So, what does one do when a long-loved favourite restaurant closes? Sit in a darkened room in a state of sad dismay? Or, perhaps one visits the newcomer with expectations of disappointment? I did both, but the former, it turns out, was totally over-dramatic and a waste of time, and the latter was unnecessary as the newcomer is Indian Accent!
This restaurant is on the site of the dearly departed Chor Bizarre in Mayfair. Its location is first-class, with prominent jewellers, boutique couture outlets and galleries every few yards. Indian Accent fits right in. Gone are the trappings of Chor with Subcontinental furniture and carvings. Now, we have a totally refurbished, remodelled and reinvented restaurant with clean lines and mirror-hung walls.
Indian Accent will likely alarm those who are expecting the traditional curry or biryani. No, I have not taken against these staples of the Asian food industry, but there must surely be room for innovation and a fresh approach to Indian cuisine. That’s what Chef Manish Mehrotra displays in his menus. It’s not surprising that he offers a winning concept here in London. He has already practised in Delhi and New York, this being the latest delivery of the Indian Accent culinary triplets.
January is a slow month in any London restaurant, but Indian Accent was buzzing from early till late. I have the sense that a younger generation of discerning diners is finding this new restaurant appealing with its small and perfectly formed plates. The dishes are unmistakably Indian but presented in beautiful contemporary fashion.
But then there is the wine experience at Indian Accent. We often enjoy wine pairings with meals, and restaurants usually try to demonstrate the breadth of their cellar as well as the confidence of the Head Sommelier. This restaurant offered some outstanding wines which complemented the food marvellously, but those wines will likely be new to the lucky recipient. Granted, the wine pairing menu isn’t cheap but by the same token any wine lover would consider it value for money.
We started with a flight of puchkas with five waters. This was an amusing take on the traditional Panipuri. Potato sphere chaat with white pea mash was familiar in flavour but refined in its compact presentation. These nibbles were followed by Kashmiri morels with walnut powder, garnished with parmesan papad. This was gently introducing us to another realm of culinary ingenuity. This plate must surely become a signature dish here. It was outstanding in both texture and taste, with an organic architecture that was both refined and natural. OK, so it’s a mushroom, but please allow this writer a little poetic licence – these fungi deserve it.
The rib was the tender star
Next was a fish course of baked cod Amritsari with mint boondi. The white fish was cooked to translucent and moist perfection, the whole preparation being something of a deconstructed battered fish. But the star of the evening, with all its other striking dishes of prawn and chicken, was meetha achaar ribs with sundried mango and onion seeds.
This rib is a dish for which to cross streets. This is a menu item for which to beg. This is a meaty masterpiece over which to spend the previous 24 hours eagerly anticipating, the following 24 hours drooling over memories, and some considerable time regretting that one isn’t renting the flat above Indian Accent. The meat was so tender that it would have fallen off the bone should this diner have even glanced at it sufficiently quickly as to cause a rush of air.
Makhan malai, saffron milk, rose petal jaggery brittle and almonds was our finale. This is an exotic dessert decorated with a glint of gold vark. Truly Indian and truly contemporary with just the right Indian Accent. Fit for a Moghul emperor … or those Mayfair diners.
Dinner: Monday – Saturday; 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Lunch: Monday – Saturday; 12 noon – 2:00 pm
Phone: +44 207-629-9802
16 Albemarle Street
London W1S 4HW
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018