Traditionally Londoners tend to shy away from tourist heavy areas for their dining needs as the food quality isn’t the best and honestly, locals should know better. With this in mind I was slightly wary when I came out of Leicester Square station and only a short walk away I saw spied Lotus. Upon entry I was surprised by the décor with its stark black and silver colour scheme, definitely not the usual Indian restaurant interior.
I dread to think how many courses I got through but the calories have already been digested so I can’t feel too guilty and it was absolutely worth it. It started with a selection of bite-size Rice, Potato, Finger Millet Poppadums and sauces, followed by one of my favourite starters, Potato Chaat With Chickpea, Sev and Yogurt – you can’t go wrong. We were also offered a tomato broth with Indian spices which was like a watery tomato soup but filled with recognisable Indian flavour.
Swiftly on to the mains to one of my favourite dishes and under the kebab section was Paneer Tikka with a chickpea masala and sundried tomatoes, totally delicious and not too heavy. The 23 Karat Gold Lamb Shanks Khorma looks impressive with a smattering of gold leaf which obviously offers nothing to its flavour but it looks nice so it gets brownie points for that. Over to the sides, the Dal Maa Dumpukth, black lentils simmered overnight (12 hours) with garlic, tomato, clarified butter and cream. It was lovely and I am a huge garlic fan but even I found it a tad over-powering after a while.
Bhaskar Banerjee is the talented head chef who is creating these dishes, including the unique Malabar Parotta which smells like pancakes and tastes like a cross between a croissant and normal naan bread – I loved it.
I’m feeling full by this point, with 2 cocktails also having been digested but ever the eating soldier that I am, I continued undeterred by my fullness. I wasn’t overly excited by the Mango Shrikhand (fruit salad, jaggery and coconut cream) but I turned out to be very pleasantly surprised. Bursting with mango flavour and a creamy texture to boot, I would definitely recommend it. It comes with a few tiny bites of fruit and a rather uninspiring coconut cream which doesn’t really add much.
I would highly recommend Lotus for the food alone but the service and location also work in its favour, no offence to more mainstream venues notorious for popping up in heavily tourist areas.