THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
When it comes to Indian restaurants, Londoners are spoiled for choice. Every hood has a local curry shop, Brick Lane is a whole street of them, and there are a fair few establishments offering fine dining as well. With such a selection, why would anyone make a journey to West Dulwich? Because the food AND drink is damn good!
Chef Patron Dayashankar Sharma has created a menu based on elevating, and at times reinventing, classic dishes. It’s a beautiful mix of modern techniques and traditional flavours, served in style by a top notch team. Chef Sharma comes from Rajasthan, the land of kings. I felt like one!
I couldn’t resist ordering The Gentleman (£9.75). If the shoe fits! The mix of Dalmore 12 yrs. and Laphroaig 10 yrs. with coffee, chocolate bitters, orange peel and cinnamon arrives under a glass cloche, filled with smoke. A whisky in front of the fire on Christmas. Divine. An absolute must, even if you’re a Lady!
Poppadoms with mango, mint and tomato chutney (£3.25) were a fine start and piqued my appetite perfectly.
Our two starters showed off Sharma’s skill at plating as well as his culinary expertise. Seared scallops (£9.25) were cooked to perfection and served with crab and pepper quille (cone shaped peaks). Superbly spiced venison (£9.95) is served on grilled aubergine, with spicy tomato sauce and a cream cheese and yogurt spread. Both were highlights of the evening and looked as good as they tasted.
Heritage lamb chops (£23.95) are a specialty. Big, meaty, double-bone rack chops marinated in black cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and raw papaya are an absolute treat and tender as can be in spite of being served medium well. A glass of Pinot Noir, Mas La Chevalière (£9.50) with a balance of fruit, spice and tannin was a good match.
King prawns in creamy coconut and mustard sauce (£16.75), spiced okra with tomato and green chilli (£12.95), dal Makhani (£7.95), Basmati rice (£2.95) and cheese and chilli naan (£3.50) were served in a more traditional fashion in copper pots to keep them hot. What a feast. The prawns were succulent and the sauce bursting with flavour. The dal was particularly good. Reduced to a delicious intensity and full of butter and cream. The okra was excellent but the promised chilli in the naan did not come through.
After all that, who could possibly eat dessert? Well, perhaps just a little chocolate brick (£6.25)! The gorgeous ganache was spiced with black cardamom and cinnamon and served with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce. Perfectly balanced and a wonderful fusion of east and west.
With no more room for a second pudding, we decided on a Bhojpura Cutting Chai (£9.25) instead. Baileys, chai vodka, masala, cinnamon and saffron was a sweetly spiced, milky cocktail that satisfied my sweet tooth…and my booze tooth…and my spice tooth.
I love my local curry shop in South Tottenham, but perhaps The Gentleman is for turning!