In a nutshell
Indian food gets a stylish makeover in hidden gem tucked away amongst theatreland.
Chef Patron Bhaskar Banerjee oversaw the creation of the new menu. Head Chef Mohammed Naseem Qureshi is in charge of the skilled kitchen team and has 25 years of authentic Indian cooking expertise. Sommelier Debbie Henriques provides inventive wine pairings for each dish.
The menu takes influences from across India; many of the dishes have familiar sounding names such as tandoori or tikka, however the cooking and presentation have been ramped up a level. There’s no playing safe on the ingredients either; goat, rabbit, venison, lamb’s brain and muntjac all feature on the eclectic menu. We tried the five course tasting menu but there is also a good-value lunch and pre- and post-theatre menu.
What’s the room like
No flock wallpaper here. Soft grey upholstery, mirrored surfaces and tiling give the room a cool feel. Walking in off a ridiculously busy hot and sunny Charing Cross road, it feels like a little oasis of calm.
Pre-starters of Corn chaat golgappa were a little marvel. Tiny crisp puri cups filled with a spicy chickpea mix came with a small jug of tamarind chutney. We were instructed to pour in the chutney then immediately snaffle a whole one to avoid any messiness.
From the starters menu the Goat cutlet and yellow peas was like posh comfort food. The cutlet (actually more of a croquette) was meltingly tender goat mixed with onions, spices and potatoes then crumbed and deep-fried. Another winner was the paneer kebab which had been ingeniously stuffed with chickpea masala and sundried tomato before grilling. The Chicken bemisaal was more of a conventional curry, although the fenugreek-scented tomato sauce was more refined than the usual.
The wine pairings offered were one of the best and most surprising elements of the meal. We admitted we’d previously been fond of sticking to ice-cold beer with Indian food so sommelier Debbie suggested some lovely matches. Particular highlights were a light unoaked Garnacha paired with the goat cutlet and a chilled Gruner Veltliner served with the Corn chaat golgappa.
Quietly unassuming from the outside, Lotus is the sort of place you could easily stumble past on your way to a theatre or museum visit but it’s well worth seeking out for the calm atmosphere, spot-on spicing and delicious wine choices.
17 Charing Cross Road
Written by Janine Ratcliffe, June 2016
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