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.