There are some restaurants that we’ve been meaning to visit for such a long time but for one reason or another, have just never got round too. Maybe it’s because they are such a safe bet, with such a great reputation you just presume they’ll always be around. Nearly 15 years old now, Mayfair’s Benares is one such restaurant. Proud owner of a Michelin star, chef-patron Atul Kochhar’s upmarket Indian restaurant, located by Berkeley Square is something of an institution.
We dined as guests of BuyAGift who, if you’re not familiar with, offer TONS of experiences for you to gift friends and family.
Now obviously we eat out quite a lot, but there was something a bit special about having a gift voucher to redeem. Firstly it makes you actually book it, then you look forward to it and on the day we found ourselves getting that extra bit dressed up for the occasion (as opposed to rushing straight from work and doing our make up in the back of a cab).
We were a little nervous that we’d be made to feel cheap using a gift voucher in such a nice establishment but the staff were very discreet, and just asked us for the gift card as we were seated and it was never spoken off again. Phew.
There are date and time restrictions but we had a table at lunchtime on Saturday and the large subterranean dining room was both busy and buzzy with a good atmosphere.
We started with a seasonal Bellini and mini popadoms with unique chutneys, whilst we perused the three course set menu. There was a choice of three options per course with additional sides and snacks available to add on and a wine pairing duo priced at £16 which we’d recommend if you can’t face tackling the substantial wine list.
To start we opted for layers of grilled courgette with punchy pickled artichoke on a quinoa salad with a smudge of avocado purée. Fishcakes were made more luxe with a combination of Scottish salmon and green onion, sundried tomato and garlic raita.
Moving on to our main course, the Goan prawn ‘curry’ was a fresh summery affair with each juicy prawn perched on top of the fragrant yellow sauce with a side of pickled slaw. Corn-fed chicken had been expertly marinated and was tasty if a little safe, served with a simple salad. Mains are all served with soothing lentils, pillow soft Tandoori bread and plenty of rice.
To finish, the decadent dark chocolate tart had Japanese influences, served with matcha tea ice-cream.
Priced at £35 a head, you’re essentially getting a free cocktail when you book through BuyAGift but the real draw is ensuring you’re recipient will experience something special, perhaps for a celebration or simply just because. Perfect for that person you know who has everything.