The original Jamavar opened in 2001 at The Leela Palace Bengaluru in India and was named among the World’s Top 10 Power Dining Spots by Forbes USA. Over the next few years it expanded to other internationally acclaimed Leela properties in New Delhi, Chennai, Goa and Mumbai. Jamavar London is the first overseas branch.
The kitchen team is led by Executive Chef Rohit Ghai. He has had a creditable training from hotel companies in India including the Taj Group, which is famed for producing some of the most recognised and successful Indian chefs who now continue their careers all over the world. Rohit has worked in London for a number of years with some of the most celebrated Indian restaurants in the city.
This is one of the most striking dining establishments I have recently visited. Its address in classy Mayfair leads once to expect something exceptional and here it was, in gold and black splendour. The interior is sumptuous with an overall impression of polish with impact. The ceilings are high in this well-proportioned space, giving the air of timeless opulence. There are banquettes, black tables and exotic hand-tooled anaglypta aplenty, but there are also a couple of unique and beautiful Indian themes in the guise of a stunning painting and a mirror depicting the tree of life in gold leaf.
A culinary journey
Jamavar London showcases dishes across India including street food. We are taken on a culinary journey from the north to the south of the Sub-continent. Each dish has been expertly crafted by Chef Ghai who still displays his usual flair for creative yet accessible presentation. It is indeed true that one eats first with one’s eyes.
Start your adventure with a cocktail. They have a selection of potions mixed from premium spirits, Indian spices and a great deal of panache. But then consider a few of the small plates to share. These take their inspiration from foods found in markets in various regions across India. Dal Chawal Aur Achaar are crispy lentil and rice dumplings served with a garnish of green chutney and heritage carrot pickle. Chandni Chowk Ki Aloo Tikki is evidently popular at Jamavar as I noted other tables ordering the same dish. Those diners looked like regulars and that’s quite a statement of approval when one considers that the restaurant has only been open a matter of days! This was a comforting dish of potato tikki, honey yoghurt, white radish and tamarind mint chutney. Kasundi Paneer Tikka with mint and raw papaya chutney was a delightful version of an old favourite.
Lobster Idli Sambhar was outstanding in both visual appeal and flavour. The idlis (steamed rice dumplings) arrived artfully skewered along with black pepper lobster and a pitcher of aubergine sambhar. I was just considering this as the chef’s signature dish when Kid Goat Shami Kebab arrived, to ensure that the lobster had a contender for a place in my gastronomic favourites. This dish is a must-try here. The shami kebab is melting with the texture of a fine paté. It’s elegant and refined and thoroughly addictive.
Our main dish was Old Delhi Butter Chicken made with Suffolk corn-fed char-grilled chicken which was pulled rather than being served in large pieces or dice, which is more common. The tomato-based sauce was rich with well-balanced spice. Simply served with the mixed bread basket, this was sheer comfort on a cold London winter night.
The sweet menu included both traditional and innovative offerings such as Chuski Falooda, which was my choice for dessert. A falooda is a cold dessert popular in India and is sometimes more of a sweet drink with garnishes. It’s usually made from rose syrup, short strands of vermicelli, basil, tapioca pearls and gelatine. The Jamavar version had saffron and rose petal kulfi ice cream for a real taste of the East. Mango Rasmalai with alphonso mango pulp, mixed berry chutney and wheat biscuit base was delicious, according to my guest, who enjoyed both texture and taste. Another beautiful dish.
Jamavar might well be the new kid on the Indian culinary block but it stands to do very well in this corner of affluent Mayfair. It has the potential to become a ‘destination’ restaurant of distinction if it sustains this evident good start. I look forward to watching its progress.
Monday to Saturday
Lunch: 12 noon to 2.30pm
Dinner: 5.30pm to 10.30pm
8 Mount Street
Phone: 020 7499 1800
Visit Jamavar here.
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018