As Mayfair’s Indian eatery Gymkhana is named National Restaurant of the Year in 2014, we investigate the best of Britain’s spice trail…
Gymkhana, 42 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4JH
With Britain’s national dish being, as of 2012, the Chicken Tikka Massala, it comes as little surprise that Mayfair’s Indian eatery, Gymkhana, has won the National Restaurant of the Year award. Brits love a good curry.
Over 200 years have passed since Sake Dean Mahomed opened Britain’s first curry establishment in London (the Hindoostane Coffee House), but our obsession with spice keeps growing. In recent years, the curry market has broadened. In addition to the engrained Sunday night takeaways, more and more people are opting to dine out at ‘posh’ Indian restaurants. Once the jewel of Britain’s crown, it seems India is now firmly the jewel of our culinary crown.
To celebrate its place within the British nation’s foodie tapestry, we decided to take a look at top 20 offerings out there.
Winner of the National Restaurant of the year, Gymkhana is – in the Telegraph’s words – “a stunning addition, not just to the posh-curry fraternity, but to the entire restaurant landscape”. A must-have is the lamb nalli barra with pickled onion, turmeric and ginger, £25.
Indian restaurant Gymkhana wins Restaurant of Year 30 Jun 2014
Location: 42 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4JH
Contact: 020 3011 5900
2) Prithvi Restaurant
Since opening its doors in February 2012, Prithvi has gained a loyal fan base. Both in its food and its decor, the restaurants offers a “sophisticated approach to dining”. A recent customer went as far to state that Prithvi is “the best restaurant in Cheltenham and possibly Gloucestershire”.
Location: 37 Bath Rd, Cheltenham GL53 7HG
Contact: 01242 226229
3) Everest Spice Nepalese and Indian Restaurant
Not much of a sight to behold from the exterior, once inside the long-named Everest Spice Nepalese and Indian Restaurant, you realise what all the fuss is about. Clean, smart and polished, the restaurant is a firm favourite with the Epsom curry crowd. An essential order is the Salmon Tandoori Tikka starter (Cubes of salmon fish marinated in lemon chilly and grilled in Tandoor), £4.75.
Location: The Ebbisham Centre,
3 The Derby Square,
Epsom KT19 8AG
Contact: 01372 727444
4) New Lahore
With its primped leather seats, shiny mahogany tables and enthusiastic staff, New Lahore in Newport is the perfect place to dine out. Not necessarily as ‘posh’ as others on this list, it makes up for it by boasting exceptional flavour and enthusiastic – but not overbearing – service.
Location: 145 Lower Dock St, Newport NP20 1EE
Contact: 01633 265665
5) Shampan at The Spinning Wheel
The pride that the owner of Shampan at the Spinning Wheel, Sufian, takes in his restaurant is clear. A carely crafted menu, including sensational fish dishes, is both delicious and beautifully presented. The restaurant also boasts a lounge – a wonderful place to settle in for a pre-dinner cocktail.
Location: Grays Rd, Westerham, Kent TN16 2HX
Contact: 01959 572622
The classiest Indian in the West End, with a monkfish curry so good you’ll dream of it for days. A favourite of Bill Nighy and Damon Albarn.
Location: 27 Uxbridge St, London W8 7TQ
Contact: 020 7727 8800
7) The Viceroy
Fresh and full of flavour, the menu at Cumbria’s The Viceroy makes for a grand getaway. Known for its “excellent atmosphere whatever night of the week”, the restaurant was awarded Certificate of Excellence 2014 by TripAdvisor.
Location: 57 Rigg St, Carlisle, Cumbria CA2 5TN
Contact: 01228 590909
Presented by twice Michelin starred chef Atul Kochhar, Benares is one of London’s finest restaurants. It has a stylish and state-of-the art interior and the menu is, quite simply, phenomenal. Among the regular clients is Gordon Ramsay, who has always enthused about the marinated lamb chops.
Location: 12a Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London W1J 6BS
Contact: 020 7629 8886
9) The Radhuni
Start with the King Prawn Butterfly and sail straight for the Achari Gosht (Pieces of marinated lamb cooked in a tantalising pickle masala, garnished with whole green chillies and fresh coriander). The food in this Midlothian restaurant is spiced sensation. Great staff and a family friendly atmosphere are also strong selling points.
