Kutir restaurant review: If it's good enough for James Bond...
With truffle and quail egg naans and one of the finest renditions of a tikka masala, Ibrahim Salha thinks the latest high-end Indian restaurant could be a Michelin hit
There’s very few people I’d encounter in a restaurant and immediately want to order the same dishes they’re eating. No ordinary member of the public, at least. But when you spot a former James Bond in the dining room, then it goes without saying that you should at least enquire as to what they ordered.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: the restaurant staff shouldn’t be telling you that sort of thing! GDPR! However, if it’s good enough for Bond, then it’s probably good enough for you.
The restaurant in question is the latest from chef Rohit Ghai, formerly of Jamavar in Mayfair, where he earned a Michelin star.
He’s now gone a few Tube stops west and opened Kutir in Chelsea and has similar Michelin aspirations. If you weren’t told that here then a quick scan of the menu would probably help reveal that; quail naan with truffle, a £65 per person tasting menu and an impressive wine list make it eminently obvious. You also have to ring a doorbell to get in before walking into a dining room that is more like a private member’s club than a regular restaurant.
The other thing you’ll notice is how much game is on both the a la carte and tasting menus. That said, it’s the aforementioned quail naan which really draws us in and I imagine it’s the dish you’ll be hearing the most about. Topped with scrambled quail eggs and slithers of shaved truffle, it certainly looks the part on arrival. And while it’s subtly delicious, it’s overshadowed by the other dishes we tried.
The prawn masala, in particular, is a memorable dish and one to come back for. Crispy prawns that have soaked up a spicy and fragrant sauce are topped with coconut, alongside cubed Roscoff onion which adds a deliciously sweet and sour note. Lamb chops (a Bond copycat) are also magnificent, served blushing pink and showing a great touch at the tandoor. However, the lamb chops are shortly outshone by the nargisi kofta, hard boiled eggs covered in lamb and deep fried (thanks again, Bond).
Now I know what you’re thinking: it sounds like a scotch egg. Which it does. It also looks like a scotch egg. But have you ever had a scotch egg sitting in a curry with bone marrow, ready to be eaten with a flaky paratha on the side? Thought not. A must order when you come here.
Mains range from pan-seared sea bass to a 24-hour cooked lamb shoulder with offal samosa, but it’s the chicken tikka masala (the final Bond dish) which jumps out from the menu. It’s a great version, rightly listed under “classics” here, with no real bells and whistles – one of the finest renditions of a tikka masala you’re likely to find in London. It’s particularly good paired with the bread basket, which features a garlic naan and some more of that brilliant paratha.
Less good was the duck korma, which suffered from being a bit too korma and not enough duck; the sauce was surprisingly bland and masked other flavours from the dish which not even the pickled swede could help. It can often be a good idea to stick to the classics.
If you’re not too full at this stage then desserts are worth a mention, especially the chocolate and banana, which is superbly rich with Valrhona. It could do with more banana flavour in the accompanying creme brûlée but is immensely satisfying to eat.
The bhappa doi, a steamed yoghurt pudding, is slightly too subtle but cleanses your palate after the bigger flavours that come before it.
This same area recently witnessed the opening of another Indian restaurant with similar Michelin aspirations, Kahani. I’m not sure which I’d choose if I had to, but it’s certainly good to have the option. Whether or not Kutir impresses the Michelin inspectors remains to be seen, but Ghai certainly has a prospective hit on his hands.
Kutir (kutir.co.uk); 10 Lincoln St, Chelsea, London SW3 2TS; 020 7581 1144; open 12-2:30pm and 5:30-10:30pm Tuesday-Saturday, 5:30-10pm Sunday