What? Lokhandwala is a large, desirable neighbourhood in Mumbai, home to a number of notable Bollywood stars, TV personalities and film producers. Though a little less residential (we can dream…), Fitzrovia’s Charlotte Street now has its own taste of Lokhandwala, in the form of “inventive, tapas-style Indian fare” in a rustically-glamorous setting.
Where? 93 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 4PY, www.lokhandwala.co.uk
On the Menu: Gone are the days that ‘tapas’ means only giant prawns, tomato-loaded bruschetta and cubes of marinated meat; London now houses tapas of almost every global cuisine. Indian is one of the most recent (and most unconventional) and Lokhandwala is where you will find it. All the punchy flavours of India will satisfy the traditional curry lover, but if it’s a bowl of Balti you’re after then you may want to go elsewhere. Here you’ll find lava-grilled prawns, Masala fish and chips and an unfamiliar take on Yorkshire pudding and lamb.
The Look: Sat at the far end of Charlotte Street, away from the foodie hub you may be thinking of, it wasn’t the inconspicuous sign that told me Lokhandwala was there. Nor was it Google Maps (although that got me most of the way). The atmosphere inside was genuinely so buzzy that although I couldn’t hear upbeat chatter, gossip and catching-up from the street, I could see flickering candles, laughter and a full house. Opening the door not only released the sounds, but also the smells; hunger-inducing aromas of spices and slow-cooked meat. Almost colonial in style, large chandeliers and distressed wallpaper could look try-hard, but the elements come together to create an inviting setting for some colourful and inventive dishes.
What We Ate: Don’t let price fool you, each dish comes in tapas-form so the pricier options aren’t necessarily bigger. Saying that, we started with a contemporary take on poppadums; homemade crisps with an unexpected trio of dips/ relish – guacamole made an appearance – and a reassuring mango chutney which proved very moreish.
Comprising mainly of ‘Indian Tapas’ with a handful of ‘Chef’s Signature Dishes’ on the menu, the dishes were hard to visualise so do as we did and call on your waiter to help out. The jumbo prawns caught our eye, marinated with chilli and cumin and served whole (head-on), they were one of the messier options but perfectly cooked and full of flavour, as anticipated. The Famous Lokhandwala Lamb was really just a lamb curry and though a little oily, the sauce was very well balanced with just enough spice for our taste. We skipped the intriguing-sounding Masala Sea Bass and the more familiar Classic Tikka in favour of Chicken Chettinad; proudly boasting 18 ingredients and served with fluffy rice. A favourite of our trio, chunks of chicken were moist and well cooked, and the sauce was rich and complex – just as you’d hope for one containing so many ingredients.
What We Drank: Though the restaurant is small, walk through to the back and you’ll find its bar, ‘The Hot House’. Cocktails come with their own story and, of course, an Indian twist. Think names like ‘Ancient Amphora’ and ‘Holi’. We opted for a ‘Star of India’ – mango, orange and turmeric marmalade shaken up with gin, cassis and tonic – and a ‘Herbalist’; gin and rose lemonade with vanilla, cucumber and coriander. Their complexity makes them perfect to sip on at the bar, before you move to your table and get stuck into the wine.
Go With: Good for a group, the tapas format means you have an excuse to try a little bit of everything. When we visited there were two large parties enjoying themselves – it’s refreshing to see they don’t shy away from group bookings and perhaps a good one to consider for an alternative work Christmas dinner venue when you just can’t face another turkey-with-all-the-trimmings.
Final Word: If you’ve tried it all then Lokhandwala is one to tick off the list, too. Bravely trying something new, it brings Charlotte Street’s offerings full circle, completing the global culinary adventure. Visit for brunch, try their new Indian afternoon tea, or round up your girls for Ladies’ Night; there’s always a reason to visit.
Lokhandwala: 93 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 4PY