Location: 93 Clerk St, Loanhead, Midlothian EH20 9RE
Contact: 0131 440 3566
Bristol’s first fine dining Indian restaurant when it opened seven years ago, this cut-above that specialises in authentic, regional-specific dishes was named best curry house in the South West at the British Curry Awards. House specialities include a guinea-fowl chilli stir fry and pista murgh, chicken breast served in a mild cream sauce with ground pistachio. Its takeway tiffin boxes for a fiver are a big draw with local office workers, too.
Location: 51 Welshback, Bristol, Avon BS1 4AN
Contact: 0117 930 0806
11) Chez Mumtaj
A fusion of French and Indian, Chez Mumtaj is a culinary wonder. Dishes are expertly crafted – so beautiful it’s difficult to ruin them with knife and fork, but once you do, well worth it. The spicy Seafood Biryani Dum is a popular choice well worth investing in, (Phukt style steamed fresh mixed seafood Loch Duart salmon, tiger prawn and haddock, rose water sealed in clay pot with puff pastry, roasted cumin & cucumber boondi raitha).
Location: 136-142 London Rd, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL1 1PQ
Contact: 01727 800033
Though it resembles a bland business lounge, the cooking is colourful and cheery, drawing influences from Goa, Portugal and the Med. Not cheap, but there are fantastic lunch deals.
Location: 41 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6AF
Contact: 020 7821 1899
13) Chak 89
A vast banquet hall with uniformed waiters and a relaxed atmosphere, this is perfect for family celebrations. Though the menu is standard, its spicing is a cut-above.
Location: 105 Bond Rd, Mitcham CR4 3HG
Contact: 020 8646 2177
For almost 30 years, this unexpectedly smart dining room in Brockley, a leafy but overlooked pocket of south-east London, has been offering adventurous twists on traditional, regional dishes. Mains that include steamed spice-crusted lamb shoulder with beetroot rice, and pot-roasted mustard rabbit, helped it to be crowned “London’s best Indian” by Zagat (“worth the journey”). The lifesize Indian tiger statue over the entrance is the only nod to curry-palace kitsch.
Location:119 Brockley Rise, London SE23 1JP
Contact: 020 8291 2400
Some say Michelin-starred Trishna is better than Gymkhana, with its innovative twist on south west Indian food. Try the delectable five-course Koliwada tasting menu.
Location: 15-17, Blandford St, Marylebone Village, London W1U 3DG
Contact: 020 7935 5624
Amaya has glamour written all over it. Unadulterated glamour. This is a restaurant for a special occasion and a place to be seen in. It succeeds in all spheres: menu, interior and staff.
Location: Halkin Arcade, Motcomb St, London SW1X 8JT
Contact: 020 7823 1166
17) Haweli Indian Restaurant
Another restaurant awarded TripAdvisor’s certificate of excellence, Haweli Indian Restaurant in Twyford is a great find. Known for its welcoming staff, the restaurant’s Special Balti dishes are just that – special.
Location: 15 Church St, Twyford, Reading RG10 9DN
Contact: 0118 932 0939
Meaning “kitchen” in Hindi, this is located in a 100-year-old Chelsea townhouse, where you have to ring a bell to gain entry. The crab lolly and smoke cloud-herbed lamb are unforgettable.
Location: 10 Lincoln St, London SW3 2TS
Contact: 020 7225 1881
This subterranean Mayfair eatery was the first Indian in the world to be awarded a Michelin star. Stylish, swish and spicy – favourites are the lobster masala and sea bass fillet.
Location: 20 Queen St, London W1J 5PR
Contact: 020 7629 3561
20) The Cinnamon Club
Established in a book-lined Victorian library, this is anything but stuffy. The cocktail list is almost as divine as the food menu, which includes iberico pork vindaloo and tandoori king prawns.
Location:The Old Westminster Library, 30-32 Great Smith St, London SW1P 3BU
Contact: 020 7222 2555
By Alice Audley, 01 Jul 2014