Indian Restaurants in St James's
1. Benares Indian restaurant in Mayfair 12a Berkeley Square House, - W1
Sameer Taneja’s “exceptional” cuisine continues to maintain the high standing of this well-known Berkeley Square destination. Despite the odd “unexciting” report, most accounts are of “fabulous” meals from “a menu that’s very spice-led and refined-tasting”. Located on the first floor, its modern design “doesn’t feel too ‘posh Mayfair’ in ambience terms”, with meals here said to be “well-paced” and “refreshing”.
2. Gymkhana Indian restaurant in Mayfair 42 Albemarle St - W1
The “standard-bearer for subcontinental food in London” – the Sethi family’s “exceptional” Mayfair destination nowadays ranks in the Top-20 most-mentioned restaurants in our annual diners’ poll, and is the highest-ranking Indian. “An amazing selection of traditional dishes not found anywhere else” delivers “top-quality flavours relying on taste, not heat” (“so delicious, I couldn’t stop eating!”), all in a “vibey” two-floor setting, with Indian-inspired décor referencing Indian clubs and mansions. “Unbeatable… if you can get in, that is…”
3. Veeraswamy Indian restaurant in Mayfair Victory House, 99-101 Regent Street - W1
Approaching its centenary, London’s oldest Indian, near Piccadilly Circus, continues to thrive as part of the high-quality group that also owns Chutney Mary. It may be an “old favourite” for many fans of decades’ standing, but the “relaxing” interior is modern and without any ‘heritage’ appeal. “Service is friendly and professional – not pushy, but there when you want them” – and the cooking has “sublime flavours and fragrances”.
4. Chutney Mary Indian restaurant in Westminster 73 St James's Street - SW1A
A trip to the “wonderful, fun cocktail bar” makes a brilliant introduction to this “spacious, elegant and bustling” operation, whose “marvellous décor truly gives it character”. The original venture of Ranjit & Namita Mathrani, plus the latter’s sister, Camellia Panjabi (who also now own Amaya, Veeraswamy and Masala Zone), it moved several years ago from SW10 to this swanky St James’s address. The “sophisticated Indian cooking” has “superb spicing” with plenty of “depth and complexity” and “wonderful” flavours, and amongst London’s posh Indians it remains one of the best known.
5. Kricket Indian restaurant in Soho 12 Denman Street - W1
As 10CC might have put it: “We don’t like Kricket… we love it!”. “Brilliant Indian sharing plates with an emphasis on taste, not heat” have bowled a hat-trick of successes for Rik Campbell and Will Bowlby since their street food pop-up went permanent in Soho, Brixton and White City. Their “interesting and flexible” small-plate menus are served in a “cool, vibey atmosphere”, either eating at the counter or at tables – with more vibes next door in their speakeasy bar Soma for diners in Soho.
6. Farzi Cafe Indian restaurant in Westminster 8 Haymarket - SW1Y
2021 Review: In the heart of the West End, this decidedly glam yearling scored better in our survey than the mixed rep it received in press reviews. The first UK outpost of a 30-strong international chain hailing from India and the Gulf, its repertoire of tapas-y offerings are very much of the funky, evolved school of Indian cuisine, and reporters salivate over “an amazing choice of inventive dishes” that are “far better than you would expect” in this touristy locale.
7. Darjeeling Express Indian restaurant in Soho Top Floor, Kingly Court, Carnaby Street, - W1B
2020 Review: “The small menu really delivers on taste and price” with “some absolutely amazing dishes”, at Calcutta-born Asma Khan’s former supper club, now in hugely popular, permanent quarters off Carnaby Street. The “friendly” staff, including an all-women kitchen team of self-described ‘housewives’, ensure there’s a real “home-cooked” flavour to the enterprise.
8. Dishoom Indian restaurant in Soho 22 Kingly St - W1
“I have yet to find the person who does not absolutely love Dishoom!” – Shamil and Kavi Thakrar’s “must-visit chain” remains our poll’s most-commented-on group, on the strength of its “exceptional” homage to the Irani cafés of Bombay. “A sense of nostalgia for a vanished India and quirky colonial notices add to the fun” of its “cool”, “evocative” branches, where “outstanding staff, even when very busy” (which is to say always) preside over “borderline hectic” conditions with great verve and efficiency. The “slightly different Indian food” (“with spice rather than heat”) is “far better than it has any right to be” given the volumes it’s served in… “superb”… “so consistent” and “extremely fairly priced” too. The “left field” breakfast menu is famous nowadays, and “awesome bacon and egg naan rolls” have “redefined what brekkie is all about” for many Londoners. Founded in 2010, they will hit six branches in London in 2022, with a big (355 covers) new Canary Wharf outlet, complete with a bar and terrace overlooking the docks. On the downside, bookings at all the outlets are restricted and “queues are half way down the street”. “It’s worth it though!!”. Top Menu Tips – “Finally got to try the black dal… a big hug in a bowl” that’s “to die for” and “Ruby Murray is a family favourite”. And, with their burgeoning delivery business, “the fact you can now order the Bacon Naan for home consumption is a wonderful, wonderful thing”.
