London leads the way in offering its demanding restaurant-goers high-end Indian establishments, and after my recent trip to Mint Leaf there’s another one to add to the list.
The underground bar and dining room has a distinctly dark, clubby feel to it, and even at 7pm on a wet Wednesday there was a great buzz about the place. Panelled walls, gorgeous dark wood furniture and moody, coloured lighting makes for a handsome room, and the dinner we enjoyed was certainly as smart as its home.
Cocktails to start were a little disappointing and uninspired, but served by a waiter so charming almost all was forgiven.
Starters were a step in a very tasty direction, with date-stuffed tandoor paneer a chunky, sweet and smokey version of one of my favourites. Garlic and thyme roasted chicken was creamy and succulent and the cucumber raita it was served with was delightful.
Mains were consistently good and again it was the paneer which shone. Swathed in a butter masala sauce it was a heavyweight dish which the robust cheese was perfect for.
Black Cod in the capital is often done incredibly well, and while I wouldn’t quite place this one amongst the best, it was still a generous hunk of flaky, lightly spiced fish.
Sides of a peshawari naan and stir fried okra with water chestnuts were welcome additions to the meal, the okra in particular punctuating the plate with some bite and crunch.
Classically Indian desserts don’t translate well in the West, but the pistachio kulfi was a gorgeous, nutty and cooling end to the rich meal. Served with a great 2009 Muscat, this wine list is certainly not amateurish. Indian food and wine matching is notoriously difficult, but the list and knowledge of the staff here mean it shouldn’t be too tricky to get spot on.
There was a mix of client dinners, parties and couples here making it one of the most varied dining rooms of this calibre I’ve seen in a long time. If authentic Indian food and a party atmosphere are what you’re looking for, Mint Leaf may just be right up your street.
Bon Vivant’s members will receive a complimentary glass of champagne when they dine in the Mint Leaf restaurant.
Address: Mint Leaf Restaurant & Bar, Suffolk Place, Haymarket, London SW1Y 4HX
Phone: 020 7930 9020
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