Located in the kind of grand Chelsea townhouse you can only ever dream of owning, you ring the doorbell to gain entry to Vineet Bhatia London.
“We’ve been expecting you Miss Smith”
With a welcome like that, I’m pretty much sold but fortunately that’s just the start of what can only be described as a fabulous evening. The décor is serious #housegoals with tasteful greys and yellows alongside pink salt rock candles and the cutest drinks trolley that we just wanted to take home.
Described as ‘progressive Indian’, Michelin-starred Chef-Patron Vineet Bhatia only offers a tasting menu and we were there to try his latest Summer incarnation, a selection of lighter, fresher dishes.
We began with a couple of expertly made cocktails, one of which contained a clear lassi washed gin which we’ve never seen anywhere else. It’s clear the sommelier goes to the ends of the earth to provide a thought provoking drinks flight with what is a notoriously difficult cuisine to match wine too.
This ‘Experience’ menu consists of a whopping 18 components but don’t worry, it’s not as overwhelming as it sounds. The first 8 are a steady stream of canape sized tasty morsels, which our friendly waitress guides us through, telling us which bit to eat first and with what. We began with the mind-bending butter chicken macaron which you half expect to be sweet but of course isn’t, washed down with a shot glass of palette cleansing watermelon ginger sharbat, with such a perfect foam top you almost don’t want to destroy it.
A black crispy cone housed tuna chaat, finished with a green swirl of avocado cream and simple, but decadent, deep filled goat’s cheese samosas arrived alongside. We loved the presentation of the next two bites. A porcelain egg, nestled in a bowl of hay, housed a creamy crab chutney complete with fake golden yolk, whilst a plump mushroom kofta arrived in a china egg box alongside dipping crackers – soldiers and egg style. The last of these canapes was a golden spoonful of prawn recheado – a spicy, hot and tangy orangey red concoction that was cooled by the lentil vada yoghurt.
The first of the more substantial mains – served in a slightly kitsch starfish shaped bowl – almost had a Mediterranean influence with juicy octopus and cod on a swirl of mash with delicate crackers that resembled orange coral. Perhaps winning the award for prettiest dish of the night (no mean feat) was the lobster and crayfish served with a steamed blue pea flower Idli donut and edible flowers. We could have eaten a whole plate of the pastry enclosed kheema bombs, but we’re glad we made room for the chicken maharani, a slightly spicy dish served with samphire and perfectly placed, peppery nasturtium leaves.
Palettes cleansed with a yuzu sorbet, we have the most comforting – a classy – take on a rasgulla. Typically a very sweet, spongy dessert, here Bhatia presents us with a lavender version, topped with a dark chocolate disk, pistachios and doused with a bailey’s infused custard. The rest of the desserts were petit fours and include Chai Fudge, Black Cardamom Chocolate and Banana Butterscotch Shrikhand.
Despite this utter feast, we left feeling completely full but without despising ourselves.
With many Indian restaurants in London claiming a ‘contemporary’ experience, it’s worth saying this was unlike anything else out there. Vineet Bhatia is genuinely a unique and utterly joyful experience. Sure, this is special occasion food, but the £105 a head price tag is without a doubt justified. So who’s birthday is it next?