it’s a short stroll from the Houses of Parliament. In 2015, the restaurant completed an extra $1.5 million makeover, paying further homage to the building’s Grade II-listed history. Executive Chef Vivek Singh provides fabulous modern interpretations of Indian cuisine, which includes Smoked Herdwick lamb escalope with galouti kebab mille feuille and Norfolk chicken breast with garlic naan crumble in a refined, high-ceilinged dining room.
Hot Dishes: Give Indian-style game a try with their lovely tandoori loin of Oisin red deer with black stone flower reduction and fenugreek potatoes.
Insider’s Tip: 2016 marks Cinnamon Club’s 15th Anniversary; check out the special events and limited edition tasting menus with vintage and premium spirits they’ll be offering throughout the year.