Steve Hogarty on the best places to eat during office hours in the City and Canary Wharf
WHAT IS IT? Mentioning a rival restaurant before the table water even arrives is like accidentally calling your partner by your ex’s name, but mention Indian Accent’s neighbour to your server – London institution Gymkhana is just a poppadom’s toss away – and you’ll elicit a friendly and self-assured smile. “I think you’ll find we’re a little different,” our server politely informs me. And he’s right, Indian Accent shares a few things with the handful of fine-subcontinental restaurants dotted about this gilded postcode, but it carves out a niche that’s very much its own. Chef Manish Mehrotra presents his very own take on contemporary, inventive Indian cooking, with small, refined and flavour-focused dishes that won’t send you into an afternoon curry-coma.
WHAT’S THE DEAL? If you’re working on a time limit you can be in and out of here in under 45 minutes with the £19 business lunch, which comprises a main dish and a glass of wine or beer. But if you can linger longer – and you really should – there’s a two or three course set menu for £25 or £30. Better yet is the six course chef’s tasting menu, which draws together the highlights of the a la carte menu for £48 per person. This is not nearly as languid as it sounds – we were all wrapped up in 90 minutes flat. I can absolutely guarantee that on your death bed, one of your regrets will not be spending an extra half an hour at Indian Accent.
WHAT’S ON THE MENU? We open with a Mini Cheddar sized poppadom amuse bouche, filled with blue cheese and served with a little granite cup of hot pumpkin gravy. It’s a boisterous hors d’oeuvres – the bread crisp and puffy, the sauce sweet and soupy – and an indicator of what’s to come.
What comes is marble-sized balls of aloo chaat on white pea mash with tamarind and coriander sauces, tofu masala with asparagus and salty shishito pepper, then a pomegranate and black salt ice lolly to cleanse the palate, before two spinach saag kofta in a rich tomato curry sauce are slid across the tablecloth. As courses progress to their sweet crescendo, the chef foregoes the usually uninspiring kulfi in favour of more interesting desserts. There’s the makhan malai, a sort of light and airy custardy pudding made with saffron milk and topped with rose petals and almond flakes, follow by doda barfi, a melty treacle tart served with vanilla bean ice cream. It’s wonderful. You can leave any reservations you might have about Indian desserts at the door.
NEED TO BOOK? Yes you do. The dining room fills up around lunchtime, especially later in the week and at weekends, so it’s best to book online at indianaccent.com or call 0207 6299802
VERDICT: With branches in New Delhi and New York, which attract accolades galore, this newcomer to the Mayfair dining scene has international weight and star status backing it up. But Indian Accent sets out to impress as if it’s just opened its doors for the first time. Smart, modern, brilliant Indian cuisine.
Source: City A.M.