With its polished marble and burnished brass, racing-green velvet banquettes and Loro Piana soft lighting, Indian Accent is the newest of the Mayfair Mughals, breathing the same rarefied, cardamom-scented air as Gymkhana, Jamavar and Benares.
Forget the flock wallpaper, draft Cobra and tinny sitar soundtrack of your local curry palace. Here, jazz trills, single malts gleam and waiters don’t so much walk as glide. Prices are, as you’d expect, Himalayan-high.
But while all four share a slick, resolutely modern approach to the food of the subcontinent, Indian Accent goes further still. In that it manages to both respect regional culinary traditions and be thrustingly modern too.
The flavours may be familiar, but the combinations and presentation are unashamedly haute. Take the pre-lunch freebie, so often arriving unbidden, and departing untouched. Here, though, is a tiny mug of pumpkin and coconut chorba, containing a broth of gently spiced delight. There’s a purist precision to the dish, and a glorious depth and, better still, it comes with a tiny and exquisite piece of blistered blue cheese naan.
Every dish and detail is precisely honed. This is a kitchen that wields spice like a ruby-studded scimitar, yet knows exactly when to hold back. Strident when needed, but never overbearing
With its polished marble and burnished brass, racing-green velvet banquettes and Loro Piana soft lighting, Indian Accent is the newest of the Mayfair Mughals
Chaat masala, that ubiquitous and brittle street snack, is here transformed into a delicate basket filled with soft white pea mash and decorated with lashings of lactic yogurt, ribbons of tart tamarind and a verdantly green herbal sauce. So the spirit of the original dish is intact, but it’s catapulted firmly into the 21st Century. Dal moradabadi is regally rich, with shards of crunchy raw onion and crisp strands of sev, and a low, languorous chilli burn. As ever, the spicing is spot on, knowing but never overdone.
In another dish, phulka, or roti, is used like a small, puffy taco and slathered with a punchy, perfumed pulled pork. Mexico by way of Madras.
And there are similar cross-cultural combinations, with a main course of ghee roast lamb, splendidly soft and piled, Peking duck style, into transparently thin, chewy roomali roti pancakes. There’s a chilli puree, and a brisk, sour raita, and sweetish hoisin-style chutney, and cucumber shavings, a not-so-sly sly nod to the Desi, Sino-Indian dishes of Calcutta. Once again, influences come from across the globe, but are blessed with a resolutely Indian soul.
A single pork rib, hewn from a well brought-up swine, comes marinated in a sharp and sweet chutney. Onion seeds and dried mango add bite and complexity, while the flesh teeters wonderfully between firm and soft. Beef laal maas is robustly Rajasthani, with strident chilli burn, a cool lick of parmesan-infused yogurt, and a handful of crisp potato sticks. Texture here is every bit as important as taste. Fish is treated with equal care. A spankingly fresh prawn is coated in semolina and artfully fried, with an equally pristine scallop and rice dotted with chewily saline dried shrimp. It’s subtle and elegant, a gentle piscine delight.
Oh, and then there’s the bread, some of the finest I’ve ever eaten. Who could not be moved by kulcha, Punjabi flatbread, stuffed with butter chicken, the very definition of post-pub bliss? I’d eat that filling by the vat-load. And another, studded with wonderful black pudding, gentle and rich.
Pudding sees saffron-scented, whisky-spiked makhan malai piped out of a soda syphon, so the consistency is ephemerally light. With rose petal jaggery brittle, and roasted almonds and a scattering of edible gold bling. Mughal, then, to its core.
Every dish and detail is precisely honed. This is a kitchen that wields spice like a ruby-studded scimitar, yet knows exactly when to hold back. Strident when needed, but never overbearing. In fact, my only complaint is the size of each dish. The portions are often tiny, no more than a couple of bites. When the cooking is this good, we crave great bowls of the stuff, rather than dainty mouthfuls. I understand that this is 21st Century Indian. But please, sir, I want some more. Much more.
Still, Indian Accent mixes heavenly home cooking with the culinary cutting edge. It may have siblings in New Delhi and New York, but it offers further proof that London is home to some of the finest high-end Indian cooking on Earth. Benares led the way, followed by the brilliant Gymkhana and Jamavar. Subcontinental cookery, clad in Savile Row threads. Indian Accent is every bit as fine, and more radical still – edible Indian haute couture. In an overpriced and often underwhelming part of London, these Mayfair Mughals continue to rule.
£30 per head for three-course lunch menu
Source: Mail Online