A smart and comfortable chain-prototype Indian, which makes a very useful addition to the West End.
hat do you want in a chain-style restaurant in the heart of the West End? Comfort? Space? Perhaps an interior with a bit of drama? Good food? Friendy and efficient service. Looked at a whole, this Covent Garden newcomer – which feels as if it may be the prototype for a chain – seems to fit the bill pretty well.
A particular success is the spacious interior which, especially if you get a banquette seat, is as comfortable as any restaurant in London. (Let’s hope lingering lunchers don’t upset the economics too much!) It’s been done tastefully and with an eye to drama too. The proprietors of the deadly dull US import, Cantina Laredo – pretty much a neighbour – could learn a lot here.
Service is certainly friendly, but on our visit it was a bit disjointed, with drinks we hadn’t asked for being brought to the table, and the service of a wrong dish. The staff were clearly trying, though, so one hopes they’ll sort it out. Perhaps if you had to be away by a particular time for curtain up, you might be a bit less forgiving.
The food on our visit was remarkable largely for being Indian: Indian food may be widely available in the UK, but usually from independents, rather than from chains or proto-chains. The standard of the cooking (like the range of dishes on offer) didn’t strike us as in any way remarkable, but nor was it disappointing. A lamb biryani, lubricated with daal, was curiously more-ish, as was the rather crispy nan we had with it. A vegetable samosa was decent enough. A guest enjoyed her salmon salad, even if the taste didn’t do much for us. A mango and yoghurt dessert was refreshing, and an espresso – for a subcontinental establishment – was surprisingly good.
Is this the best Indian food in Covent Garden? No. (Although, in truth, this is hardly the hottest area for the cuisine of the subcontinent.) But, as noted above, we think that’s the wrong question. The answer to the right question – is this comfortable restaurant a really useful addition to the dining possibilities of London's ever more glittering West End? – seems to us to be a resounding ‘yes’.