Chutney Mary

Restaurants, Indian St James'
Chutney Mary

The new location of this pioneering upscale Indian restaurant: astonishing quality, and wonderful service.

When Chutney Mary opened in Chelsea 25 years ago, it put refined Indian dining on London’s culinary map. It’s owned by the Panjabi sisters, who also run Veeraswamy, Amaya, the Masala Zone group, and Masala Grill. 

Relocated to St James’s in June 2015, it’s a plush set-up. A long bar by the entrance leads to a spacious, lavishly decorated dining area. Dining here isn’t cheap but the cooking is exemplary, offering classic dishes alongside lighter flavours. It’s a place for entertaining business colleagues, for romancing over a candlelit meal, or even to keep mid-afternoon hunger pangs at bay with chilli cheese toast and a  cold beer.

A dainty plate of chicken wings – is there such a thing? These were. Deboned fried meat was reassembled into neat cubes and then topped with a shard of browned skin and served on a syrupy pink puddle made from tart kokum (a dried fruit, used in a similar way to tamarind). A soupy rendition of nihari, a Mughal stew, was also top-drawer. Made with chicken instead of lamb, and sealed under a pastry crust, the rich, meaty broth unleashed a whoosh of spicy steam when the lid came off.

Grills go far beyond regular offerings. A reworked jardaloo masala showcased the tastes of the Parsee community, many of whom left Persia centuries ago to settle in India. In this version, a seared, pink-cooked duck breast was splendidly matched with caramelised onions, apricots (jardaloo) and jaggery (palm sugar), sharpened with ginger and vinegar, and topped with a tangle of potato straws.

The hit parade continued with lal maas from Rajasthan. This lighter take on a traditionally ghee-laden curry scored marks for its tender lamb morsels slow-cooked with garlicky browned onions, raunchy red chillies and charcoal-smoked cloves. 

If you’re having dessert, try the hot carrot halwa soufflé. Fudgy, milk-simmered cardamom carrots were transformed from a traditional winter warming Punjabi pud into an elegant finale. Service, as expected, doesn’t miss a beat. 

Despite Chutney Mary’s change of location, it doesn’t look as if  the sun will be setting any time soon on the Panjabis’ Indian restaurant empire. 

By: Roopa Gulati

Posted:

Venue name: Chutney Mary
Address: 73 St James's Street
London
SW1A 1PH
Opening hours: Lunch served noon-2.15 Mon-Fri, 12.30-2.45pm Sat. Dinner served noon-11pm Mon-Sat. Bar open Mon-Sat noon-11pm.
Transport: Tube: Green Park.
Price: Meal for two with wine and service: around £170.
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I saw Chutney Mary at number 5 on the best restaurant in London list and decided to take my wife there for her birthday. This place is seriously impressive. The decor and dining room is a grand as you'd expect from a Mayfair venue. The cocktails are sublime especially the Mango Mojito which was potentially the finest cocktail I've ever had. And the food was a little bit special, if a little bit spicy for the wife. Its not cheap but it is worth it.