Emma Henderson tests out the London branch of India’s best restaurant’s new brunch menu
The original Indian Accent in Delhi is India’s highest ranking restaurant, according to the controversial World’s 100 Best Restaurants list, coming it at number 90. The London branch, which opened in Mayfair at the end of last year, follows the original, which opened in 2009, and New York in 2016. The brains behind it all is Manish Mehrotra, born and raised in Bihar, north-east India who is often (fairly) credited with redefining Indian cuisine.
In the past few years, we’ve seen increasing amounts of high-end Indian restaurants open: from Gymkhana, also in Mayfair to innovative casual Indian restaurants with mini chains like Gunpowder, run by Harneet Baweja and Kricket, which Will Bowlby began at Pop Brixton and now has three permanent sites. And not forgetting, of course, Dishoom – the Bombay café-style restaurant which spreads from Edinburgh to Shoreditch.
There’s no denying that Indian food is evolving, but that’s not to say that our humble curry house doesn’t have a place anymore. It most certainly does. It just shows our love of Indian food is growing and expanding in different ways, both inside and out.
Indian Accent’s elegant and super design is led with emerald green velvet booth seating, marble-style tables and plenty of brushed gold. Just don’t come here expecting chicken tikka, peshwari naans and lamb samosas. It ain’t that kinda place.
This new type if Indian opens up to the brunch market, which started at the beginning of this month. Being a high end restaurant, there’s a la carte (starts £9 and mains £17 or two courses for £25) or brunch for the table. This is £40 per guest, but as described, is a “feast for the table”. Naturally, one that overflows on a table of two, turning it into a game of Tetris, trying to make plates, glasses and plant pots fit.
We go for the latter, with a selection of three starters, three mains and two desserts. First comes a double amuse bouche: a shot-glass size of warm, smooth, bright orange curried coconut soup with a tiny buttered naan bread filled with rich blue cheese – not something you’d expect considering India’s penchant for paneer and cheddar.
The starters come together: green pea bhel and crispy rice comes with crushed poppadoms, a traditional savoury snack, and the burrata (a surprise for an Indian meal) is dressed with pomegranate molasses, chutney and with little papdi circles to scoop up the creamy cheese mixture. Last is the chilli crab cheese toast: a super indulgent dish with plenty of cheddar and a warming spice, drizzled with tamarind ketchup that wouldn’t go a miss on a hangover.
The standout dish comes from the mains, the parsi ‘sali per eedu’, which we have to ask what it is. “It translates as birds nest,” our waiter says. Shredded potato is lightly fried to create a little nest, with a crispy fried egg (runny yolk) sitting on top. We keep going back for more of this, and I’m rather sad when it’s finished.
But there’s also the chicken chilli gosht (sounds odd, but it’s not) topped with quails eggs, another nod to the modern twist, with a beautifully flaky parantha. Both dishes are Indian with warming spice, but the third dish, the salmon with dill, is slightly disappointing. The potatoes have a thin chutney on them, but the rest of it seems wildly out of place which doesn’t stand up to the magnificence of previous two dishes. It’s something I could easily replicate at home and that’s not what I’m here for.
We finish off with two desserts, although we’re rather full from said feast (unsurprisingly). The makhan malai is a dome shaped ball of saffron-flavoured milk that’s been beaten to a become an airy mound and topped with lightly toast almonds and rose petals. It’s devine. And looks it too.
The service is faultless and friendly, and certainly helps with that Tetris game we play, where the team niftily whisks away dishes.
The food is excellent and memorable without being pretentious. It’s exciting, modern and the feast is celebration worthy, while the al la carte two courses is an absolute steal.
Indian Accent ,16 Albemarle St, Mayfair, London W1S 4HW; indianaccent.com; 020 7629 9802