A good curry consistently ranks among some of the nation’s favourite food, and London’s many Indian restaurants range from those serving great comfort food to intricate, Michelin-star cuisine. The Resident picks out some of London’s finest…
Lead image: The Curry Room at Rubens Palace Hotel
1 Chutney Mary, St James’s
Chutney Mary, a mould-breaking restaurant that redefined and raised the bar of Indian cuisine in London when it opened in Chelsea in 1990, specialises in Anglo-Indian cuisine. Originally, the restaurant served home comforts like Bangalore bangers and mash, salmon kedgeree and rogan josh. Gradually, they came to specialise in regional and coastal Indian cuisine, then unknown in London restaurants, with plenty of seafood (sauteed Cornish crab in garlic butter), grills and fish options from Dover Sole to lobster cooked on the tandoor. The restaurant moved to St James’s a few years ago when the lease expired.
73 St James’s Street, SW1H 1PH; chutneymary.com
2 Veeraswamy, Mayfair
After 90 years of serving high-quality Indian cuisine to curry-loving Londoners as the UK’s oldest Indian restaurant, Veeraswamy has finally gained a highly coveted Michelin star. This Mayfair establishment has welcomed royalty and elevated curry night to a fine art. According to The Resident’s food writer Alexander Larman, the lamb pasanda is ‘miles away from the mediocre curry house slop that shames the name’, and the Kerala prawn dish packs a fiery kick that does credit to its name.
Victory House, 99 Regent Street, Mayfair W1B 4EZ; veeraswamy.com
Karam Sethi opened Gymkhana in Mayfair back in 2013, and he’s won just about every food award going since, including a Michelin star. His innovative take on luxury Indian food is worth the hefty price tag that comes with it, and often pulls in celebrity diners from Miley Cyrus to Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon. Sadly, Gymkhana was forced to close its doors after a kitchen fire in the summer of 2019, but the Albemarle Street restaurant reopened after an opulent refurb in February 2020.
42 Albemarle Street, Mayfair W1S 4JH; gymkhanalondon.com
4 The Curry Room at The Rubens at The Palace Hotel, Victoria
When a 5-star luxury hotel opens an ‘authentic Indian restaurant’, ears prick up. The Rubens at The Palace Hotel launched The Curry Room in June 2018, serving a three-course set menu by Chef Arun Kumar that blends Indian and South African flavours. The menu starts with a selection of keema samoosa’s and poppadums, followed by a curry like the chicken and prawn curry or Bengal fish curry. For dessert, choose from four options, including vanilla cheesecake and kulfi ice cream. The food is phenomenal.
39 Buckingham Palace Road, Victoria SW1W 0PS; rubenshotel.com
5 Indian Accent, Mayfair
Mayfair has quite the generous smattering of top-notch Indian restaurants, and Indian Accent is certainly a strong contender as one of the best. The menu explores progressive ideas in Indian cuisine while maintaining traditional integrity, serving delicate but punchy morsels of divinity by chef Manish Mehrotra. If you’re lucky enough to bag a lunch meeting here, work your way through the six course tasting menu, which kicks off with an adorable little ceramic mug of pumpkin and coconut soup that’s to die for, followed by the likes of tofu masala, sea bream with asparagus in kerala coconut moilee and chicken malai tikka with green chilli cream, sugar snap peas and summer truffle, followed by a gorgeous doda barfi treacle tart.
16 Albemarle Street, Mayfair W1S 4HW; indianaccent.com
6 Brigadiers, the City
Inspired by the army mess bars of India, where regiments go to eat, drink and play, Indian BBQ restaurant Brigadiers encourages socialising and camaraderie as much as it does the enjoyment of a good meal. Live sport is shown on demand in selected rooms, and you can play pool or cards while dining. The food offering focuses on different methods of Indian BBQ – tandoors, charcoal grills, rotisseries, wood ovens and classic Indian smokers – with dishes like the mixed grill sizzler, game bird Reshmi kebabs and curry leaf and ginger spiced wood roasted sole. They even host a Monday Night Curry Club.
1-5 Bloomberg Arcade EC4N 8AR; brigadierslondon.com
7 Kricket, Brixton, Soho & White City
Kricket started life at Pop Brixton and such was the success of its clever concoctions that it has now opened up two permanent locations, moving from Pop to larger premises on Atlantic Road and opening a second branch in Soho. There’s pumpkin served with makhani sauce, fresh paneer, hazelnut crumble and puffed wild rice and kid goat raan. Drink-wise, you can gulp on Paxton IPA from south London’s London Beer Factory or Reliance Pale Ale from the Brixton Brewery.
41-43 Atlantic Road, Brixton SW9 8JL / 12 Denman Street, Soho W1D 7HH / 2 Television Centre, 101 Wood Lane W12 7FR; kricket.co.uk
8 Benares, Mayfair
Michelin-starred Benares restaurant in Mayfair’s Berkeley Square is definitely one to tick off the list. From the à la carte menu, you can choose between dishes such as crispy soft shell crab and chickpeas with curry leaf and coconut with tamarind dressing or guinea fowl tikka with sweet and sour beetroot dressing.
