London is going gaga for game this year with special menus a-plenty. But forget fusty old fashioned recipes featuring classic British ingredients – Darbaar have blown the competition out of the water with their Indian game tasting menu inspired by the hunting traditions of Rajasthani royalty.
Slap bang in the heart of Shoreditch, just a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street station, the large dining room features an open plan kitchen where we watched our feast being prepared.
The menu begins with masala game fritters – spicy little deep fried balls, stuffed with minced game meat and served with cooling yoghurt and beetroot chutney. The Merlot it was paired with fuelled the spice, but don’t worry, it won’t completely blow your head off.
To follow, we tucked into Hunter-style partridge – served two ways – a beautifully marinated breast of partridge sat with a crunchy little leg, served on the bone alongside glazed pear (so we could sing ‘and a partridge in a peaaaaaar trreeeee’), which was most satisfying with a glass of chenin blanc. Our absolute favourite dish has to be the Rajasthani-spiced fillet of venison – SO juicy, SO delicious, it’s served with oven roasted root veg, cooked in the tandoori oven. Whilst the table was decorated with pots of black lentils, cucumber raita and garlic tandoori breads. We’ve never had such moist game – this is surely the best way to eat it.
Mango palette cleanser complete, we were ready for dessert, which didn’t let the side down. Spiced carrot cake was topped with a delicious splodge of cardamom shrikhand (strained yoghurt which created the effect of carrot cakes more tradish cream cheese – genius!) and topped with pistachio crumble.
Oh – we should mention, wine serves are LARGE. A little too large for a pairing menu if we’re being fussy, but hey, we’d prefer too big to too stingy.
We ended our evening with an expertly made Espresso Martini in the Lotus bar, via the bathroom – which we only mention for its heated seats.
We shouldn’t really compare but we’ve recently visited Michelin starred Benares and thought this blew it out of the water with more inventive flavours, a great value menu and an altogether more stylish dining room.
A top choice for work lunches and romantic evenings alike, the game menu will be available until the end of October, priced at £45 for 5 courses, with a wine pairing available for an additional £25.