I never dreamed I’d open a restaurant on Garrick Street. I thought it was out of my reach, like opening somewhere in Buckingham Palace. Despite living longer in London than I did in India, I’ve always felt like a tourist in some places I visited as a child. Somehow, those memories don’t fade.
The first time I came here was on holiday in the ’80s. We’d planned it for years. I told my parents that when we saved enough to go to London, we must go to Covent Garden. I had this VHS of ‘My Fair Lady’ that I watched on repeat. The part in Covent Garden really excited me. My parents indulged me and we walked from Leicester Square to Covent Garden and on the corner of Garrick Street, there was a person dressed up as a flower girl. I couldn’t breathe! I felt like I’d been transported into the film.
Garrick Street still has that sense of magic for me. And now, that corner is where my new restaurant is. I cried when I got the keys: it all connected up, more than three decades apart. It’s a beautiful feeling when life comes full circle and you’re back on a street corner which meant so much to you years ago – and now it’s for a totally different reason.
Darjeeling Express is at 2A Garrick Street. Launch date TBC.
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