06 Dec An Impeccable Indian Cuisine Adventure At Benares
I headed to Benares in the heart of Mayfair, which offers a unique and inquisitive Indian cuisine with a British modern twist.
Benares is a sophisticated, Michelin-starred Indian restaurant located on the iconic Berkeley Square in Mayfair. It’s a short walk from Green Park station and boasts neighbours such as Rolls Royce, Bentley and the legendary private members club Annabel’s, to name but a few residents.
Spearheaded by the accomplished chef and TV personality Atul Kochhar, the cuisine served is a unique fusion of contemporary Indian dishes with a British twist. Kochhar’s rare talent as a twice Michelin starred chef has certainly altered the way diners perceive and experience Indian cuisine.
I was looking forward to sampling the acclaimed Indian fusion menu and discovering all it had to offer. A warm welcome and Namaste greeted me as I entered the inviting reception area before negotiating the ornate marble staircase to the bar and main dining area.
Softly deemed lighting, an alluring water feature filled with candles and flowers and comfortable velour chairs emphasised a very intimate look and feel with this stylish outpost. As I browsed through the cocktail menu, it was evident to see the inspiration from Atul Kochhar’s avant-garde cooking style jumping off the page with drink creations such as the Passion Fruit Chutney Martini and the Green Spice Martini. I opted for the lush and totally refreshing Coconut & Pineapple Lassi which was blissful.
The spacious dining area caters for 120 covers comfortably with more than enough room for guests to manoeuvre amongst tables. For those who prefer a little more privacy, there are four excellent private dining room areas to choose from that range in size and style for that all-important special occasion.
I had now been shown to my table within the main dining area which consists of refined white walls, soft spotlighting and dark deluxe woods. My waiter for the evening was Jose who was polite and personable and kindly guided me through the tasting menu that I had chosen to try.
Exploring the tantalising tasting menu whilst enjoying the delightful mini-poppadoms certainly began to whet my appetite. The poppadoms were exceedingly moreish and came with a selection of three tasty chutneys, which I had to tear myself away from after a little while. This indeed was a good sign and a positive start to the evening.
I started my culinary journey with an amuse bouche which was a warm potato and sweet potato prelude to the main event. Next was the Pan Seared Scallop Slow Roast Tomato, Pine Nut Podi with Indian Five Spice pickled Prawn. I really enjoyed this mouthwatering and well-seasoned scallop which sat front and centre on a bed of celeriac with pine nut podi. The array of spices worked well and the presentation of this dish was excellent.
This was swiftly followed by the distinctive Andhra Spiced Tandoori Guinea Fowl Leg, Pineapple Relish with Edamame and Fennel Raita. For those who love their chicken dishes, you’ll certainly appreciate the magical combination of pineapple relish with edamame which worked perfectly.
Next up was the Chargrilled Scottish Salmon, Coconut and Curry Leaf Sauce Cornish Crab Croquette with spiced Vermicelli. Fish lovers will adore this offering and I enjoyed the rich flavour of this dish too. The salmon was succulent and was complemented with a fragrant sauce of coconut, curry leaf and mustard seeds which was poured at the table. The Cornish crab croquette sat neatly upon a bed of tomato chutney and spiced vermicelli, and the half whirl of beetroot puree finished off this handsome plate nicely.
At this point of the meal, I started to feel full and wished I hadn’t had so many good tasting mini poppadoms to start. However, I still had two more dishes to go, so the iced sherbet palate cleanser arrived at just the right time, followed by a little pause before resuming my Indian food adventure. The iced sherbet had done the trick and I was now looking forward to the Roasted Rump of English Lamb, Tandoori Cutlet, Rogan Jus and Dal Makhani. As a lover of meat, this was the dish I was most looking forward to and it didn’t disappoint.
A perfectly cooked medium-well piece of rump was savoury to taste and beautifully presented too. This wonderful dish was accompanied by a creamy buttery selection of naan and flavoursome rice. This was by far my favourite dish which was simply incredible. Atul Kochhar has produced an appetising meat dish with a compelling spin that could probably convert a mild vegetarian into a meat eater, it’s that good.
For those with a sweet tooth, the Rose Bhapa Doi and Spiced Chocolate Lava Cake was a clever dessert combination that I found refreshing, satisfying, not too overwhelming and perfect in size and shape. A plate of pretty petit fours was introduced at the end of the evening and I could only manage a few due to being completely full to the brim from the outstanding meal I had just eaten.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Benares. It delivers on so many levels, from its exceptional cuisine and superb atmosphere, right through to its first-class service from the moment I arrived to the second I left.
For diners who haven’t had the opportunity to experience Benares as yet, then you really need to make this your next digestible destination. I am already looking forward to my return visit, so I may even see you there.