Top six: London’s best Indian restaurants
More than 200 years have now passed since Britain’s first curry house opened in London (the Hindoostane Coffee House) and our love of spicy food has only grown. But while it used to be that curry establishments were housed in tacky, rundown buildings, serving tasteless and forgetful dishes and flat Kingfisher lager, Indian dining in Britain, especially the English capital, has gone up a notch or two. A number now even hold coveted Michelin stars.
Here, we reveal the six best Indian restaurants in London, and between them they hold a total of three Michelin stars. You could say Indian cuisine is now firmly on the fine dining map.
Tamarind of Mayfair
Tamarind of Mayfair was the first Indian restaurant in the world to be awarded with a coveted Michelin star in 2001, an accolade the restaurant proudly holds to this day, making it one of just six Indian restaurants to do so.
Tamarind’s dishes are derived from traditional Moghul cuisine where fish, meat and game are cooked in the authentic tandoor oven style of North West India. At Tamarind of Mayfair food philosophy is driven by a desire to present the eclectic and expansive Indian repertoire, bursting with flavour and originality, as a multi-sensory dining experience.
The eatery is situated in an elegant, gold-accented dining room in Mayfair – London’s most luxurious and glamorous district, bordered by Hyde Park and Regent Street. It is favoured by a high profile clientele and is known for its consistent quality and originality.
A tasting menu, Taste of Tamarind, runs along side the À la carte menu and serves as a multi-sensory dining experience and a gastronomic exploration of Northern Indian cuisine. The gourmet journey commences with an appetiser of fragrant channa chaat (a traditional dish made with white chickpeas), followed by a starter of grilled scallop with smoked peppers and tomato chutney, then Tandoor grilled baby chicken breast, puréed tomato with fenugreek leaves. A Tamarind and date sorbet is served as a palette cleanser between courses, before a main dish of Elliot farm lamb chops with raw papaya, fennel and star anise is served. Accompaniments of spiced spinach, vegetable dal makhni, pulao rice and warm, toasted naan are served alongside the main course. Petit fours of carrot fudge and pistachio kulfi offer a touch of sweetness to balance and finish the feast.
Address: 20 Queen St, London W1J 5PR / 020 7629 3561
Chutney Mary is an innovative, cool Indian restaurant in St James with 25 years heritage. Recently relocated from the Kings Road to St James, in amongst the gentlemen’s clubs, the restaurant offers a fantastic selection of menu options guaranteed to change your view of Indian cuisine forever. From Afternoon Tea incorporating cucumber and herb chutney fingers sandwiches, venison samosas and nimbu tart with a choice of teas to a full blow Indian feast with Straw Potato Baskets with street food, and Duck Jardaloo with apricot, chill and jaggery the offering is extensive.
The Pukka Bar is a perfect place to meet friends after work and serves exceptional cocktails using fresh, exotic and seasonal ingredients such as Rangpur Gimlet, Mago Mojito and Watermelon Cosmopolitan.
This glamorous venue is ideal for business meetings in one of the beautifully decorated private event rooms, a family gathering or somewhere to deliver that all important proposal in their intimate two person dining area. The innovative thinking and cool contemporary décor make Chutney Mary the ‘go to’ Indian venue.
Address: 73 St James’s St, London SW1A 1PH / 020 7629 6688
Sister restaurant to the Michelin-starred Tamarind of Mayfair, Zaika has a menu that is rich in Awadhi cuisine from Lucknow, Northern India.
The restaurant space, a former banking hall, retains original architectural features such as wood-panelled walls, high carved vaulted ceilings and double-height windows offering views over Kensington Palace Gardens. Banquet and booth seating is upholstered with taupe leather and over 150 pieces of artwork adorn the walls of Zaika. Chandeliers create atmospheric focal points in the main dining area.
The menu features appetizers such as Papdi Chaat (spiced chickpeas, wheat crisps, yoghurt, blueberries, tamarind chutney) and Jhinga Dakshini (Tiger prawns in a gram flour batter, ginger, paprika, curry leaves). Dishes from the Tandoor and grill include Ajwaini Macchi (monkfish chunks marinated with ginger, yoghurt, ajwain and turmeric). The signature main dish is Grilled Lobster (Lobster tail with turmeric, garlic and raw mango with spiced tomato sauce). In addition to the a la carte menu, notable side dishes and accompaniments include Truffle naan, fig and mint-stuffed naan, Shahi Paneer (paneer with melon seed, onion, dried fenugreek leaf sauce), and Khumb kofta (mixed mushroom dumplings).