12a Berkeley Square, Mayfair W1J 6BS; benaresrestaurant.com
South east London institution Babur celebrated 30 years in 2015. it’s one of the area’s favourite special occasion restaurants, and rightly so – its contemporary representations of India’s many cuisines have drawn much praise, and the cocktails are fun and seasonal too. Feast on gurkhali ostrich tikka and rabbit soweta in a cool, contemporary brick interior and keep an eye out for special tasting menus.
119 Brockley Rise, Forest Hill SE23 1JP; babur.info
10 Everest Inn, Blackheath
The award-winning Everest Inn in Blackheath offers contemporary, beautifully styled Nepalese and Indian cuisine. The chefs prepare everything on site, using the best, freshest ingredients and unique blends of spices for flavoursome dishes. Try a fish dish like the Machha Modi Khola – marinated white fish cooked in mustard, ginger, fresh herbs and spices and a touch of yoghurt.
41 Montpelier Vale, Blackheath SE3 0TJ; everestinn.co.uk
11 Dishoom, various location
No listicle of London’s top destinations for Indian spice would be complete without mention of Dishoom. It’s worth queuing to get a table at Dishoom, where street food inspired by the Irani cafes of Bombay is served amid a buzzy atmosphere where vintage decor meet upscale touches at Granary Square in King’s Cross, Carnaby Street, Covent Garden, Kensington and Shoreditch. They also do some cracking breakfasts – the egg naan roll is a winner – but be prepared to queue.
Granary Square, 5 Stable Street, Kings Cross N1C 4AB; dishoom.com
12 Chai Thali, Camden & Fulham
Chai Thali offers a riotously flavoursome menu featuring street food and kerb-side eats from across the continent – taking hungry diners on a journey from Old Delhi to Mumbai via the coast of Kerala. Grab a quick bite with a turmeric latte, or go the whole hog and order a feast to share between friends. Unusual offerings include Bombay roadside scrambled egg masala served with a buttered brioche bun and the famous South Indian dish ‘uttapam’. To drink, try the Star Chaitini – a riff on the Porn Star Martini with vodka, passion fruit liqueur and Prosecco – or the Chai Spiced Mojito with star anise.
Centro 3, 19 Mandela Street, Camden NW1 0DU & 146 Wandsworth Bridge Road, Fulham SW6 2UH; chaithali.com
13 Amaya, Belgravia
Amaya, which opened in Belgravia in 2004 to immediate acclaim, offers a unique cuisine based on contemporary Indian food with a hint of the Orient. With a theatrical open grill kitchen, Amaya is – literally – one of London’s hottest restaurants, with a Michelin star to boot. The menu offers sophisticated Indian-style grills infused with subtly complex flavours. Highlights include a wild venison seekh kebab and duck tikka with tandoori plum chutney.
Halkin Arcade, 19 Motcomb Street, Belgravia SW1X 8LB; amaya.biz
14 The Cinnamon Collection, Westminster, the City & Battersea
The chic, contemporary Cinnamon Kitchen is known for innovative Indian cooking influenced by classic British traditions right by Liverpool Street, with a second branch at Battersea Power Station. Sample green spiced monkfish and sup on cocktails like the Spiced Plum Saketini. And of course, there’s The Cinnamon Club in Westminster, Vivek Singh’s flagship Indian fine dining restaurant set in the historic Grade II listed former Westminster Library. Here, courses including the likes of Spencer Gulf wild king prawns with Alleppey curry sauce, Vesavara spiced mille-feuille of lamb, and Kokum crusted Halibut.
9 Devonshire Square EC2M 4YL / 4 Arches Lane, Battersea SW11 8AB / Old Westminster Library, 30-32 Great Smith Street SW1P 3BU; thecinnamoncollection.com
15 Thali, South Kensington
This unassuming little restaurant is famous for its authentic North Indian cuisine, with a focus on flavour instead of spice, and some fantastic thalis. Many of the recipes are handed down through three generations, and chef Dila Ram honed his skills in Delhi before heading for South Ken. The korma is incredibly mild, almost milk-like, but the chicken tikka masala is probably one of the best you’ll ever have, and the samosas are top notch too. The veggie thali is where it’s really at, though.
166 Old Brompton Road, South Kensington SW5 0BA; thali.uk.com
16 Trishna, Marylebone
Trishna in Marylebone Village serves up a contemporary taste of Indian coastal cuisine, inspired chiefly by the south-west coast. Awarded a Michelin star in 2012, Trishna continues to offer old favourites like Hariyali Bream, Chicken Pepper Fry and Seafood Biryani. There’s also an extensive wine list focusing on emerging regions and fine wines from niche producers and boutique wineries the world over. Plus, terrace doors opening out onto Blandford Street and a smattering of terrace tables offer both semi and fully alfresco dining options.
15-17 Blandford Street, Marylebone Village W1U 3DG; trishnalondon.com