Once home to a frighteningly expensive tasting-menu-only restaurant from chef Vineet Bhatia (which famously closed within a week of gaining a Michelin star), this townhouse, on a quiet Chelsea street, has been reborn as Kutir. It’s still a smart Indian – though cheaper than its predecessor – and is the first solo project from Rohit Ghai, one-time exec chef of JKS restaurants (Trishna, Gymkhana, Hoppers), Bombay Bustle and Jamavar. That’s one hell of a pedigree.
Unsurprisingly, the food at Kutir is excellent. It’s modern Indian but not faddish. Prettily plated, but not excessively cheffy. In short: just right. You’ll struggle to order badly, but there were a few dishes that stood out. Like the sea bass curry, thick with plump mussels, heavy coconut cream and the mustardy kick of curry leaves. Which, at £16 for a main, was a steal. Another ace curry, officially a small plate, was made with nargisi kofta (minced spiced lamb and hard-boiled eggs), flecked with shimmering bone marrow. There was a yoghurty, herby fillet of tandoori stone bass, with curls of crunchy squid and a dense underblanket of squid-ink rice. The breads were brilliant. As was the dhal. But please, pace yourself. Or you’ll have to skip dessert. Which would be a shame, as the layered sago pudding, an exhibition of textures from set yoghurt to honeycomb to coulis, was dazzling.
Best of all, Kutir is atmospheric. On the night of my visit, the intimate front room, a mix of Georgian splendour and sumptuous furnishings, was full of cheery thirtysomething pals and the odd dinner duo, wondering why their date was suddenly so attractive (thanks, low lighting). Kutir: a new destination for Chelsea.