Time was when the only decent food one could get in London was Indian. Everything else was overcooked and drowned in gravy. The quality of food in the capital has changed dramatically and Indian restaurants have evolved from dishing out cheap student fare, to serving Michelin quality cuisine. Our favourites of the moment:
Halkin Arcade, Motcomb Street, Belgravia, London SW1X 8JT
This is Indian nouvelle cuisine – don’t come here looking for chicken tikka masala. Amaya richly deserves its Michelin Star. The menu is split into three cooking styles: Tandoor, Sigri and Tawa (Tandoori, char-grilling, iron-skillet respectively). The potions are tapas sized to encourage mixing and matching. It is rather unfortunately located in a strip mall next to a grocery store but inside it’s dark, bling and nightclubby. Expensive and worth it.
72-76 Western Road, Southall, Middlesex UB2 5DZ
Pop by next time you are near Heathrow airport. The name might be cheesy as is the decor, but this is authentic North Indian Punjabi food, with some Kenyan influences thrown in. Fish pakoras, jheera chicken and any prawn dish comes highly recommended. The home made pickles are special. Family run and authentic this unpretentious restaurant with dodgy parking options counts Gordon Ramsay and the Prince of Wales amongst its fans. Worth the trip.
The Old Westminster Library, 30-32 Great Smith St, Westminster, London SW1P 3BU
A book lined restaurant housed in the former Westminster Library, Cinnamon Club serves grand and regal interpretations of pan Indian cuisine. Located a stone’s throw from the houses of Parliament the restaurant is usually full of Britain’s power brokers. Bells ring at regular intervals to remind ministers to rush back for important votes. Similar bells are know to be installed in the nearby apartments of attractive parliamentary researchers. It’s a bit staid and formal compared to the other restaurants on this list, but deserves a visit.
12 Upper St. Martinâs Lane, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9FB and 7 Boundary Street, Shoreditch, London E2 7JE
Dishoom is a sanitised interpretation of a classic working man’s cafe in Bombay, sans the flies and the inevitable rumbly tummy. The dishes here are modern interpretations of Indian street food served in tapas sized portions. There’s a sense of fun and a zing about the dishes – breakfast bacon naan anyone? They don’t take reservations so I often find myself bringing people here when we haven’t bothered to book dinner anywhere. We’ve never come away without being delighted .
15 -17 Blandford Street, Marylebone Village, London W1U 3DG and 42 Albemarle Street, Mayfair, London W1S 4JH
Karam Sethi’s original restaurant (Gymkhana is his latest) in London now has a Michelin Star. Trishna is also the sister restaurant to its namesake in India – one of the best loved seafood restaurants in Mumbai. Bombay friends make a beeline to Trishna for an authentic taste of India’s South Western coastal cuisine. The Andhra Lamb curry with coastal spices and coconut had me urgently reaching for beer to put out the fire – and then helping myself to seconds. The rooms are awkward – one feels like a corridor and the other like the back room of a bachelor pad. Service can meander a bit. The food is excellent however and the lunch specials are excellent value.
Gymkhana (reviewed here) is at once traditional and inventive. Good cocktails, great food served in clubby, British Raj styled rooms. Our current favourite.