Please note: Chutney Mary has closed as of 8 February; it will move to a more central location on 73 St James's Street, SW1A 1PH and will reopen in late April. A new restaurant from the same owners, called Masala Grill, will open on the former site in late March.
The spacious, light-filled conservatory at this swish establishment, set on the lower-ground floor of a modern block, is notable for its greenery – a contrast to the formal elegance of the main dining area with its sparkling glassware, silk cushions and crisp napery. Run by the Panjabi sisters (of Amaya, Veeraswamy and Masala Zone fame), Chutney Mary is popular with business diners on expense accounts and well-heeled Chelsea residents.
Prices can be eye-wateringly high, and although the pan-Indian cooking is good in parts, it isn’t always consistent. Service is also uneven. Crab balchao (flakes of crab meat tossed in a fried sweet-sour red chilli paste) was a fair rendition, yet arrived inexplicably glazed with cheddar cheese – a new-wave twist too far. Even the humble samosa was given a makeover: crisp pastry shaped into an open cone and filled with fried venison mince. Sadly, the meat had dried out and lacked any discernible spicing apart from a kick of chilli.
A splendid chicken biriani restored order, with fragrant rice, tender chicken thighs and a carefully honed masala spiked with just the right balance of green chilli, herbs and keora (floral screwpine essence). Overall, standards here seem to have dipped but you’ll still find occasional flashes of brilliance.