Quilon, 41 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6AF Tel: 020 7821 1899 www.quilon.co.uk
Having heard that Quilon had been awarded the Wine Spectator magazine’s 2009 Restaurant Wine List Award of Excellence, we decided we must go to this Michelin starred restaurant to check out both its food and wines. The Wine Spectator awards recognise restaurants whose wine lists offer interesting selections appropriate to the cuisine and which appeal to a wide range of wine lovers. Typically the award will go to restaurants with at least 100 wines to choose from matching the menu in both price and style. Unusual for most restaurants, Quilon offers half bottles in 80 of the 140 wines they stock, a smart move as this allows customers to try different wines as they make their way through the courses of their meal.
Set in Buckingham Gate, Quilon is a spacious, uncluttered, stylish restaurant. The décor features vibrant, lush, jungle scene murals that are well lit and have a 3D effect. This might sound a little garish, but it isn’t, it works very well and helps create comfortable environment in which to relax and enjoy your meal. The menu brings together a good range of interesting dishes, including an wide selection of vegetarian offerings. The menu also invites you, if you prefer, to have the chef plan a tailor-made tasting menu for you. We decided to go for this, indeed, we put our trust entirely in the hands of the restaurant by asking them to select wines that would complement our dishes, in the light of their recent award. So, after short discussion about any food issues we might have, our waiter delivered our request to the kitchen.
While we waited for our starter to arrive, we had a glass of Grover Sauvignon Blanc, a 2007 vintage from Nandi Hills, India. This quite full bodied white was a good accompaniment to a basket of popadoms, tasty sauces and crunchy lotus root that had been given to us to pick at. Our starter then arrived, oblong dishes each containing a mini vegetable dosa, light and crispy pancakes in the shape of cones covering a lovely spicy mix of vegetables and accompanied by sambhar, a sort of dhal and vegetable soup. Also on each of these dishes were lovely, very full flavoured crab cake, and a portion of pepper shrimps that were divine. With this gorgeous selection, our waiter brought us a fruity Sula Chenin Blanc, from Nashik, India, that beautifully balanced the spicy tingliness of the three tasters that we had before us.
Moving on to mains, we were each presented with a plate upon which sat an excellent fillet of sea bass that had been cooked with a coating of tomato, lime and a hint of chilli, aside of these were a piece of slow roasted lamb shank that were very tender, and had great flavour from the fennel and mint it was cooked in. Together with these a dish of mangalorian chicken, tender chunks of chicken in a thick good flavoured sauce, some rice and a huge side dish of crispy okra which had been battered and deep fried and given great flavour through tossing it with a mix of onion, tomato and crushed pepper. We were each brought a glass of Chianti Ruffina Riserva Prunatelli from Tuscany with this course, and it worked very well with the mix of flavours that we hade before us. Having finished our Chianti, our waiter suggested that we might also try the Sula Dindori Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon, another Nashik wine, which we did, and were glad that we did, as it was velvety smooth with excellent body.
For dessert, we had a rather amazing chocolate mousse creation, served with a chocolate curl, the mousse and the chocolate curl both liberally sprinkled with ‘space dust’ that popped and crackled in your mouth as you ate it. This was the perfect ending to a marvellous meal.
As mentioned, Quilon has an extensive wine list that ranges upward from £20 per bottle, there is a wide selection of half bottles, and a good variety of wines by the glass, ranging upwards from £5 per glass. Service at the restaurant was very good, attentive but unobtrusive. This restaurant is well deserving of its Michelin star status, the food is amazingly good. Similarly it justly deserves the 2009 Restaurant Wine List Award of Excellence recently given by Wine Spectator magazine. Unlike many Michelin starred restaurants, Quilon is very affordable and in our view, it is a must to visit.