London Indian for a diverse group - also meal in Highgate
We will be in London for just a couple of days, the first time in many years. Weve been in Italy for a couple weeks and have let our London Food planning slide.
Among other things Id like to take our hosts to dinner - she likes Indian but she's mainly a tandoori chicken eater,- we tend to go more for goat, fish, and most importantly vegetables . Can you recommend a nice place, maybe with a buffet (this will be a weekend) that will satisfy her but give us a dynamite meal?
Also wondering if there is anything recommendable in Highgate?
thanks in advance
thanks for all the responses. In the end, we opted to eat close to home with our friends and didnt get an indian meal at all.
What we had -
dinner at their local fave, The Bull in Highgate http://thebullhighgate.co.uk/
which we found quite enjoyable. My pork belly with cider sauce and a poached pear was nicely cooked and the others enjoyed their dishes as well. Its interesting how one memory fades under the influence of conviviality and booze. Quite a selection of beers bottled and draft.
Desserts included a lemon posset, enjoyed by friends, and an orange polenta cake, which struck me as a combo of a standard vanilla cake mix (predominant flavor) gussied up to resemble an Ottolenghi or Nigella orange cake. It didint make it.
Next day lunch at a simple pub near Paddington after striking out at the Malaysian Canteen (husband refused to try to enter, given the Malaysians only sign), and at Tukdin (closed), then at a couple of tasty looking middle easter places that were full. Then Dinner, at Gem in Islaington.
I thought this was quite good Turkish, certainly a good value, and friendly welcome, We had a combo cold meze plate, a mixed grill plate, and a grilled fish for the three of us. A dessert, a stuffed bread and very good bread were also provided, dishes had good spicing (interesting) and were well cooked. Without knowing how good the best London Turkish is, I would recommend,giving Gem a try. Certainly this was better than our Brooklyn options.
On our last full day, I was trammeled by not having a smartphone or good notes in finding a lunch place in Central London. We headed to Chinatown and settled on Rasa Sayang, which was quite good but Id say a standard level (since I picked middling dishes like char kuay teo and nasi lemak, maybe I have only myself to blame - our third dish long beans with dried shrimp and sambal, as well as our neighbors' dishes looked more interesting.
On our way home for a dinner our hosts were cooking we stopped at Ottolenghi in Islington to pick up vegetable and desserts and were not disappointed. Apart from the thrill of eating this food in situ (after cooking a lot of it at home) some of the dishes just shone, notably the mograbieh with red onion and almond (I think from the new cookbook), an aubergine dish, green beans, and the grilled zucchini with grilled cheese and lemon, and for the desserts, an amazing cheesecake with caramelized macadamia nuts on top. Price was highly reasonable, aruond 9 pounds for a large container of veg, more than enough for the 4 of us. Thank you London!
They don't serve buffet food (I think buffets can sometimes be a bit dodgy, so tend to steer clear), but serve up a pretty wide range of interesting, Indian street-food. Both have fairly casual settings, reasonably small portions - so you can order a bunch of dishes and share them out.
Personally, i'm not a fan of Dishoom's service, but the food is good. I really like the Vada Pau - it's a potato patty in a burger. The carb-on-carb combination sounds strange, but so tasty!
Prefer Roti Chai's service (although they are strict about not allowing food from the upstair's menu to be brought downstairs and vice versa). Much prefer the upstairs 'Street Kitchen' compared to the Dining Room. The most interesting dish for me was the Hakka Chilli Paneer - it's yummy, and i haven't seen it anywhere else. Wish they had more paneer in it though.
Both places don't allow reservations, although Roti Chai allows reservations for parties of >6 in the Street Kitchen, and you can reserve in the Dining Room.
i'd second brokentelephones recommendation for the brasserie. i was just there last weekend and it was delicious, esp the vegetable section. nice starters of bhel, pani puri too and overthe top desi sweet desserts. very reasonably priced as well. i honestly don't know a better value in london.
In Highgate, you can eat very well at The Red Lion & Sun or The Bull & Last - both are popular gastropubs. The former is better value with friendlier staff.
For Indian, Roti Chai never lets me down. It's just behind Selfridges on Oxford St. Street food style Indian food on the ground floor and refined but nicely spiced curries and grills in the smarter downstairs dining room. It feels special enough for a 'treat your host' meal. Places like Tayyabs / Needoo that focus on the grills are quite casual and smoky so it depends how you feel about that.