The drinks list at Zaika includes a wine collection designed to complement the bold flavours, spices and aromatics of Indian cuisine. A selection of Indian beers and innovative signature cocktails are also available. A designated bar area, seating 12, accommodates drinkers, and a bar menu of Indian snacks.
Address: 1 Kensington High Street, London, W8 5NP / 020 7795 6533
Gymkhana, Karam Sethi’s critically-acclaimed restaurant, inspired by the British Indian gymkhana clubs, was awarded a coveted Michelin Star in 2014, only one year after it had opened. The restaurant serves classic and contemporary Indian cuisine, with a strong focus on chatpatta and boldly spiced sharing dishes.
The interior design of Gymkhana references the clubs of India with ceiling fans that hang from a dark-lacquered slatted oak ceiling, cut glass wall lamps from Jaipur, hunting trophies from the Maharaja of Jodhpur and Grandmother Sethi’s barometer. Reminiscent of the gymkhana clubs, the dining room is flanked by turned cane detailed oak booths marble tables and ox blood leather banquettes.
Brass edged tables and classic rattan chairs punctuate the dining space, which is embellished with Punch sketches and Indian sports prints. A large marble bar stands before an antique leaded mirror work, providing a backdrop to the room.
Gymkhana is only the fifth restaurant to be awarded 5/5 by Fay Maschler in the Evening Standard, the first ever restaurant to be awarded 10/10 for food by Giles Coren in The Times Magazine, and was in June 2015 voted the UK’s number one restaurant in the National Restaurant Awards.
Address: 42 Albemarle St, London W1S 4JH / 020 3011 5900
Gaylord Restaurant is considered one of the oldest Indian restaurants in London, situated in the heart of Fitzrovia on Mortimer Street. Gaylord Restaurant prides itself on serving the finest Northern Indian cuisine and over the years it has been a top destination for celebrity clients including George Harrison & Ringo Starr, Peter Sellers, Rex Harrison, Faye Dunaway and Ben Elton.
The first ever Tandoor charcoal clay oven was lit in Gaylord’s kitchen and because the owners were so concerned that it should arrive safely when flown from India, it was given its own seatbelt on the aircraft! The same oven is still used today, 50 years on, as Gaylord stays true to their philosophy ‘Tradition is always in’, embracing Western elegance and innovative presentation whilst celebrating India’s best culinary classics, effortlessly combining old and new.
This year, Gaylord Restaurant celebrates 50 years as the benchmark in Indian food in the Capital and is delighted to still be welcoming a new generation of fans. Gaylord Restaurant is part of Kwality Group, which was co-founded by P.L. Lamba and is now headed up by Sunil, Dhruv and Divij Lamba, who have taken the company from strength to strength.
Address: 79-81 Mortimer St, London W1W 7SJ
Located in the heart of London’s Marylebone Village, Trishna specialises in coastal Indian cuisine. The restaurant was awarded a coveted Michelin star in 2012, an accolade it still holds today.
The informal and sociable neighbourhood dining atmosphere offers seating for up to 80 guests and is available for lunch, dinner, private dining, or exclusive hire. Trishna’s doors also open onto the street, creating a semi-alfresco ambience throughout the restaurant.
The menus at Trishna combine both traditional and evolved coastal Indian cuisine. Simple presentation, bold flavour, an abundance of choice and seasonality define the style of the food at Trishna.
Offering an extensive selection of wine, including fine wine and champagne, Trishna’s unique cuisine calls for wine of equal character. Inspired pairings are offered with the menus as well as truly diverse wine choices from niche producers and boutique wineries all over the world.
For those who argue that Indian food calls for a nice cold beer, a specialist selection of Indian beers compliments any dish on the restaurant’s impressive menu.
This really is Indian dining at its very best.
Address: 15-17 Blandford St, London W1U 3DG
Enjoy the perfect Indian dish in the comfort of your own home
If you’d prefer a cozy night of fine dining Indian style at home, try RawSpiceBar’s freshly ground Indian spices. The spice blends, like vadouvan and garam masala, are top notch, plus they have plenty of recipe ideas as well.