9. Bombay Bustle Indian restaurant in Mayfair 29 Maddox Street - W1S
“Noisy and aptly named bustle” – this “well-executed and brilliant concept” (sibling to Jamavar) is inspired by the street food of Mumbai: a “deeply impressive range of dishes” and results are “mind-blowing” – with just “the right balance of spices and herbs”.
10. Tamarind Indian restaurant in Mayfair 20 Queen St - W1
“An absolutely fabulous place”, this pioneer of upscale Indian food for almost 30 years (and the first in the world to bag a Michelin star) is flying high again after a major refurb doubled the size of its Mayfair premises a couple of years ago. “Despite newcomers” taking curry to new levels, fans say “this remains the best Indian food” – “the brilliant taster menu is exceptional and demonstrates the skill and versatility of the kitchen” (now run by Karunesh Khanna, formerly head chef of Amaya).
11. Kanishka Indian restaurant in Westminster 17-19 Maddox Street - W1S
Atul Kochhar’s “inventive” Northeastern Indian cuisine (“light and not too rich”) continues to win a strong fanclub for this well regarded four-year-old in Mayfair. It would rate even higher, were it not for a few reporters for whom “it’s sound all around but just not that next-level I’d expect at the price point”.
12. Hankies Indian restaurant in Soho 67 Shaftesbury Avenue - W1D
Tapas based on Delhi street food is served in a roti at this Indian duo, with branches in Soho and in a smart hotel dining room near Marble Arch, for whom feedback remains limited but upbeat. (The Paddington branch has now closed).
13. Tamarind Kitchen Indian restaurant in Soho 167-169 Wardour St - W1F
This “sparky version of its parent Tamarind” in a “busy part of Soho” knocks out “delicious twists on quintessential Delhi street food” in a “large, stylish and comfortable dining room”. “Jovial staff” add to the “very special” package.
14. Jamavar Indian restaurant in Mayfair 8 Mount Street - W1
“Real Indian cuisine” – “exquisite flavours from top-quality ingredients and stunning preparation” – have won a major reputation for this “top-class Indian”, founded by Samyukta Nair, whose family own India’s luxurious Leela Palace group. It occupies a “fantastic”, tastefully decorated Mayfair site, near Berkeley Square: “quiet enough for conversation whilst busy enough to create a reassuring hum”.
15. Fatt Pundit Indian restaurant in Westminster 77 Berwick Street - W1F
“Absolutely delicious” Indo-Chinese dishes (inspired by the Hakka-influenced cuisine of Kolkata) makes it worth discovering these slightly offbeat eateries in Soho and Covent Garden: (“delectable chops, and it even converted me to liking okra!”).
16. Gopal’s of Soho Indian restaurant in Soho 12 Bateman St - W1
2021 Review: “For a cuzza in Soho”, this “good Indian in the centre of all the action” is just the job thanks to its “flavoursome and so tasty” cooking and “top price/quality ratio”. Family run since 1988, its unfashionably traditional basement setting is also a great antidote when you’re sick of being dazzled by trendy new restaurant design-concepts.
17. Sagar Indian restaurant in Westminster 37 Panton Street - SW1Y
“Very tasty dosas” headline the “wide range of delicious, South Indian vegetarian dishes”, “with many unusual choices” at this “unassuming-looking” small chain, whose most central branch is just off Leicester Square. “The food is good enough even to silence grumbling carnivores like me!”
18. Manthan Indian restaurant in Westminster 49 Maddox Street - W1S
Rohit Ghai’s “comfy and stylish” Mayfair yearling offers a homely menu inspired by the chef’s Punjabi childhood. “Awesome” flavours from “the good variety of dishes” make it “a must-try” for fans. Sceptics, though – while acknowledging that “effort is put into both good food and service” – feel some results “lack punch” or “aren’t quite at the top levels of food from the subcontinent in London”.
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