Lunch for 3 with fancy fruity cocktails: approx £ 90.00
Spent a recent Sunday with Caroline and Martin visiting the Royal Academy of Arts to see an exhibit of the Japanese print maker Kuniyoshi. The exhibit is closed now but I recommend checking his work out if you ever have the chance.
The exhibit was a feast of Samurai warriors in battle with fanciful dragons, women in flowing kimonos and other mythical Japanese images. So naturally I had an unreal craving for Indian food.
I found Veeraswamy on my blackberry and the idea of eating in the oldest Indian restaurant in London sounded kind of neat. I pictured an old fashioned, pickled interior and I was looking forward to it.
The entry way is a tiny corridor with an elevator, all black and shiny. The restaurant is on the second floor and its all modern, flashy and again shiny. Not quite what I expected. Its all a bit much really – I think there are 700 little colored glass lamp thingies hanging from the ceiling and there are rose petals everywhere. I am sure this place is ridiculously expensive in the evening but for Sunday lunch there is a £22.00 3 course set meal.
We ordered some of their specialty cocktails and as these things tend to go, Martin - a bloke – wound up with the girliest, silliest cocktail of the three. Delicious yes – but doing nothing for his macho credibility.
I chose the Bhel puri for my starter. A puri filled with all sorts of goodies – pomegranate seeds, diced potato, chickpeas, sev, onions and delicious fresh cilantro chutney. The presentation was seriously fussy but it was sooooo goooood.
Martin had better luck with his starter than his cocktail in the frilliness department. He opted for a different puri. It was light and slightly crispy. The chickpeas on the side for dipping were great.
For our mains we ordered the Malai Kofta and Paneer with morel mushrooms in a tomato sauce. I’ve never seen morels on an Indian menu. They worked well in the spicy tomato sauce. The malai kofta was excellent.
The food was great but everything else about the experience was a little overwrought. For example our mains were placed over tea lights. I am not sure if I was supposed to believe that a teeny tiny little candle was keeping my food hot. Also if it could be served on a abstractly shaped piece of banana leaf – it was. There were just too many embellishments – everywhere – it threatened to overwhelm the food.
Martin thought that the food was very old fashioned but I think the food was rather nouveau but that the atmosphere was retro – not the kind of retro that the oldest restaurant in London has the right to be – 1990′ s retro. I would not have been at all surprised if my mango sorbet had been served with some kind of silly spun sugar antennae sticking out of it (thankfully it was not).
Overall I enjoyed the meal very much but the dining experience was over the top. I would certainly go here for a special occasion when that was called for, but not for a quiet meal on my own and there are plenty of mellower and less expensive Indian restaurants in London I would want to try before I make it back here.
99 Regent Street
London W1B 4RS