Sunday, May 14, 2006

dinner at the quilon

we find ourselves eating out at many more indian restaurants in london than we did in either san francisco or new york. so far we haven't been disappointed. in fact, every restaurant that we have tried thus far has something unique that will make us want to go back for another experience. chutney mary on king's road in fulham has a terrific sunday brunch menu. amaya in knightsbridge has a youthful, trendy vibe and i adore their grilled dishes. cinnamon club in westminister is great for a candlelight dinner. and masala zone has delicious desi street foods.

last night we ate a very memorable meal at the quilon in the crowne plaza london st.james near buckingham palace. the hotel is owned by the taj group and hence the ambience, food and service are all of a very high standard. the restaurant's signature drink is the spicy tomato rasam served in a white wine glass.

h's uncle who was staying at the hotel treated us to a special dinner prepared by head chef sridhar just for us. sridhar is one of the top chefs from india who is best known for having conceptualised and run the karavali restaurant. he has been at the head of the quilon since 1999 and has really carved out a name for himself in the london scene making quilon one of the most consistently top-rated restaurants in the city.

the quilon specialises in south indian coastal cuisine. think aviyal, appam, malabar curry, lobster, prawn, lots of black pepper. the food is a combination of traditional dishes and nouveau fare inspired from the ingredients and spices found in what is probably the most exotic part of india.

sridhar started us off with a vegetarian plate with the spice level increasing leftwards. between sips of sancerre to make sure the spice didn't get to me too much, i made my way slowly from left to right relishing the char-grilled asparagus with crushed pepper and garlic butter sauce, the banana flower vada with ginger thokku and cauliflower chilli fry. the flavours of each item on the starter plate were unique and really delightful to the senses. i really enjoyed the crushed pepper and garlic butter sauce which i think would be good on may grilled veggies.

having stuffed myself on the starters, i didn't have much room for the main course so i ended up just having a few bites of each of the dishes presented - crispy okra (thinly sliced, batter fried and tossed in onion, tomato and crushed pepper), baby aubergine masala, cabbage poriyal and aviyal - along with half of a malabar paratha and half of an appam.

dessert was a bowl of freshly cubed alphonso mangoes and rasamalai :)

i highly recommend the quilon if you are looking for some change from the regular north indian fare at most indian restaurants.


Anonymous DangIt said...

Vazhapu vadai. Lulu, now you have done it. Where do i get vazhapu in seattle?

10:16 pm  
Anonymous Sandeep said...

Groan.... if a growing boy like me had to have food, what do I do with the smear of avial in there?

I need a bucketful.

Note to self- dont eat Indian food like French.

12:59 pm  
Blogger cal said...

Mmm, that sounds amazing.

I know I offered to tempt you up to my neck of the woods with turkish grill and a fab street market, but we also have some great south Indian restaurants up here. The original Rasa's - veggie and meat (mainly fish) on opposite sides of the street, plus another Keralan restaurant. And there's a Malaysian restaurant too if you fancy Malaysian Indian food.

Guess you'll have to come for lunch and dinner.

8:59 pm  
Blogger 30in2005 said...

Upscale Indian food is so different from what you would get in a smaller more economical place - especially in London where the economical can be very hit and miss. A treat like Quilon sounds fab but dramatically expensive! You should try out the Saravana Bhawans in either East Ham or Wembley just for everyday tiffin south indian items. You won't be disappointed.

4:35 pm  
Blogger maya said...

Lulu - it's lunch time and I just read this amazing dinner you ate while I can only look forward to salty soup or mediocre chinese food or some tired looking salad at the cafeteria. Your blog needs some kind of Deliciousness warning on it!

7:51 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lulu,

I was out for dinner last night (in US though)...and dared to eat a banana flower vada! Thanks to your good words on the taste, I was able to muster courage to try something so unique. And it sure was awesome...jus didnt taste like a flower :)


3:04 pm  
Blogger Lulu said...

hi dangit,
your best best for vazhapu in seattle is probably one of the grocery stores in bellevue - i would try a place like apna bazar or bharat groceries.

hi cal,
would love to take you up on your offer soon. your neck of the woods sounds very enticing in terms of food options..unfortunately i am travelling way too much these days and all i feel like doing on weekends is catching up on sleep :)


11:32 pm  
Anonymous sindhuja said...

U sure have a good insight into different cuisine. I have been desperately been trying to look for green jackfruits( fanas/kathal) for some bhaji making process- no go. Any idea where can i get it in London, anybody???

12:39 pm  
Blogger anamika said...

Did you try the restaurant MALA. in London. It is in st Katherine's Dock. Love the food out there.

Also there is another restaurant called La porte des indes. It is located behind oxford street. near the Marble Arch tube.


10:05 pm  

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