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Jan 1, 2012 02:06 PM

Foody London Visit

Did't want to book all of our lunches & dinners during our trip 3-5th of Feb but after reading the board I got exited :-)

I am debating one choice though and am looking for some advice...My girlfriend loved the dishes that Athul Kochhar was preparing in different Great British Menu series (kitchen: modern Indian food, not sure what it is called).

Therefore I have a reservation at Benares but I am reading some mixed reviews... What's the chow hound verdict on Benares? Is there anything similar in London that is better? I really like the idea of having great Indian food while we are there because we don't get that around here (Netherlands) a lot...

BTW - Other reservations are at Bocca di Lupo (great tip from CH!) and the Bull and Last (love this find on CH and can't wait to eat there for Sunday lunch!)

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  1. Great Indian food for me = Moti Mahal.

    But it's "classic" rather than "modern".

    21 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      I will keep it in mind! Have you visited Benares as well? Just want to get some chow-taster feedback on it :-)

      1. re: koudman

        Nope, can't comment on Benares. Indian isnt really something I'm looking for when I visit the capital, but Moti Mahal was somewhere we particularly wanted to try.

        1. re: Harters

          Am a fan of Moti Mahal too..but then i haven't been to Benares...

        2. re: koudman

          I have not been to Benares but I have met Atul and ate at Tamarind - he is a modern rather than traditional chef... If that is what you are looking for and don't want to pay Amaya prices, then either Benares or Trishna would be worth a look.

          1. re: koudman

            I ate at Benares. It was venjoyable but really nothing to write home about. I enjoyed my meal at the Cinnamon Club far more (and it is a stunning venue).

            At Benares the meats were incredible, I had chicken and then lamb and the spicing and flavouring of the meats was just so delicate and brilliant.

            The problem really, was everything else. The mini poppadoms, the rice, the accompaniments etc were all just very average and forgettable. The rice was as if I just put a bowl in the microwave and left it there too long. And bear in mind it is very expensive.

            I don't want to completely dissuade you, but I would recommend the Cinnamon Club and Moti Mahal over Benares and that's before we get into the non-fine-dining indian/pakistani restaurants.

            1. re: ManInTransit

              I also liked the Cinnamon Club and recently ate at Moti Mohal (NYE), I quite liked it and thought it is definitely a contender for a good well priced option in central London. However, my favourite is still Veeraswarmy which is very rarely mentioned. Too old fashioned?

              1. re: PhilD

                I've never been Phil, what sort of India food is it - I'm guessing not with a modern twist?

                1. re: ManInTransit

                  No not that modern (but my most recent modern was at Monsoon in Delhi which is almost molecular and was very interesting), but equally nothing like "high street" it is high quality in a similar vein to Moti Mohal.

                  As frog says it is part of a group which includes Chutney Mary which should be credited with really upping the stakes in the early '90's with good regional indian food (not been back since '94). Anyone been more recently?

                2. re: PhilD

                  When I was a lad, my much older cousin used to come to London on business from time to time and would always recount his experiences at Veeraswarmy. The place and the food sounded so exotic to me. Of course, in the mid 1960s, it was exotic and David was the only person I knew who had eaten Indian food. I vowed that, one day, I'd eat there. Still havn't.

                  Truth be told though - he'd also recount his travel to London on the Manchester Pullman and the idea of eating a "full English" on a train was even more exciting a prospect than Indian food.

                  1. re: Harters

                    Veeraswamy is now part of the Real Indian Food Group (along with Amaya & Chutney Mary)... consistent, trad Indian cuisine. I have not been there for a few years but I remember the menu being mostly northern cuisine & meat.

                    1. re: Harters

                      Ref" the "full English" I used to do the East coast line and loved eating in the dining car in the late '60's (I was young but still remember it). It is a shame that experience has disappeared or at least for those of us that can't afford the Orient Express.

                  2. re: ManInTransit

                    Out of curiosity, has anyone been to Salloo's in Belgravia? It appears to be the London outpost of an old Lahore establishment - THE fine dining restaurant of the 60s there. It's well past its prime in Lahore, but I was wondering what it's like here, without being inclined to spend the £££ to try it out.

                    1. re: tavegyl

                      I have eaten at Salloo's a few times in the the menu features a lot of meat which I have stopped eating. Very traditional menu, features Moghul cuisine and used to be excellent service as the restaurant was a family-run enterprise. Expensive, rich & complex food and suitable for entertaining business clients from the US.

                      1. re: tavegyl

                        I ate at Salloos a couple of years ago. The meat (lamb chops and haleem) was good, the veg (chickpeas and okra) competent but nothing special. Overall, I felt it was priced a little above its quality level. My fuller writeup is here:

                      2. re: ManInTransit

                        A few years ago, I wrote here about how I enjoyed the Cinnamon Club and from what I remember was booed down. It's nice to see that you and Phil agree with me that it's a lovely place with unusual and enjoyable food. I don't think I've been in any other London restaurant that was such a dramatic room.

                        1. re: zuriga1

                          It was probably me doing the booing! Not really, I loved the room, absolutely beautiful and handy for sightseeing around Westminster. Significantly better than any other posh Indian I have eaten at in London. Expensive though.

                          The thing I find is that despite spending a ridiculous proportion of my money on eating out I can never quite escape the cultural resistance of eating fine dining Indian when I can get a wonderful meal for £30 at the Delhi Grill!

                          1. re: ManInTransit

                            One nice thing about the Cinnamon Club (I don't know if it's still true) is that they usually have a special deal for a 3 course dinner at a fairly low price. I think we used that long ago after finding it on One place no one has mentioned is the Bombay Brasserie - famed for its weekend brunches.

                        2. re: ManInTransit

                          After reading the reviews and the other mentions for the Cinnamon Club I decided to book there in stead... Want to try modern Indian and will be back for traditional Indian some other day :-)

                          1. re: koudman

                            Well now I feel under pressure...

                            Do report back on your thoughts, depending on when you go there will likely be various politicians being lunched by TV journalists. The bar is lovely for a quick drink beforehand and do check out the deals as suggested by Zuriga.

                            It's also very handy for central sightseeing so depending on your itinerary you can have a lovely wander nearby before or after dinner.

                            1. re: ManInTransit

                              No worries - I have read enough to assume that it will be good. I will report back sometime after next week Saturday because then we will be there :)

                              1. re: ManInTransit

                                No worries ManInTransit - The Cinnamon Club was great! Haute cuisine indian and in a nice setting as well :)

                                For a bigger review -

                                The Cinnamon Club
                                The Old Westminster Library, 30-32 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BU, GB