Within a naan’s hurl of Oxford Street, Roti Chai deserved more custom on a midweek lunchtime. Not that the lucky office workers (some Indian, most not) who had discovered it down this little mews street were complaining.
The ground-floor ‘street kitchen’, with its utilitarian furniture and canteen vibe, is ideal for a swift midday feed – and the alert young multinational staff keep things pacy. The menu is modelled on those of urban India’s snack shacks, so you’ll find bhel pooris, samosas and a big portion of moist, light Gujarati dhokra sponge, topped with two relishes: tangy tamarind and spicy coconut (share one between two for a starter).
Larger dishes include ‘railway lamb curry’ with beautifully tender meat and potato in a rich gravy spiced with star anise and cinnamon bark, served with two wholemeal chapatis. Soupy tarka dahl was similarly full-flavoured.
In the basement, the newly opened, evening-only ‘dining room’ is a darker, sexier space. Here, prices rise considerably, with chettinad chicken costing £15.50 – not that the street kitchen is giveaway-cheap. Dhokra, lamb curry, dahl and a pot of lovely, rich leaf tea cost £23 with service, but such a lunch would have workers singing through the afternoon.