London Larder was devised in 2012 to bring you the ultimate eating and drinking guide to London. It was borne out of a need for up-to-date, quantitative and whole-heartedly recommended places to eat and drink.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Chutney Mary


Innovative and experimental restaurants are more popular than ever, from Ian Pengelley's Gilgamesh and their take on Asian fusion food, to Arbutus in Soho with their inspired modern European menu. However, Indian food has never had a reputation for creativity, with an image stuck in very traditional curries. One place leading the way in innovation though is Chelsea's Chutney Mary which combines the best of traditional Indian cooking with modern influences to create gourmet masterpieces.

Having won the 'Best in the UK' award at the inaugural Good Curry awards, one of only six restaurants to be awarded this honour and the only restaurant to have won twice, expectations were very high. Chutney Mary is not to be confused with your average neighbourhood curry house, this is high-level fine dining so don't expect to find a standard chicken balti on the menu here, but you will see ingredients and flavours not usually associated with Indian cuisine.

A large, spacious restaurant on the King's Road, most tables were empty when we arrived for our midweek visit, but quickly filled up with almost every single table filled. Our table was in the glass-ceilinged conservatory, surrounded by exotic plants. The atmosphere was lively, with the guests mainly made up of high-flying business dinners and smart, well-dressed couples. Our meal kicked off with three small plates to start; Jaipur lamb tikka kebab, marinated in spices, chilli and mint and served with yoghurt chutney, soft, yielding meat with a fiery kick; seared scallop moilee served with a watercress and ginger mousse and coconut sauce; and pan-seared duck liver foie gras served with a reduced cherry brandy sauce: a very unusual dish for an Indian restaurant where the silky smooth foie gras was complemented beautifully with the papaya and pepper glaze.

For the main, the quality of the starters inspired us to try as wide a variety of dishes as possible, so we ordered two main dishes and three vegetarian side dishes with rice and bread. The most eye catching dish was the Calcutta style prawn curry with coconut, chilli, cucumber and onion. The giant prawns, served with the tail on, stood to attention in the rich, creamy sauce. Delicately spiced, the flavour of the prawns was allowed to develop rather than being masked by an aggressively spiced sauce. Alongside the fragrant lemony pilau rice, this was the most authentic and traditional element to the meal. The Rajasthani aloo was equally delicious, with slices of potato fried until crispy and served in a smoky tomato sauce.

''Best in the UK' award at the inaugural Good Curry awards'

The side dishes were also allowed to shine and really displayed the chef's creativity. The Purple Cloud, a dish of aubergine topped with salsa and yoghurt would have made an exceptional main course on its own and a first class dish in its own right. Another exceptionally good vegetarian dish was the dal makhani, a spicy black lentil soup which was ideal to mop up in our garlic naan and roti flatbread. The flavours here worked well with the refreshing coolness of the watercress raitha, made all the more delicious with a topping of sweet pomegranate jewels. However, the main attraction and the one dish you simply must order is the masala duck; a whole breast smoked with apricot, served over pak choi and crispy shredded potato. Juicy and zesty, the sweet, fruity flavours brought the meat to life.

Most Indian restaurants do not offer much by way of dessert, but Chutney Mary is not your average restaurant. We sampled four of the most popular sweets; a sugary sweet pear tatin with black pepper and ginger ice cream, classic bread and butter pudding with a hidden chocolate layer; refreshing tangerine pannacotta and rich, dark chocolate and cinnamon fondants with oozing liquid centres. Throughout our meal, every element was faultless. The imagination and creativity in the dishes were matched by the diligence and attention of the polite and knowledgeable staff.

Chutney Mary is head and shoulders above any other Indian restaurant we have tried, flawless service and exquisite food. It's not cheap, but still feels like great value considering the quality, and we certainly urge you to give it a try, perhaps for a romantic anniversary or birthday meal. Eating here is a real treat, and we raise a glass to this wonderful South-West London institution
535 Kings Road, SW10 0SZ
Average price for main meal: £20
Average price for side dish: £10
Average price for glass of wine: £6.50
Food/drink: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Value: 4/5

No comments:

Post a Comment