By Maria Fedele
Concealed amongst the residential dwellings on a side street a stone’s throw away from opulent Sloane Square in Chelsea, behind the blue door of Number 10 Lincoln Street, is one of London’s newest best-kept secrets.
To describe Vineet Bhatia London as just another restaurant would be a gross injustice. Upon ringing the doorbell, you will definitely not be escorted into a conventional Indian eatery, but rather transported into an all-encompassing dining experience. In fact, it is best to simply leave all your instilled notions about Indian cuisine at that blue door, because what awaits inside is something truly phenomenal from the ingenious mind of internationally celebrated chef, Vineet Bhatia.
Kenny, the manager, answers the shrill of the doorbell, courteously ushering us into the townhouse which he explains is reflective of dining at the chef’s own home. Indeed, the décor makes you feel delightfully welcomed and instantly comfortable. Bathed in dim lighting and hues of grey, finished with sleek marble and glossy brass fittings, the dining rooms are a beautiful balance of elegance and warmth. At the same time, the modestly refined details really compliment the setting – Himalayan salt candles adorn each table, the furniture is sheathed in drops of vivid greens and sunflower yellows, and intricate tiling covers the floors.
Every Dish Tells a Story
And so begins an 11-course tasting menu which, much like the décor, is big on details. Vineet Bhatia has carefully concocted his decadent menu to perfection, fashioning together an experience that weaves through each course effortlessly. Every dish tells a story, a culinary journey that exemplifies the magnificent creativity of the chef and narrates the evolution of Indian cuisine. I opted for the vegetarian and my companion selected the traditional menu which, although overwhelming at first, is comprised of four bite-sized dishes followed by mains and desserts.
The absolute highlights from the entrées include the watermelon ginger sharbat with butter chicken macaroon, bhel chaat with goat’s cheese samosa, and the crab chutney partnered with mushroom kofta. Each dish is rich in flavour, a complimentary mix of sweet and savoury ingredients that culminate to produce a perfectly delectable balance.
The main dishes are also divine. Fish cooked to tender perfection, the meats are delicately seared and vegetables marinated in the most sublime spices, all without forfeiting the unique characteristics of Indian cuisine. Specifically, the butterbean broccoli, chicken maharani and lobster with crayfish were truly superb. The broccoli dish was an explosion of colours and textures, served with beautiful edible flowers and glazed with a creamy sauce. Arranged on a starfish shaped plate, the lobster and crayfish course was indeed spectacularly charming and the seafood was cooked to perfection, so much so that it gently falls apart and melts in your mouth at each bite. Drizzled in a faintly spicy sauce with notes of coconut and turmeric, it offset the robustness of the lobster and crayfish wonderfully.
The most outstanding dish from the main courses, and perhaps the entire menu, was the lamb kheema bomb. The tenderness of the lamb was exquisitely balanced with the crust of the outer encasing, which sealed in the heavenly flavours and divine sauces.
Modern Indian Cuisine
Each course of this exceptional dining experience has been expertly matched with wines that accentuate and enhance the heart of the dishes. A glass of limited edition Verve Clicquot Extra Brut etches out the lavishness of the crayfish and lobster dish. The delightful strawberry and raspberry tones blended with subtle spices of the 2016 Massaya Rose from the Bequaa Valley harmonizes well with and brings a crisp finish to the paneer maharani. To accompany dessert, a glass of the sweet 2015 Elysium, Black Muscat from California with its rose-like aroma, dark cherry and ripe fig flavours matches with the rich yuzu sorbet, lavender rasgulla and selection of decadent petit fours which were presented for the final course.
The dining experience is all tied together by the absolute professionalism and attention of the staff. From the very moment we stepped through the threshold of that bright blue door to the final tour of the upstairs private dining rooms, the service was nothing short of impeccable. Charming, friendly waiters anticipate any requests with the right balance of formality and persona. Well-versed in the intricate menu and extremely knowledgeable about each of the 11 courses, the staff vividly recount the narrative of Vineet Bhatia’s culinary masterpiece.
Simply put, Vineet Bhatia London is an exceptional take on modern Indian cuisine, fused with innovative, rich and delectable flavours all enhanced by flawlessly paired wines.
Learn more at www.vineetbhatia.com.