Imli W1
REVIEWS, February 17, 2006
Overall Value
2
out of 5
Food 
Service 
Ambience 
2
£40
  • Food
  • Service
  • Ambience
Imli Street, 167-169 Wardour St, London, W1F 8WR

The traditional curry house may now be the UK’s favourite restaurant format. Asian entrepreneurs not being a bunch to stand still, though, this week we review some of the modern ‘nouvelle Indian’ formats that continue to spring up around town.

As an offshoot of Mayfair’s famous Tamarind, the opening of this Soho newcomer came with a heavy burden of expectations. It duly received instant acclaim from some reviewers as a budget culinary nirvana, so we hot-footed it to see what the fuss was about.

But our first visit left us confused. Had we missed something? It’s a bright and inexpensive modern Indian canteen, where – our instincts told us – the food was nice enough but no more. What were we to do? Such is our dedication to our readers we actually went back. Big mistake. Always trust your instincts. Our second visit confirmed the view that there’s not much wrong with the place’s ‘canapé-style’ dishes. But with so many different types of Indian food being quite common nowadays nothing seemed especially novel, and none of the dishes seemed dazzlingly well executed. (The fresh fruit juices and non-alcoholic drinks, however, were unusually tasty.)

On the plus side, the small, reasonably-priced dishes allow plenty of scope for mixing and matching, and quality is pretty consistent. Service tries very hard too, even if our experience was that it came at variable speeds. The place certainly seems to be finding a niche and was busy on both occasions. It makes a very handy West End standby, ideal for a light lunch or pre-theatre and would also make an OK dinner destination for those on a tight budget. Just don’t go with too high expectations.

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