The season’s a-changing and the night are drawing in. And so the smartest foodies seek solace in spice; spending endless evenings lingering over stomach soothing, heart-warming Indian feasts – chatting over chaat, plunging parathas into flavoursome gravies, cramming down kebabs, and perhaps chasing the lot with a naughty nip of Old Monk.
This Autumn, Indian food-loving Londoners have three new venues to hunker down in; although one suspects they’ll fast become year-round favourites. From Bombay bites served up with strong cocktails and a dollop of rose-tinted nostalgia to stews whose flavours bring South India to Soho, expect the city’s Indian cuisine to get more than a tad tastier.
At long last it will be possible for Central Londoners to feed an appam addiction fast, without the hop(per), skip and jump out to East Ham. I’ve an inkling these highly versatile, saucer-shaped pancakes will become big business: naturally gluten-free, low-fat, and just as good at lunch or dinnertime as in the morning, when they’re traditionally consumed in South India and Sri Lanka.
The Sethi family’s new Soho spot will also serve snack-like ‘short eats’ and dish up dosa – another popular pancake-type item dish which, in its duck incarnation, is Gymkhana‘s most-ordered dish – along with a host of spicy stews for dunking’n’scooping. Far less formal than the other Indian restaurants in the Sethi stable, with design inspired by the snack shacks of the South, Hoppers will be a place to pop in for a fantastic feed for a reasonable fee.
- Hoppers, 49 Frith Street, Soho, London W1D 4SG
If you loved Abdul Yaseen’s assured touch with spice at Cinnamon Kitchen, you’ll be delighted at the prospect of the affable chef opening his own establishment just a stone’s throw away behind Liverpool Street station. The menu will comprise Abdul’s innovative yet eminently edible interpretations of traditional royal repasts, following the current vogue for laid-back family-style feasting.
Street-style light bites, ‘naanzas’ and creative cocktails will amply sate curious grazers, but to truly do justice to Abdul’s menu, it seems only sensible to arrive with an appetite that’s both sizeable and adventurous. It won’t be easy to choose between Nawabi Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb, Keralan Shrimp Cocktail, Kid Goat Biryani, and Shahi Degh – the seasonally-evolving ‘Royal Pot’; but if you come with a crowd, you can opt to order it all.
The venue’s modern decor, meanwhile, is to reference India’s palaces; Nanu Design’s interiors bringing royal references and the best of the West to East London. Expect retro-glam metallics, palatial fixtures’n’fittings and sumptuous textiles juxtaposed with the top-of-the-line mod cons that bring things firmly back to the future – a slick open kitchen and Robata grill amongst their number. This autumn, if someone suggests Dabaar, do.
- Darbaar, 1 Snowden Street, Broadgate West, London, EC2A 2DQ
If the record I received in the post announcing the arrival of Dishoom’s forthcoming fourth outpost is anything to go by, the new Bombay Cafe will be taking its new neighbourhood of Carnaby right back to the area’s all-singing, swinging sixties heyday. Catering to over two hundred covers both inside and in its contained courtyard, it’s a big old behemoth which balances a strong family resemblance to its siblings with its own unique identity.
The prospect of one, two, or a few of Carl Brown’s cocktails always get me dishoom-ing over to any of the eponymous restaurants, and in Carnaby one can expect a list of brand-new libations alongside tasty new treats you can’t eat in any of the sister and brother branches. Music is a muse for the new venue; so much so that an album – Slip Disc: Dishoom’s Bombay London Grooves – is in the offing. Boogie on down for the soft launch between now and 13th October, and the bill will make you swear it’s still the sixties just as effectively as the ambiance.
- Dishoom Carnaby, 22 Kingly Street, London W1B 5QB. The soft launch runs from 4 – 13 October 2015, offering 50% off food to walk-ins
- To read more about South Indian cuisine, click here
- To read more about all the Indian events happening this October, click here
- To read an interview with Dishoom co-founder Shamil Thakrar, click here
- Main image – Chef Abdul Yaseen’s Game, rarha keema & tandoori breads at Darbaar