Lokhandwala in Fitzrovia
Lokhandwala is a somewhat mysterious and intriguing restaurant nestled in the heart of Charlotte Street. Walking inside, you find yourself in a charming setting, decked out with opulent interiors and leaving you feeling like you’ve stepped through to another time. Once you’re sat down and handed menus, all becomes clear as some context is given to your surroundings through a detailed narrative of how a young Lady Charlotte Louisa Fitzrovia fled to Mumbai for love before returning to 93 Charlotte Street to live out the rest of her days. So it comes as no surprise that the food offer has taken on an Anglo-Indian theme and seeks to combine the best of both worlds. This became apparent as our eyes skimmed down the menu, spotting dishes such as Masaledar Fish and Chips, Yorkshire Pudding Lokhandwala Style and Blue Stilton Naan with Truffle Oil.
Tapas, often associated with its Spanish roots, has since been adopted by various other cuisines from around the world. And while this concept is nothing new, it needs to be pulled off well. The attentive waiters were happy to answer our questions, even when the restaurant started filling up for the evening rush. The cocktail list was impressive, with carefully thought-out concoctions that strayed from your usual selection. We ordered The Star of India, made from herb-infused Bombay Sapphire, mango, orange, turmeric and lemon which resulted in a fruity, warm and spicy cocktail that wasn’t too sweet. We also tried The Viceroy, another gin-driven cocktail, made with apricot sweet and bitters, star anise syrup, fresh lemon and egg white – an interesting blend of flavours with a bitter aftertaste. At £12 a go, you expect the drinks to pack a punch and you’re not disappointed. Again, a short narrative is included in the menu alongside the description of the cocktail, staying true to the storytelling theme.
The Indi Mezze Platter seemed a solid place to start and included aubergine bharta, beetroot pachadi, cucumber raita, okra kurkure and a mini garlic naan. The okra was the clear winner – beautifully seasoned and just the right combination of chewy and crunchy. However, the aubergine was a little on the small side and presented itself as more of a dip. Next up were the Lamb Chops, which had been marinated for 24 hours. This was by far the dish of the night and proved that Lokhandwala do simple food really well. The meat was sweet, succulent and melted in the mouth within a few seconds. They were also seasoned to perfection, just enough to set off the flavour of the meat without overpowering it.
The Coconut and Curry Leaf Chicken served with seed bread was tender and held the flavours well. Slightly sweetened by the coconut while giving off that unmistakable curry flavour, it was a pleasant course and veered towards a more traditional style. I was really excited to try The Masaledar Fish and Chips which used sea bass as its fish of choice and was served with chips and a masala sauce. The delicate, fragrant flakes of fish were flawlessly encased in a light and crunchy batter, which made for a delicious dish. However, the intended Indian twist was lost, which left this one a little out of place for me.
The sides were extremely tempting and the Blue Stilton Naan with Truffle Oil immediately caught my eye. The cheese was more subtle than anticipated and added a rich, indulgent element, set off nicely with just a dash of truffle oil.
As mentioned earlier, the service was excellent. However, the experience proved a little hectic as all the plates were brought out at once, which then became a bit of juggling act when it came to fitting everything on the table. Staggering the dishes would have solved this as we were conscious of eating at a pace so the food didn’t get cold. In terms of value, it varied course by course, with the larger servings providing a satisfactory amount for what you would pay. Overall, the meal was tasty, beautifully presented and the dining style suits those that like to spend an evening chatting away and savouring a variety of inventive dishes.★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Alex Woods/Lokhandwala
To book a table at Lokhandwala, 93 Charlotte St London W1T 4PY, call 020 7637 7599 or visit their website here.