Us Brits love a good curry. Thankfully, we’re spoilt for choice here in London: the Indian food scene is thriving, with a wide mixture of Michelin-starred eateries and casual dining spots to choose from. Here’s our pick of the best…
London’s fine dining Indian scene is better than ever thanks to the arrival of restaurants like Gymkhana. A year after opening it was awarded with a Michelin star, and if you go there you’ll quickly see why. An elegant dining room from the team behind Trishna and Hoppers, the restaurant is inspired by Indian gymkhana clubs, where high society types meet to dine, drink and socialise. Most importantly, the food really is top notch, with a focus on bold, intense flavours: highlights include paneer tikka with cashew nut and corn chaat, Bengali mustard salmon and guinea fowl with Benne dosa.
Situated in the heart of Belgravia, Amaya is one of London’s most glamorous Indian restaurants, attracting smart crowds day in day out. Widely spaced, polished wood tables and low lighting make for sleek surroundings, made even better by impeccable service. A restaurant that’s hold onto their Michelin star for over a decade is a promising sign, and luckily Amaya doesn’t disappoint. Unconventional for a fine dining restaurant, dishes are served tapas-style and designed to be shared. Though the menu is seasonal and changes often, it features a mixture of sophisticated meat, fish and vegetarian dishes, such as smoked chilli lamb chops, grilled duck breast, char-grilled aubergine, beetroot chop and griddled sweet potato with tamarind and yoghurt.
Since the first café opened in Covent Garden back in 2010, four more London branches of Dishoom have opened – yet somehow all of them still draw in big queues. All branches have a similar vibe, with interiors inspired by Bombay brasseries, with retro design features, low-level lighting and vintage magazines covering the walls. Everything is delicious, but there are some things you’ve got to try, such as their famous House Black Daal, the okra fries and the lamb biriyani. Well worth the wait.
Inconspicuously sitting amongst couture shops and corporate buildings, Lucknow 49 provides a more laissez-faire approach to dining than the average business lunch you typically find in Mayfair. The vibrant, patterned decor is a colourful backdrop to an equally colourful menu of Awadhi cuisine. The menu is select and difficult to choose from, but you can’t really go wrong with ordering a few starters, a couple of curries, a biryani and multiple servings of their Gilafi Kulcha (deliciously buttery layered bread cooked in the tandoor). The Murgh Qorma and Awadhi Goat Biryani are crowd-pleasers, as are the restaurant’s signature Gosht Seekh Kawab… If you like lamb, you’re in luck(now) because this Mayfair restaurant does it especially well, spiced and cooked to perfection. Pair with a refreshing signature cocktail – we’re partial to the pink pepper gin sour with fresh cucumber and elderflower – and your table is set.
The newest London branch in Vivek Singh’s empire, Cinnamon Kitchen Battersea is a laid-back alternative to its fine dining sibling, The Cinnamon Club. Found within up-and-coming Battersea Power Station, it has more of an edgy vibe than the others, set in an exposed brick arch with a metal cage structure in the middle. Like Vivek’s other restaurants, the restaurant specialises in modern Indian cuisine, but here street food dishes take centre stage. The Bombay platter makes a great starter, featuring a vada pa (a fried potato cake in a bun), chilli-coated paneer, and a tapioca cake. Vegetarian offerings are particularly good at Cinnamon Kitchen – we highly recommend the kale and quinoa kofta, and the spiced chickpea gnocchi is delicious.
A new addition to London’s Indian food scene, Kahani is an unassuming, sophisticated spot hidden away behind Chelsea’s Cadogan Hall. It’s headed up by Peter Joseph, previously at Tamarind – the first Indian restaurant in the world to earn a Michelin star – who describes the food as ‘lighter, modern Indian food.’ Grill is the prime focus here, with a mixture of meat, seafood, game and vegetable dishes cooked either on a robata grill or a tandoor. Go hungry, and however full you are you must order the melting chilli chocolate dome pudding.
Kricket has come a long way since its humble beginnings. It was born in a 20-seat shipping container in Pop Brixton, but after gaining legions of fans opened its first bricks-and-mortar restaurant in Soho two years later. Founders Will Bowlby and Rik Campbell have since opened two more branches, one back in Brixton, and the newest in White City’s Television Centre. The menu is all about small sharing plates, and although it changes regularly there are some staples, like the samphire pakoras and the Keralan fried chicken. Their Indian-inspired cocktails are also very popular, particularly the Moondate, made with ginger vodka, date marmalade and date & cinnamon syrup.
The original Indian Accent in New Delhi is widely regarded as one of the best restaurants in the world, so the excitement surrounding its London opening last year is no surprise. It’s right at home on Mayfair’s Albermarle Street, a culinary hub filled with top-end restaurants like Gymkhana and Isabel. With its plush interiors, Indian Accent is equally decadent – with a menu to match. Dishes are flavoursome and creative, such as applewood smoked bacon kulcha bread, ghee roast lamb with roti pancakes, and beetroot chops with peanut butter and goat cheese raita. If you fancy a bit of indulgence, their seven-course tasting menus are particularly impressive, with separate vegan and gluten free menus available.