17 Charing Cross, London, WC2H 0EP www.lotus.london
Giles has his first try of upmarket Indian and thinks he could well get a taste for it.
Lotus , a contemporary Indian Restaurant near Piccadilly Circus, offered me great opportunity to visit and taste their new winter menu. I hadn’t eaten fine dining Indian food before so I was intrigued to find out how a curry, rice and naan could be refined.
First things first; the dÃƒÂ©cor. Lotus isn’t your typical Indian restaurant. You’re immediately struck by a modern looking dining area clad in anchor grey fabric and large shiny mirrors. The bar is also modern, laden with gleaming glassware and smartly dressed waiters. It’s more like a contemporary Mayfair nightclub than a curry house.
In terms of atmosphere it was quite subdued. I’m not sure if they were having an off day but the dining area was deprived of diners and given it’s located in central London you would expect numbers to be higher. A weekend visit might provide more atmosphere.
The menu is refreshingly simple and included lots of game, offal and fish Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a tell-tale sign of an aspiring modern restaurant. I was also pleased to later find out all the ingredients in the restaurant are sourced from the UK, compliments to the chef.
Our hostess recommended we try the taster menu which included starters, kebabs, mains and pudding.
First came a selection of mini poppadums made from rice, potato and millet. A zingy mint dip and chilly chutney paired well with all three. There was also Corn Chaat Golgappa; small hollow spheres of crispy corn filled with sweetcorn, Jaljeera and Tamarind Chutney. They were cold, sweet, spiked with lots of chilli and very enjoyable.
A Pigeon Masala Dosa was next. The Dosa was wrapped into a smart little cone and it concealed the pigeon beneath. The meat itself was tender and contained notes of ginger and green chilli. Unfortunately, it lacked good seasoning, something that would have elevated the dish.
At this point we were also served a Rabbit Kheema with Green Pepper Corns and Missi Roti. The rabbit was tender and broke away from the touch of a fork. We could have had two of these dishes Ã¢â‚¬â€œ put simply it was delicious.
For kebabs, we were served lamb chops with a garlic pickle, onion and chilli salad. The lamb was cooked well and wasn’t complicated by too many spices, allowing the flavour of the lamb to shine through.
Our second kebab was spiced Red Snapper and Cobia all dished up with crisp bengal gram, dill yogurt and a rather over the top mustard essence. Forgetting the mustard essence, both pieces of fish were stunning. The red snapper was moist, flaky and undeniably tender to the point it literally Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and pardon the clichÃƒÂ©d phrase Ã¢â‚¬â€œ melted in the mouth. The Cobia, a fish I had never tried before, was on a similar trend. Some of the best fish I have eaten has been in Greece and Turkey, and this came somewhere close.
For mains, we were given a Lamb Shanks Khorma embellished in a sheet of 24 Karat Gold. This was as a well-prepared lamb shank should be: easy off the bone and moist. However, I found the cashew sauce bland and lacking any stand out flavour. I also have a gripe with gold leaf, yes, it’s nice to look at but it adds nothing to a dish apart from a hefty price tag.
Our second main was a prawn narkel shorshe cooked within a de-husked coconut and served with organic rice, Indian lemon and chillies. The plating of this was spectacular and the prawns delivered on size and taste.
For dessert, we were served Raj Bhog which is a kind of cottage cheese and steamed yoghurt served with fig chutney. The other was a Sandalwood, Rose Srikhand with Dumroot Halwa. The cottage cheese was not sweet enough for my liking and the Srikhand too perfumed. My guest however rather enjoyed the former.
I think Lotus has the potential to become a great indian restaurant. There was some truly stand out dishes that I would definitely return for, namely the Corn Chaat Golgappa, the Rabbit Keema and the Red Snapper and Cobia.