Moti Mahal confirmed
I went for dinner last night with the parents, who are visiting for the Easter weekend. I was charged with finding a good Indian restaurant for dinner, and based on my one previous experience here and Chow recommendations I took them to Moti Mahal. The place did not disappoint.
The food: I am going to fall short of limstereque poetry and precision here, but it was good. They started us with a shot of tomato mulligatawny soup topped with a mini-naan and a dolop of chutney, an auspicious start. We shared two appetizers, a medley of mushrooms topped with disk of paneer and a reinterpretation of the aloo papdi chaat; the latter was especially good. For the mains, we shared three vegetables, a sukhi bhaji (dry vegetable, not "curry style") of okra, mushroom, and other vegetables (good), a kofta, and a paneer dish. The latter were rich "curry-style" vegetables. At a lesser place they would have been too similar, but to MM's credit each had a distinct flavor and they were satisfying together. The kofta was in a slightly richer sauce, the paneer in a slight more tomato-based sauce with some greens mixed in (not coriander, not sure what it was). We had a mint paratha (excellent), and 3 naans (good, not ethereal). Based on this evidence, I would suggest asking for a plain paratha rather than naan, or try both. Overall this was very satisfying. I felt I had eaten well, did not feel a lead weight in my stomach, and felt that the richness was deployed as needed (no floating pools of oil here).
The dessert was a carrot halwa which was not bad. Desserts here are clearly conceived to be the kind of exciting combinations of things you expect at a good restaurant rather than the tired classics offered at most places (this is not a condemnation of the classics, but if I have another oily gulab jamun I am going to scream -- well made they are ethereal). So halwa came with an ice cream in a pastry shell and a biscotto. Not blown away, but not bad at all.
Without prompting they brought us warm towels to cleanse our hands, which for an Indian restaurant I believe is essential, since Indian food is meant to be eaten by hand (indeed singular, not hands! that would always get a rap on the knuckles at the dinner table).
Finally they brought a few chocolates with the bill, a gracious touch.
The bill: without wine came to 63 pounds including service, which I think is truly a bargain.
Random impressions: a schizophrenic music selection -- techno, India sitar, then jazz...
Final thoughts: Though I wouldn't unload the word great on this place, I would certainly say it's good and not hesitate to send others here or to go back myself. They are not doing entirely traditional recipes; they are trying to innovate but keep in sight of tradition. Innovation is intrinsically neither good nor bad as long as you do it well, and they do.
Thanks for the nice report BB. I think that mine is a bit of a dissenting voice where MM is concerned, it didn't really do it for me and funnily enough I had my folks in tow on the one occasion I went there. But enough people enthuse about the place for me to consider visiting again, as a favourite Manhattan hound of mine says, you've really got to visit a place 2-3 times before you can formulate a properly informed opinion, she's got more patience than I have I think.
So where else will you be taking the parents? Perhaps we can start a post entitled something like "London restaurants favoured by older generation Desis" :-)
You're right, there's always variability. One dinner and one lunch isn't enough to nail it. Someone will have to sacrifice themselves a few more times!
We might need a thread on where to take to the Desi folks! Afternoon tea is a must, I was told, but I couldn't bring myself to go to the Ritz and Wolseley was fully booked, so we're trying the Langham. Will report back!
Thanks for this BB.
Mrs H doesnt know Asian food but has been raving about this place since she ate there with business associates a couple of months back. She insists that we must go there on our next trip "down south" as she reckons I will love it (I also don't know Asian food).
Reassuring to see it getting good reports from folk who do know their Asian food.