Introductions about my blog or talking about my love affair with Indian food. This is one review which needs none of that, but instead an opening statement getting straight to the point – “Kutir is the best Indian restaurant in London”. It took a lot of thinking and deciding, but I’ve come to that conclusion and it’s going to be hard to find somewhere else in London just as good.
This former townhouse takes over the site of what was formerly Rasoi, which then transformed into Vineet Bhatia – both of the same chef and both I loved. It was sad to see it close, but its latest replacement has done this site some serious justice and it’s already looking fantastic from the outside.
Inside it’s just as stunning, with the restaurants decor taking inspiration from its name, Kutir – which means ‘a small cottage in the middle of nowhere’. Florals, foliage, mint greens and rich reds with copper accents. It’s beautiful, calming and a fantastic backdrop for the menu which is looked after by Michelin-starred chef Rohit Ghai, whilst Abhishake Sangwan (both previously Jamavar and Gymkhana) is looking after front of house and cocktails.
Talking of cocktails, they were Michelin starred creations in themselves. So simple, but so refined. My favourite was the ‘Sariska’, a mix of gin, sweet basil, lavender bitter, ginger and activated charcoal. Very heady, but very well executed. Equally as good was the ‘Madhosh’. A blend of peated scotch, brandy, calvados, honey and vermouth rosso. It was like the whiskey version of a Negroni and something I’ll be trying to recreate at home.
Still trying to make up my mind on what to eat, papadums arrived and a small amuse bouche selection. The papadums were stunning. Crunchy, a good selection and not an ounce of residue oil in sight. The little bites were stunning too, starting with chicken tikka paste encased in filo pastry, finishing with a spiced aubergine deep-fried bite.
To get a real sense of the cooking here, we ordered one non-vegetarian and one vegetarian tasting menu between us. There are 3 menu options to choose from in total. A la carte, set menus and ‘Expeditions’. The latter consisting of 3 tasting menus showcasing dishes that would be served up at royal hunting expeditions in India, with an emphasis on game and seafood. First out was the aloo tikki with honey yoghurt which smelt just as good as it looked. Two crisp potato cakes on a bed of spiced peas and smothered with yoghurt, tamarind chutney and pomegranate seeds. It was outstanding.
Better still and much to my surprise was the dhokla. It’s the one Indian food I’ve never really fallen in love with, but that’s all changed. Dhokla, if you don’t know is a steamed savoury cake from India, usually served for breakfast or as a snack. Here it’s the best version I’ve ever tried, served with dollops of chutney, poached apples and beetroot.
I was so glad to see paneer on the menu and I was even happier when I took my first bite as they’ve really done the cheese justice. Stuffed, smothered in a green tikka style marinade which was oh-so smokey and topped with sweetcorn. I wasn’t too happy when I saw the popcorn as I usually don’t enjoy it with anything, but in fact it really worked with this dish.
Every dish here was practically faultless, but if I had to pick my one slight disappointment it would be this single hand-dived scallop. The actual quality and the cooking of it was faultless, but I felt the bed of spiced aubergine and aubergine fritter topping could have been toned down flavour wise ever so slightly as I really wanted to taste that purity of the scallop.
Broccoli khasra. For anyone vegetarian or not, this was a very exciting dish which could easily turn me vegetarian for life if I was promised them every day. Filo pastry parcels, filled with a smokey broccoli mixture and dollops of beetroot and pickled cauliflower. I absolutely loved this dish and anyone coming here for the vegetarian menu is very lucky indeed.
I had far too many dishes to pick my favourite, but one of them was this stone bass with squid. It was probably the most unassuming to look at, but it gave the most in terms of flavour and cooking. The fish, marinated in some sort of yoghurt, herb and spice mixture (almost like a tikka paste) was served alongside rings of crispy squid and a spoonful of squid ink rice. Such an exquisite dish which I ate so slowly to make sure it lasted as long as possible.
If there was a dish that’s most likely to become Kutir’s most talked about, it will be this truffle mushroom khichadi. Essentially an Indian risotto, this was something that really got us excited. Thick rice and lentils, an incredible amount of glossy butter, lots of wild mushrooms and generous shavings of black truffle. It’s very rich, so arrive hungry.
One of my many other star dishes was the tandoori lamb chop smothered in a black cumin marinade which helped develop some nice blackened edges and smokey flavour whilst cooking. The lamb was so perfectly cooked, pink in the middle and the flavour from the outside ran all the way through the middle. Is this the best lamb chop I’ve ever eaten? I think it might well be and I’m coming back for more.
Buttery naans, a chicken tikka style curry and a smokey Kutir kali dal. We had barely any room by this point, but in the name of research with did it our best. I wasn’t madly in love with the dal if being honest, but that chicken curry was very special.
Desserts, well we had many of them, some even in liquid form – but my favourite was the banana and honey Valrhona chocolate chilli mousse with deep fried banana nuggets and caramel sauce.
To accompany the decadent chocolate dessert we sipped another expertly crafted cocktail, or liquid dessert should I say – this time an ‘Angdaai’ (aka espresso martini) which was hand on heart the best version I’ve had to date and I’ve sipped on 100’s. Vodka, chocolate & coffee rum mix, cold brew, coffee amaro and cream. It was seriously impressive and it really caught me by surprise.
We finished on some little chocolate cake bites and left feeling incredibly full, but wishing we were already coming back for yet another tasting menu. We had such a lovely time at Kutir and as I previously mentioned, this was the best Indian meal I’ve had in London to date. It’s modern, exciting, surprising and will no doubt be winning many awards over the next year. What’s even more exciting are the prices, it’s very accessible for such a level of cooking which I love and hope they don’t change that too much. Kutir – we’ll see you very soon.
NB: My meal was complimentary. All views are as always, my own. My views are not influenced by anyone other than my own palate and slightly poor eyesight.