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Elegant surroundings and exceptional food at 1947 London.
In London’s constantly evolving restaurant world, new openings can easily go unnoticed. Not so 1947 London, a North Indian restaurant in the heart of Fitzrovia. Although the restaurant has a Charlotte Street address, the entrance is tucked away around the corner opposite the Rathbone Hotel and you could easily miss it. But, the new owners have clearly considered carefully how to make a splash – the entrance entices with stunning lighting and a red carpet. The beautiful recycled paper rose flower wall by paper artist Karen Navalta is already on the list of top Instagram sites in London and there’s a curious spyder motor tricycle parked strategically at the door which had me trying my best (and failing) to get a good shot even in the rain!
Inside 1947 restaurant there are a few beautiful booths covered in jewel-coloured velvet, banquettes with tables for two or four and circular dining tables with comfy chairs. The design, by Tammara Mattingly, creates an opulent and warm atmosphere. The pretty, sparkling lights add to the ambience. At the back is an open kitchen with charcoal robata grill and tandoor oven, which managed to stay remarkably calm throughout a busy service on the night we were there.
There’s an elegant cocktail bar too, on a mezzanine level to one side of the main restaurant. The kind of place you might arrange to meet friends for a quick drink – and then be tempted to stay and move downstairs for a meal.
What of the food though? Chef Krishna Negi has a stellar CV both as chef-patron of Tangawizi in Richmond and as the protégé of Michelin-starred Vineet Bhatia – and the menu is based on recipes that reflect the people and cultures during the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. The menu is relatively short with a selection of small plates or starter, main courses and desserts.
We started the evening at 1947 restaurant with a non-alcoholic version of the mango lassi on the main cocktail list, which was light, fragrant and beautifully presented. And a glass of minerally Domaine Coste Rosé. A bowl of mini poppadums came with two chutneys – a light cooling mint and coriander and sweet mango.
Home-smoked Tandoori salmon with cloves and cardamom with a mustard and honey chutney had a gorgeous char on skin, and the fish was perfectly cooked. The mustard and honey chutney was a great complement to the delicate char of the salmon.
I particularly liked the bite-sized baby squid with fresh garlic, green chillies and spices, deep-fried in a light batter and served with sweet chilli sauce. Freshly fried, the dish was as light as a feather.
Maharaja jumbo prawns arrived as an extra, brought to the table in flaming splendour. Marinated in spices, these are cooked in the clay oven and then flamed. The result, lightly spiced, meaty prawns with more of that wonderful char.
My favourite dish of the evening was the coconut sea bass, a pan-fried fillet served on a bed of lemon rice with a light spicy and creamy coconut-infused sauce. I loved the way the fragrant lemon rice complemented the delicate fish.
Kadai tandoori prawn masala was a substantial dish of tandoori king prawns tossed in a tomato and coriander seed kadai sauce. A kadai is a traditional Indian cooking dish, a bit like a wok with a flat bottom that is used to cook stews. It’s also one of the potential origins of the word ‘curry’ in the UK.
With roti and steamed basmati rice to pick from as side dishes, I was almost but not quite regretting our extra order of Daal Makhani.
Another dish I’d go back for, Daal Makhani is a black lentil concoction, with the pulses soaked overnight, gently cooked and finished with butter and cream. It makes a luscious warming and perfect winter dish and my only concern with 1947 is that it is a main course order rather than a side dish. I just know I’ll always want a bowlful and I prefer to sin in smaller doses!
By this stage, we really didn’t need dessert and ordered the salted caramel kulfi simply to try what is not a traditional kulfi flavour but which just sounded perfect. It was smooth and sweet – and the salted caramel was, indeed, a wonderful flavouring.
1947 London is part of the Chai Thali group and co-founders, Ajay Acharya, Sukhraj Mudhar and Sunil Saggar have a combined 75 years experience in the restaurant business. A brilliantly conceived offering in this vibrant part of London, it was buzzing and lively early on a Monday evening. The food certainly matched my own expectations and I’m looking forward to going back. I’ll struggle to decide between the Maharaja prawns and the deep-fried baby squid to start, and while I know I want the coconut seabass, I’d also need a bowl of that luscious daal…
33 Charlotte St
London W1T 1RR,
Looking for something different? We also love Roka Charlotte Street which is just around the corner!