Indian Accent has created quite a rattle in Mayfair, an impressive feat as the neighbourhood already plays host to torch-carriers of the cuisine whose status seemed, well, unassailable. But this is no regular opening. Spearheaded by chef/owner Manish Menohtra, the original Indian Accent in New Delhi created a similar stir and won pride of place on the World’s 50 Best 2017 and Asia’s 50 Best 2017 lists. Food critics were charmed and beguiled when Indian Accent opened its doors in 2015 in New York City, where the cuisine has never found much purchase. Now, in the former abode of Chor Bizarre on Albemarle Street, they’ve launched a sortie into London’s top-shelf dining theatre.
The dining room is much more restrained than it was in its previous incarnation. Beyond the reception is a small working bar fronted with backlit marble with a shiny brass drinks gantry dangling glasses from on high. Classy, muted herringbone flooring paves a walkway between forest green banquettes on the northern aspect and forest green booths on the southern. The slick grown-up room is punctuated every so often by a flash of subcontinental playfulness, usually in the form of gilded cages or brass bordering.
We settled down with a bottle of Arianna Occhipinti Il Frappato, which was a light and lissom playmate with many if not most of the dishes. What arrived after set the tone for the meal: a ceramic shot-glass of pumpkin and coconut shorba attended by a pocket-sized blue cheese naan. The symphonic pairing of flavours, in the shorba alone but especially when complemented by the bread, was dazzling. Bread pops up in many iterations on this menu. It’s imperative that you try the kulchas, mildly leavened flatbread impregnated with a variety of stuffings, including bacon, black pudding and butter chicken. They are mind-bendingly good.
Otherwise, Kashmiri morels are similarly mesmeric, baked in walnut powder and served with tuile-style parmesan popadoms. Soy keema with quail egg hit all of the right notes, swapping out lamb or kid goat for soy curd and accompanying it with lime-flavoured pao bread. Beet and peanut butter vadai with a goat cheese pachadi was one of the more unusual flavour pairings we tried, but one of the most enlightened. We finished off the meal with a doda barfi treacle tart served in a cylinder with vanilla bean ice cream, as well as mahkan malai with aerated saffron milk, rose petal jiggery brittle and almonds. Both were otherworldly.
Just when we thought that London has reached the top of its game with Indian restaurants, Indian Accent sets up shop. We can’t claim to complain.top-shelf dining theatre.