Enter through a tiny doorway just off busy Regent Street and a lift takes you up to a first-floor dining room with windows looking on to the retail chaos below. Veeraswamy has an air of granny’s posh drawing room about it – if granny’s family were royalty, that is. Tinted glass lamps, sepia-tinted photos of the Raj and plush carpets make the whole thing feel a little 1970s, in a retro-cool sort of way. The restaurant opened in 1926 and its owners’ portfolio now includes Chutney Mary, Amaya and the Masala Zone chain.
Glitzy surroundings aside, the food is, in the main, outstanding. A starter of meltingly soft paneer layered with green herbs and warming spices arrives gently charred from the tandoor. The spicy paste on the perfectly pink amritsari lamb chops is authentically heavy on the ginger and garlic. A tiny portion of gulab jamun provides a perfect end to the meal. The only thing that jars is the cost. A fairly average bottle of red wine is priced at £34 and, moist and moreish though our chicken biriani was, all the ‘aged basmati’ in the world would never justify its £23 price tag.