Pan-Indian cooking, with expertly balanced spicing and a lightness of touch; seek gravitas in the ground-floor dining room, more date-appeal in the basement.
Class, poise, judgement: these words might well be embossed on Moti Mahal’s burnished copper bar, beside the serried ranks of expensive whiskies. This London outpost of Delhi’s celebrated restaurant group is geared to international business diners and priced accordingly. Weighty linen tablecloths, polished wooden flooring, an ambient soundtrack and a spotless open kitchen (viewed behind a curvaceous glass partition) lend gravitas to the ground-floor dining room – as do diligent, multinational staff and a bulky wine list. The basement, with its enveloping red-velvet banquettes, has more date-appeal.
The food? It’s moderately inventive pan-Indian, with expertly balanced spicing and a lightness of touch evident in the superb breads and rice. We were sad to see brain had slipped from the menu, but noted the varied choice of vegetarian dishes, including jackfruit in a roasted onion and coconut masala. Perfect salad specimens presented on a board with DIY spicing (in pestle and mortar) account for the £1.50 cover charge. An à la carte starter of crab and quail’s egg rolls had ample flavour and just-cooked zing, though the eggs were quite rubbery; a set-lunch main of gosht shakarkandi was like rogan josh, with beautifully tender lamb and dense, flavour-soaked chunks of sweet potato. Puddings are also worth exploring. You’ll get high-class cooking in impressive surroundings, but gastronomic adventurers might yearn for more thrills – and blench at the prices: £7.50 for a nondescript lassi, anyone?
In London, with Delhi-born Anirudh Arora at the helm, the restaurant focuses on the cuisine of the Grand Trunk Road, a unique concept on London's dining scene. The modern, stylish dining room features an exhibition tandoor kitchen that affords our guests a taste of the dramatic as they watch fascinating street-style tandoori chefs at work. Downstairs, the semi-private dining room offers more intimate moments, and accommodates larger groups.
The restaurant offers a wide selection of dishes which emphasise traditional techniques and an innovative style of grilling and sauté cookery. The menu is inspired by the people, colours and variety of flavours from India's famous Grand Trunk Road, celebrating dishes enjoyed by emperors and royalty, as well as recipes that have lived in family kitchens for generations.
The bar at Moti Mahal is a combination of original, contemporary and modern mixology, all based on homemade seasonal products and fresh ingredients. The own-brewed Grand Trunk Road Beer and Triple-Botanical Gin coupled with an exceptional range of wines complete a truly memorable beverage experience.