Restaurant Review | Chutney Mary's

Brits show us how Indian is done at Chutney Mary's in King's Road, London. 

 

My love affair with Indian food started not long after leaving school; my best friend and I felt all grown up hanging out on the King’s Road in our stripy mod blazers and dogtooth miniskirts, and on one occasion, we ended up for dinner in the newly opened place to be, Chutney Mary’s. Going through the swivel door earlier this week wound back time to that first visit, 20 years ago, though now I know about matching patterns even if my taste in music hasn’t moved on much.

I’d be lying if I said I could remember the original interior but today, the entrance welcomes you from a grey London day with a warm, gorgeous spice colours. Colonial wicker sofas with rich ochre, amber and paprika cushions in different textures. I nested myself here, relaxing to the funked-up Enya style music, with a cardamom and berry vodka cocktail waiting for my wise friend to arrive while mulling over the menu and chatting to the receptionists in between the many other guests arriving.

When the wise one arrived we were taken downstairs past some mosaic mirror glass panels which resembled bubble wrap (and were way too tempting not to run my hands across) and shown to our table which was in a conservatory with lush plants. The restaurant was busy; and it is not a small place. I was impressed that after so long, it had maintained its popularity, but not at all surprised.

The current menu had a wide range on offer, and unlike the stereotypical image, few were graded hot. Indian food is more about layering of spices, the hot hot hot chilli obsession is an English thing which many of our local restaurants subscribe to, due the ‘nature’ of their patrons. Chutney Mary’s indeed, offers a tasting menu which was not only good for the uninitiated, but also tempted us veterans on more than one count. The menu included choices to satisfy carnivorous carnivores, pernickety pescetarians and versatile vegetarians with chicken to lobster, scallops and duck and many others in between; even asparagus and pumpkin don’t escape thier vast spice rack.  Flavours ranged from Goan to Sailanan specialities, and there are also tasting platters for the curries and kebab selection.

There was no advance sighting of the dessert menu but even so, we ordered a handful of dishes. Having done Selfridges earlier in the day, I needed sustenance to replace the used calorie traipsing and changing and traipsing a bit more. Our starters were English new season spring lamb chop with chilli and coriander (£14 ) and we had a   vegetarian platter which included a morel stuffed with cheese, Paneer seekh, and almond and white pumpkin Tikki (£9).  I was intrigued by an item called Tokri Chaat (£8.50)which is a straw potato basket filled with street food favorites, strained yoghurt and chutneys. This was not only breathtaking to look at, but gob smackingly delicious, I would fly back just for this, I kid you not.

 

When ordering mains at an Indian retsaurant, I always start with the accompaniments. This time, the ‘purple clouds’ (£5) seduced me, they were a bit of a twist in parmegana, with aubergine, tomato and yoghurt, so pretty and cooked well so that they melted in the mouth. We also had some green apple raita (£4) because I was inquisitive, and I’m glad I was, fresh and smooth, I’ll certainly be trying this variation at home. And of course there were crispy pickled potatoes (£5). Delicious. The meat decision was a tough one. There were a number I fancied, for instance the Kerala Pepper Roast Duck; Gressingham duck breast served pink, cooked with cinnamon, coconut and black pepper sauce with a curious sweet potato crumble, or there was the slow roasted lamb shank with 21 spices and coriander mash... We somehow decided and opted for the butter chicken (£16.50) which is cooked Tandoori style in a spiced caramelised tomato sauce, and ignoring the rules of nudge, ordered another chicken dish which apparently was served at the Sailana palace (£16.50), and cooked with caramelised onion, orange, Kashmiri chilli and fresh tumeric. I did feel a bit like royalty. Of course we had to have peshwari naan (in fact we should have ordered double) and rice which came in a pot that is now on my wish list. 4 of please. When everything arrived we thought we had over ordered, our heads doing the Wimbledon watching thing, going from side to side, dish to dish. However, we didn’t leave a smidge on any of the serving platters and therefore it was decreed that we deserved desserts.

 

We had a beautifully presented black cherry kulfi (£6.75) and a buttermilk rhubarb ice cream. Both soothing and smooth. To end the evening I chose a flowering tea – a lavender green variety which was as pretty as it sounds. In fact, I have only one niggle about Chutney Mary’s; and that is that it’s in London and not here.

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