Modern Indian dining with a botanical themed menu
I am always intrigued by the concept of modern Indian and was drawn to this restaurant because of its unique menu. The restaurant is named after and their theme derived from a book titled Flora Indica by two botanists Joseph Hooker and Thomas Thomson. Located a short walk from Earls court station on Old Brompton Road, this stylish venue is fitting of its splendid surroundings.
I graduated with a degree in Lifesciences and have a natural interest in Botany and thanks to my Indian roots, I have a keen interest in Indian cuisine particularly the regional diversity. This is why I am always interested to see how traditional Indian food is interpreted either based on a theme such as this – Botanical and using British ingredients or fusion.
At first glance, the bold blue at the entrance and the prominently placed nameplate tend to draw people into this airy space. The huge lifesize blue telephone box immediately reminded me of The Tardis in Doctor Who and I think I was probably as excited as young Billy Piper was whooshing away into galaxies unknown!
Time travel to the Victorian era
The heavy metalwork and a large collection of objects ranging from botanicals stored in pretty glass jars to gas masks and an intricate network of copper and zinc pipes are a creative nod to the Victorian period. Imagine the excitement of the Scottish botanists as they journeyed through India all those years ago discovering exotic flora and fauna. Probably not in The Tardis though but just as exciting am sure.
The restaurant is very spacious with a seating of 30 on the ground floor and 70 in the plush downstairs area which is equally quirky in terms of decor.
As I made a wild dash to meet my friend, I had worked up a proper appetite by then, I found her seated sipping on an interesting herbal mocktail called Flavours of Indica. She described this mixture of pomegranate juice with coconut water, citrus and a homemade spice rub, as very refreshing. I picked a gin cocktail from their very unique cocktail menu. They have an extensive gin menu keeping in line with the botanical theme. Why not have a browse through her interesting blog post about her visit to a fine dining restaurant at Mayfair.
We decided to share some of the modern Indian small plates from the A la carte menu. The yellowfin tuna and baby leek dish was dressed in black and white sesame and chilli caviar – we both agreed that it was delicious.
The next dish, however, was our favourite – a soft shell crab coated in batter, Amritsari fish style and served with tadka mayo on a bed of mash made with King Edward potatoes.
The chef surprised us with an off-menu delight – crab cakes. Curried crab meat coated in a crunchy batter served with a tasty chilli tadka mayo.
For mains we shared a lovely selection of dishes, each one picking one curry dish. The rogan josh was perfectly cooked soft meat from a Suffolk lamb shoulder, slowly braised to release all its juices into the flavourful gravy sauce.
The corn-fed bergamot lemon chicken tikka was a very well-made dish. The creamy and makhani sauce demanded not to be left behind in the dish so we had to order some chilli garlic naan to mop it all up.
The beautifully presented basmati rice topped with pistachio and flavoured with fragrant kaffir lime leaf was very comforting, a great accompaniment to the curry dishes.
The sauteed curly kale and shredded Hispi cabbage side were a fabulous mix of flavours. Crunchy with strong undertones of ginger, enough to convert even the most determined kale sceptics.
Surprising how small plates tend to fill you up though, I do like this concept especially because it helps you monitor portion size.
Who can resist an offer for dessert and some much-needed dose of caffeine, especially in the later afternoon period? We succumbed to the tempting offer of kulfi semifreddo and shahi tudka. The shahi tudka looked and was as regal as its name sounds
The crunch of the brioche smothered in a saffron sauce made with heavy cream is balanced by the citrusy grilled pineapple. A very indulgent dessert – I would always pick this one over a cold dessert, probably just how my palate has been trained over the years.
The Kulfi semi Fredo is a nod to the popular Indian falooda, this version is basically a falooda deconstructed. The malai kulfi was fabulous and I could have poured a gallon more of the clove-spiced chocolate sauce on top, given a choice!
We sipped on some lovely herbal infusion teas and then were given a tour of the downstairs area. Prepare to be dazzled by the bright interiors.
Massive floral-shaped light fixtures adorn the walls and Harris tweed-lined upholstery softens the tone.
This spacious downstairs area too is available for private hire, events, gin tastings, cookery demos and more.
An average spend of £60 to £65 per person will include one cocktail, two starters, a main curry dish and one rice or naan and a side and one dessert. Though the menu leans towards the higher price bracket, the food is well worth it.
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*With thanks to my friend Le Binh and Flora Indica for the invite. All opinions expressed and photographs used are, as always, my own. No monetary compensation was provided for a positive review.